Advice from the Archives: What Is a Satisfying Ending?

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So we’ve shown you how to start and how to tackle writing your first chapter, but here’s the big question that we’re sure is on everyone’s lips: How do you write a powerful ending that stays with your readers for a long time?

Well, never fear, here are our few sneaky tips to achieving those happily-ever-afters to last a lifetime:

Be Creative. We know that it’s hard to avoid happily ever after clichés and there’s certainly nothing wrong with a fairytale wedding or a baby bump but think of what new twist or spin you can put on these tropes. For example maybe your hero and heroine get their happy family by adopting or maybe your heroine is the one who proposes!

Your ending should belong to your characters. Make sure that it grows organically out of who your characters are. As you write, keep asking yourself what the characters want most in the world, why they want it, and what’s stopping them from achieving it. These questions should help with all aspects of the plot and in turn lead you towards the right ending for your story.

No shock twists for the sake of it! When talking about how to end a murder mystery, classic crime author Raymond Chandler said, “The solution, once revealed, must seem to have been inevitable.” The same can be said for romance. Even though you want to surprise your readers, plant the seeds of your ending early, so that when people re-read your fab story they will be able to see that, of course, although fresh and original, this was the ending these characters were always heading towards.

Tie up all loose ends. You should keep track of even the smallest sub-plot aspect, and resolve them. For example, you can’t have a secondary character go for a walk around the ground of your hero’s stately home and never come back!

Resolve the central conflict. Most importantly your hero and heroine must face up to and overcome their internal conflicts by the time you reach the climax of the story. A damaged hero who still hasn’t learned how to let the heroine into his guarded heart by the final page will have readers throwing your book at the wall. Characters need to learn and grow over the course of the story, so only once your hero and heroine have both done this, are you ready to type those immortal words…THE END!

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Comments

  1. Kimber Li

    This is a huge challenge for this genre, in my opinion. (I used to be a book reviewer besides a regular reader.) For me, the satisfaction in reading or writing a story is watching the characters grow as individuals, as well as a couple. In the struggle to start with appealing characters, too often there’s little growing left for them to do. Boring. And then there’s little difference in one set of characters from one novel to another. That’s the biggest challenge to The End that I see. There’s a saying, ‘Start as you mean to go on.’ I see the key to a successful ending is in a very carefully crafted beginning.

  2. Chrissie

    Endings are my favorite things to write, well, after the beginning. Lol. Sometimes the ending will come to me in the middle of the book. It really helps because it gives me a goal to reach and a direction. I sometimes redo the end, depending on how my characters develop, and sometimes I feel the end isn’t quite enough, so I add an epilogue with a HEA into the future.

    Thanks for sharing the notes!