Beginning your novel can be one of the most challenging moments of your life (repeated over again and over again).
Ending your novel however….there is always that gleeful moment when you get to pound out the words THE END. But the ending of your book is more complicated. It will make it or break it. Readers can forgive a slow beginning but a bad ending….
Sometimes there’s no coming back from that.
However, if you do intend to scare readers away from ever touching one of your books again, heed these words.
Introduce an entirely new plot at the end (unless you intend there to be a sequel). For example: the Circle (I am referencing the movie here. I have not yet read the book yet I do intend to soon). At the end, Mae Holland stands up to preach her support and ideas to expand the Circle – then she decides to expose the corruption and hypocrisy of the leaders.
Except, like, that wasn’t ever mentioned except for the last five minutes of the movie. It came out of the blue*
*there was one tiny hint, like how Mae’s friend says they were making her work so much and pull all these all-nighters…but it wasn’t upfront enough that the audience felt like they had been waiting for that moment it was just “what? I didn’t even know we should be thinking or caring about that*
Writer’s tend to make the mistake that a good ending means the best paragraph of purple prose that you’ve ever read in YOUR LIFE. Sweetly sugared with sentimental, philosophical, or whatever statements about the meaning of the story and every gooey emotion rolled into one.
Your reader may fall asleep or worse – just shut the book without even reading the final words.
Suddenly at the end of the book change the tone of the story.
If it was serious, don’t make it funny. If it was funny, don’t make it serious. (I’m looking at you North by Northwest)
For pete’s sake don’t end with an exclamation point.
Make the ending an epilogue and you’ll be sure to fail. An epilogue is not the same thing as an ending. I don’t need to know what happened to the MC and every other character for the rest of their lives. The only story that I need to know the ending of is the story that I was reading.
And last but not least…
Have the character wake up and it was all a dream and your readers will wonder what kind of monster you are.