Four elements in your ending to leave readers satisfied.
It Needs to Make Sense.
The key to a great ending is to build up to it. Don’t introduce anything completely new in the resolution. Everything should have already been hinted at, alluded to, or in the works. If you spring something out of the blue on your reader, it won’t be taken as exciting. It’ll be annoying. You can have a twist or end in an unexpected way, of course, but you can’t go off the rails. For instance, a contemporary romance probably shouldn’t end with an alien invasion.
The power of a great ending can cause word of mouth excitement and turn a cool story into a best seller. A great hook, in the beginning, can’t do that. The promise has to pay off.
Start at the Beginning.
To end a novel in a way that makes sense and is satisfying, you need to plan ahead. As I said earlier, all threads should have been pulled along the way. The easiest way to make that happen is to outline or create a blueprint of the story, but if you don’t work that way, then make sure to go back and retroactively build up to an intriguing climax.
You need to foreshadow your endings climax as early as possible.
Whatever ending you choose must be earned. It has to build up throughout the novel and your characters should have an increasingly hard time reaching their goals as the novel progresses. It also makes sense to save the largest confrontations for the final chapters. The only way for this to happen is to lay the foundation for it in the beginning and middle of the story.
Don’t Forget Character Arc.
This seems obvious but I have read books that can fail to do this.
The loose ends of a plot have to be tied up by the end of a book but don’t forget about your characters.
Characters usually grow or change over the course of a story, and if they don’t, that’s a unique trait. Often the hero emerges as a new and better, or at least different, version of himself by the time all is said and done. If you reach the end of your story and there hasn’t been a fundamental shift in who your protagonist is, reflect on that. If not, why not? Could your story be stronger if the shift was clearer?
Satisfy Your Readers.
If you satisfy your reader, he or she will crave your next book. For some stories or genres, that means giving your characters a happily ever after. For others, the novel might end on a sad but optimistic note. Some conclusions could be tragic. No matter how your book ends, it should feel like your characters were put through the wringer and that they came out on the other side. The ending should feel “right” and earn.
Much like savoring the last bite of a delicious dinner or regretting coming to the final spoonful of ice cream, you want your readers to have enjoyed the experience and look forward to more.
Is there another element that should be in the end of a novel?
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