Telling you about endings is easy. Writing them is easy too. You just put "THE END" and go and lie down in a darkened room to prepare for the party.
Obviously, it's the bit just before you write those magic words, THE END, that's so fraught with worry. There are two reasons for this:
- Readers are most annoying. Some of them want happy endings; others aren't satisfied if there's even one character left alive. Some want everything neatly tied up; others want to wonder. Some like mystery; others wanted it crystal-clear. Some aren't even satisfied with an ending: they want an epilogue too, greedy sods.
- If you've written a good book, your reader is seriously narked that it's finished. Especially if your bloody publisher has gone and filled the last few pages with adverts for other books, some of which may not even be yours, and your reader had thought there was at least another chapter to go. So, your pissed off reader is going to be pissed off whatever ending you do.
Do what feels right for your book - someone's going to hate you, whatever you do, so just do it, shut your eyes and get over it. Stay loyal to your book and, for once, sod the readers. Normally, I say think of your readers first, but in relation to endings there is no point in thinking of them. Every book I've written has had people who loved the book but wished the ending had been different. And others who loved the ending. What you don't usually get is people who hated the book and loved the ending: so, do it for your book, not your readers.However, you wouldn't want me to stop there, so let me offer some specific points to consider. Please file them away in your head and consider them only if you are genuinely having a problem with your ending, and then only obey them in as far as they help your book. Your book is the boss.
Your book deserves a proper ending, even if your readers disagree what that ending is.
That's the end from me. So, to round off, say good-bye and prepare you nicely for THE END:
There are so many vocal and widely-read people who read this blog that I'm sure there will be a plethora of comments and views of "endings I have loved and hated". I think that would be great - it will point you all in the directions of endings to inspire or warn you. But remember: it's your book and really only you should decide the best ending for it. It's your privilege and your power. Use it wisely!