Ending a book can sometimes be challenging, maybe especially for fiction. If you’re having a problem with your book ending, you might find the following information to be useful.
If you don’t have an idea of where you’re headed, almost any road will take you there. So, when you’re writing, you really need to have an idea of how your book will end. By spending some time at the start of your project thinking about the ending, your writing will be more directed and focused. Here are three ideas that you might find useful.
When to write the ending
- Write the ending first. By writing the ending first, you’ll have a good idea of how to write the opening and middle of your book, in order to make your ending work. Please note that you don’t have to actually write the ending in full. For example, you can just create a detailed outline of your ideas, and then work out how to get to the ending from the beginning. For fiction, this might be the resolution of the plot. For non-fiction, this might be a summary of a point you were trying to make; this can even be done for each chapter.
- Write the ending second. For fiction or non-fiction, start writing the first chapter or a couple of chapters, maybe up to three. For non-fiction, this might be writing the first few sections of a chapter. Then, put that work aside so you can work on the ending. This allows you to write an ending that matches the style of your opening writing and, for fiction, suits the characters you’ve established. Again, no need to write a detailed ending. You can simply create a rough outline.
- Don’t write an ending. This idea probably works best for fiction books. While the text actually ends, the dialog or narrative may suggest that the story isn’t over. This may be a clue that there’s a follow-on book or, in fact, the story may have reached a point where the main issues have been resolved and you choose to simply let the ending be like the cowboy riding into the sunset or a song ending by just repeating the last few lines of the lyric.
Types of endings
- Closed ending. In this technique, all issues have been resolved, and everything is tied up nice and near. This is the “They lived happily ever after” type of ending.
- Open Ending. In this case, most issues have been resolved. However, unlike the closed ending, there are still some unanswered questions or doubt as to what will happen next.
- Bridge ending. This method is used, intentionally, when you’re pretty sure that this book will have one or more sequels. You might use a closed ending, but give it a twist, or you might resolve the conflict, but drop a hint about what’s to come. This can also work for non-fiction, as you work from one chapter to the next.
Don’t let your book end with writer’s fatigue. Plan your ending just as you’ve planned the rest of your work. There’s a proverb that says “A good beginning makes a good ending.” However, when it comes to writing, it’s often true that “A good ending makes a good beginning and middle.”
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