Five Tips To Help You Effectively End Your Book

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The first chapter sells the book; the last chapter sells the next book.
— Mickey Spillane

I thought about the quote above as I was doing research for this blog post. It's so true. When readers finish your book, you want them to be blown away and scrambling to find your author or social media pages so they can read your other books and/or see what you're working on next. Therefore, how can we, as authors, write effective endings for our books, and what are some common book endings we can pull from?

Five Common Book Endings:

-Explicit: With explicit book endings, everything in your novel wraps up nicely. All questions are answered, all loose ends are tied up, and the conflict is resolved. 

-Twist: With twist book endings, nothing is as it seems. The ending is unexpected. Everything your reader believed is thrown out the window and a new ending is revealed. 

-Circular: With circular endings, the author usually ties the ending back to the beginning using images or lines from the beginning of the book. Thus the ending resonates with the reader, provides closure, and leaves the reader with a certain tone. 

-Cliffhanger: With a cliffhanger ending, the protagonist is left in a precarious situation and the reader is left wanting to read the next book to see how the story unfolds. 

-Long-View: With a long-view ending, the author reveals what happens to the characters in the future. 

Five Tips to Write Effectively End Your Book:

-Think Before You Write: What emotion do you want to leave your readers with? Does the ending realistically fit the story? Did the protagonist confront the antagonist? Is the conflict resolved? How did the protagonist grow? Was a lesson learned? Answering these questions before you work on your ending will make it easier for you to blow your readers away with a satisfying ending.

-Wrap Up Character Arcs: Your protagonist will likely be changed by whatever they experience throughout the course of your book, and your ending should reflect that change. When writing your ending, show how your characters have changed. Have they matured? Do they have a new worldview? What have they learned? How have they grown? 

-Address the Problem: Your protagonist doesn’t necessarily need to win every time, but the main problem should be addressed in some way. This could either mean a big victory or a major loss. The point is, whether your protagonist wins or loses, they should have tried their hardest to resolve the main issue or reach their goal.

-Be Realistic: Not all endings are rainbows and flowers. Whether your ending is simple or unexpected, you must lay the groundwork for your ending and build anticipation of a specific outcome. (Yes, this is true even if you plan to throw a plot-twist in there and shock your readers.) This will result in your ending being satisfying and realistic. 

-Provide Closure: Even if you’re writing the first book of a series, you must tie up loose ends. The main problem or issue must be addressed and your readers should not be left wondering about subplots or feeling frustrated. This is especially true for standalone books. You must tie up all loose ends! However, with series, you want to be balanced. Leave enough questions to motivate the reader to read the next book, but also make sure that book can stand by itself and the reader is satisfied. 

Additional Tips to Remember: 

-Avoid cliché endings or a total lack of resolution. This will only frustrate your reader. 

-Take your time. If you’re not sure what type of ending to use, write multiple endings and discuss the issue with beta readers or critique partners. Another good tip is to read through your entire manuscript and listen to your characters. They'll help you realize which ending fits best. 

I want to hear from you! Was this blog post helpful? Do you have additional tips you would like to share? In your opinion, which book, or book series, has the best ending?

Happy Writing!