Endings my darlings, are for me the hardest part of writing. Doors of my special settings closed forever and sudden goodbyes to characters that have lived out their lives in my imagination and on paper. It is difficult my dears to say goodbye to those friends and when a good writer has done her job, the readers feel the same. Have you ever finished a great book with fabulous lively characters and felt a sense of loss? A really good book my darlings, even one with a happy ending, can leave the reader in a state of mourning over the characters who have finished their purpose and their author has moved on.
I know my darlings, you will find it hard to believe but once, upon reading to the end of a beautifully romantic novel, I, Celeste actually wore a bathrobe for an entire day. Of course my dears, the novel was written by Celeste, and the ending was fabulous. Sometimes, when a writer just can’t bear to move forward from those characters, he will write a sequel to the joy of his faithful readers. The trick as a writer is to know when enough is enough and when a true ending with a total severing of ties is better than a watered down trilogy or a laboring 5 part series. Of course, I am not referring to my good friends who have written tremendous trilogies and fluid 5 part series. Darlings, you know who you are.
While every little thing does not have to be wrapped up with a remarkable shiny bow, the large meaty issues should be addressed. Have your dear characters done what they need to do before ceasing to exist? Have you answered the most important questions raised by your piece? Considered how you want your beloved audience to feel when the last line is read. Should they feel dismal and depressed, auspicious, placated or inspired? Darlings, it is important you leave them feeling something more than bewildered and unfulfilled.
Remember that when you are writing your draft, it is wonderful to just get the framework of the ending down on paper. If you have figured out the where and when for the end to come, my dears, you are half-way there. Return to your work later to make positive your ending is an illustration and not a diagram. During revisions, you may focus on creating an ending to leave with your readers, keeping in mind the best endings provide images that linger. After the back cover has been gently closed and the book placed back on the shelf, a satisfying ending will walk away with the reader and stay awhile. Readers who are now invested in your characters want them to be affected by your resolution, but don’t feel the need to spell out a moral or lesson at the end. Trust your readers to be at least as smart as you are. If you, my darling, have done your job, the reader will understand.
For now my dear readers I must say goodbye. It is time to dress for my meeting with our editor, in of all places, the Dungeon Master’s chamber. My new red velvet gown will look fabulous with my black rhinestone heels. I do hope he has something naughty in mind. Adieu my darlings, farewell.
“It ends this way, he thought. Again and again it ends this way. There are quests and roads that lead ever onward, and all of them end in the same place – upon the killing ground.” ~ From Stephen King’s The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower, Book 1) published by Plume 1982.