Is it Really a Happy Ending?

So, I am still working on keeping a consistent schedule when it comes to blogging. Which, in my personal opinion, is difficult to say the least. This weekend, I have written approximately 4,000 words for my upcoming book, A Moment for Eternity. I have reached the climax of the story, and am taking my time with the ending. My first book (title shall remain confidential due to the embarrassment of the book) was over 350 pages long and out of those 350 pages, 20 of them consisted of the climax, consequences, and resolution.

So…yeah. I’d like to avoid that again.

I’m not saying the quantity of the ending matters that much, but I’m using that as an example of a horribly rushed ending that was better off scrapped completely. It’s not the quantity of the ending, but rather the quality.

The home stretch of finishing a book is always the hardest, longest, and most valuable part of the book. It’s what the readers take away from it. It defines your characters. And, the quality of the ending is a testament to the quality of the story. This is something I’m slowly learning.

So, some words of advice to those of you trying to end a story:

  1. Never rush it. We always get excited when we reach the ending. “Yay! I’m so close to being done!” But, we forget that the ending is just as important – if not more so – than the rest of the book. This said, take your time. Don’t worry about deadlines or rush yourself into finishing the book just so you can say you’re done. Do a good job and take your time.
  2. Stay consistent. So many times, I find young readers who want to make their story dramatic, so they haphazardly toss in a tragic conflict in order to up the drama. DO NOT DO THAT. Stay consistent to the rest of your story. Don’t make your characters react in an uncharacteristic way just to up the anti. All that does is makes your characters appear confusing, flaky, and unrelateable. If you want them to take negative action, consider how they would react in certain situations based on their past behavior throughout the book. For example, Tom is a very disorganized person who loves taking giant leaps of faith. Emily, on the other hand, wants her life planned out because it makes her feel safer. Don’t suddenly make Tom hesitant to do something that he would normally jump at the chance to do, just for dramatic effect. News flash: everyone knows what you’re trying to do and they hate you for it. Inconsistent and unrelated drama disrupt the flow of the story.
  3. Have a reason for your conflict. This is a big one. Do not just create a conflict because you feel the story needs more drama. Even if your character’s are remaining in character. All this does, is confuses and annoys the reader. They’re left wondering, “Where the hell did that come from?” Also, consider if your conflict enhances the story. If it is the result of a domino affect, or the beginning of one. Does the conflict further the plot, or could you tell the same story without it? How does the conflict change the characters? How does it encourage them to grow? Does it make sense? Do the events prior to the conflict lead up to the climax? Or is it out of the blue? These are important questions you have to ask yourself. If you can’t answer them, then change the conflict, or your story. It has to flow. For example, my friend Konnie wrote a story that seemed to be coming along nicely. Then, out of the blue, one of the main characters die. No warning. No foreboding – even the most subtle. The death, while unexpected, made no sense and did nothing to the story. The death was a standalone. Therefore, there was no drama with the death (well, the writer tried to put drama in the death, but…you know what I mean), no conscious forethought, other than, “Oh, this needs more drama. I’m going to make this character die.” The death of this character served no other purpose other than stirring up drama. The death wasn’t a sacrifice. It wasn’t a trial that was to be overcome. Not one character was enhanced by this death. It was an arbitrary death that left you thinking, “Why?”

So, those are three very important tips to keep in mind while writing your ending. Not only will it make your ending better, but ultimately, it will enhance your story and give meaning (hopefully) and character building.

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