It’s almost the end of NaNoWriMo, which means you’ll soon be writing the end of your novel. Do you know what’s going to happen yet? Or are you just waiting to see what happens when you start writing? There are many different types of endings you can choose from, so here’s a few ideas to get you thinking.
The happy ending
Most readers love this type of ending, and it ties up a book perfectly. It tends to work best for stand-alone novels, although can sometimes work for individual novels in a series too. In this sort of ending your protagonist wins. They win the battle at the end, they defeat the antagonist, they win the heart of the love interest. Basically, that thing your readers really want to happen has to happen. Everything should be tied up in a happy little bow so your reader walks away with a smile on their face.
The works best for books that are part of a series, as it makes the reader want to read the next part of the story. To write an ending like this, you need to leave your protagonist in some sort of dangerous situation or with some unresolved problem, whether that be that they’re about to go into battle or figuring out they’re pregnant with their ex’s baby. You need to create some sort of problem that doesn’t get solved, a question that doesn’t get answered. Something needs to be left hanging so that the story doesn’t feel finished.
The tear jerker
It’ll kill you to write it, but these endings are sometimes the best types of endings. They really have to pull at your reader’s heartstrings. This usually means killing a well-loved character, or giving the protagonist some really bad news. Whatever it is, it needs to be something big enough to make your reader cry. After a whole novel of making your reader love a character, you’ve got to take something away from them. Thomas Hardy is amazing at writing this sort of ending, so if you’re stuck for ideas check out some of his books.
I am a huge fan of twist endings, and they’re really fun to write too. All the way through the novel your reader thinks something is going to happen, so what you’ve got to do at the end is make the opposite happen. Make them think your protagonist is going to marry Mr Smith, then have her leave him for Miss Jones instead. Do something unexpected, something your readers don’t see coming, and you’ll give them a shock they’re bound to love you for.
These are more commonly found in short stories, but can work just as well for novels too. I’m not saying end your story with ‘and it was all a dream’, if anything I’m saying don’t do that! Just have a sentence that opens up the possibilities for another story without the promise of one. Your novel can still be tied up nicely with this, it’ll just give something for your reader to think about. For example, at the end of a romance about a woman choosing between two men, you could write Helena put her swollen, shaking hand to her belly and smiled, or something like that. It hints that there’s a baby there and makes the reader think about it, but doesn’t necessarily say there’s another story to come. All it does is show the reader that life for your character continues beyond the words you’ve written.
Do you have a favourite type of ending that you just love to read or write? My favourite is in Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. Share yours in the comments section below, but no spoilers!