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Going Out with a Bang

September 22, 2009

On Friday night we rented movies and did our usual double feature. JD and I watched Duplicity and State of Play. Both were great. They had us guessing the whole way through. Duplicity ended great, the other well, not so much. See I like endings I didn’t see coming and the first had that. The other kept us on our toes with lots of action, interesting back story, and a great cast of characters. However at the end, in my opinion, fell short with a very anticlimactic ending.

This got me thinking about endings and how important they are to a story. We hear all the time about needing goals, motivation, and conflict for our well developed characters. Watching out for the sagging middle. Staying away from info dumps. Absolutely no head hopping. And these are all extremely important to a great story, but I think the ending is where you can lose your reader too. If you don’t end on a high note, tie up all your loose ends, and give your reader a satisfying conclusion they won’t be back for any subsequent books.

Think of a story with a poor ending like reaching the end of a rainbow only to find there really was no pot of gold after all. You spent all that time and energy but get nothing in return. So, how does one end well? That is the million dollar question, of course. I have a few suggestions. Certainly don’t leave the hero and heroine hanging. They don’t always need to have a happily ever after but the reader needs to at least know they are happy for now. Don’t give the villain poor motivation, please. He wasn’t the big, bad evil simply because another character told him to be. Also don’t forget to tie up all loose ends. If there was a big, life changing event about to happen at some point in the story, make sure it happens and is resolved.

Hodarn the endw about you? Are there endings that turn you away? Endings that leave you less than satisfied? What do you like to see most in your ending?


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