It’s that time of year when networks wrap up shows’ seasons and sometimes series altogether. We, viewers, are riveted to see how the plots unfold after months—or years—of watching the characters struggle through obstacles and surprising twists. After the finale’s over, some may be pleased with how things shake out while others wish they could get back the hours they spent tuning into the show.
Though writers like to create a shock factor, the majority don’t intend to disappoint fans. Sure, we enjoy the whole process, but in truth, everything’s leading to that final scene. If you don’t execute it properly, it can ruin the entire work.
Hence, writers of every kind feel the pressure of sculpting that perfect ending. Perfect doesn’t always mean happy; it’s simply the best way you want your story to be represented. After all, the closing words will be the ones most remembered and can define how one views the rest of it.
Early in my writing, I had the hardest time knowing how to end a tale. Even in preschool, I was required to keep a journal and every day failed to come up with a final sentence that wasn’t awkward, like, “That’s all,” or the classic, “The End.” My skills improved over time, but that was mostly because I thought of more awkward endings to use. When I faced having to conclude a novel, then, I trembled in inadequacy.
I, for one, usually have a general idea of a story’s climax long before I make it there, but I never plan out the details. In my opinion, you can’t decide the exact impact all the plot twists will have on the characters chapters in advance. As everything winds down—or up, in many cases—, one has to start deciding where the characters are at and where they will go. You’ve used countless words to foster a bond between readers and characters, so readers will pick up on actions that are contrary to their nature.
Of course, only authors can see what characters and the audience can’t. As mentioned earlier, happily-ever-after’s aren’t always the best or most plausible conclusions, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful and satisfying. Honestly, some of my favorite books don’t end with a HEA. If you choose to take that route, make it meaningful, not irrational. That way, your reader will think over the body of work and, even if they don’t like it, say, “That makes sense,” rather than, “What in the world?!”
At the risk of sounding cliché, a story’s ending is the bow on top of the gift, the gift you give to readers. Whichever kind you choose, tie it with precision and make sure it suits the overall package well. Then, they’ll look forward to the next.
Here’s an alternate ending to my first novel, Husband in Hiding. I was happy with it, but it left little room for a sequel I later decided to write.
Husband in Hiding 1st epilogue
Want to see the ending that made the cut? Order it on KarinaBartow.com or read it on Kindle.
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