Last week, I talked about book openings in one of my posts. This post talks about the other end of your book, the ending. It will briefly discuss the types of endings and the importance of choosing the right one for your book.
Leaving the reader hanging – is it a good idea?
Many sources will tell you not to end your book with a cliffhanger. The reader needs some satisfaction or a happy ending to complete their reading experience. In my opinion, the answer to this is not quite that simple.
As someone who has written a series, I strive to make each book capable of being read as a standalone story. There is, however, a backstory arc for my main character that continues from book to book. What I like to do is resolve the current story within the book but provide a lead in to the next book.
There are some renowned novelists that are famous for vague endings in their novels. One that I’m familiar with is Elmore Leonard who is known for abruptly ending his novels and leaving the reader to contemplate where the characters ended up or how things turned out for them.
Over-telling the ending
Did you ever read a story where the author finishes the book with a lengthy epilogue explaining in great detail what happens to each character? Did you ever read a book up to the high intensity climax and the author just abruptly ends the story without giving any hint to what happens to the characters?
Both of these reading experiences can be frustrating for different reasons. The frustration caused by the abrupt ending is self-explanatory. Over-telling, however, can be just as annoying. Very often, the author disappoints the reader by giving a resolution or future outcomes for their characters that is less than satisfying to the reader.
We’ve discussed the opening and the ending. The next logical step is to discuss the middle of your book, arguably the most troublesome part of finishing a book
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.