Last week, I talked about things to include in the opening chapter of your manuscript, so this week, I’m focusing on the ending. Whether it’s a happy-ever-after, a surprise twist, or even a cliff-hanger, here are 7 tips to help you write a powerful ending.
Tip 1: Tie up loose ends and resolve conflicts
The last thing you want for your book is a reader wondering what happened to a particular character or plot. This is most definitely the time to reveal who the father is! Look back on all your plots, subplots, and conflicts and make sure you’ve resolved them so the reader isn’t left frustrated.
Tip 2: Don’t rush your ending
This is a mistake that many writers make, but most readers will expect some kind of feeling of relief and if it’s too hurried, abrupt or incomplete, the reader will be left feeling unsatisfied.
Tip 3: Use the element of surprise
An ending that blindsides a reader can either work really well or leave them confused. But surprise climaxes are often used in certain genres such as thrillers - in fact readers expect them. The trick is to make sure you build up the suspense, so there are clues along the way.
Tip 4: Include the values of the story
Typical values include life versus death, love versus hate, or accomplishment versus failure so when writing your ending, focus on intensifying how these values are in conflict with each other. It’s tempting to focus on just the action but ask yourself how the conflict in those values delivers the greatest change in your characters’ fortunes to really make that ending stand out.
Tip 5: Validate actions
Make sure you validate the characters actions and choices as well as showing how they have changed for the better or the worse. How has the story impacted the characters’ lives? It’s also important to show the character’s inner journey as it’s their internal conflict driving their actions.
Tip 6: Make the outcome matter to your character
Your ending will be more impactful if you have a character your reader cared about from the beginning and you've established what's at stake. The ending is where the reader sees the results of the characters’ actions so the reader must believe the outcome is important to them.
Tip 7: Avoid clichés
We all recognise when we see them but avoid the cliché ending. This can sometimes happen when you bail your plot or character out - if the ending feels contrived, unbelievable, and not in tune with the rest of the story, the hard truth is, it probably is. Use your ending to fulfill your promises to your readers but to also leave a small kernel of wondering: what could happen next?
Related posts: My Top 5 Book Writing Mistakes (& How To Avoid Them)
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