September 17, 2010

When you get to the end

I'm 40 pages from having my novel beta-ready, and I'm struggling.

I'm not happy with the ending I have now, and I'm banging my head against the wall trying to figure it out.

Yup, I kinda feel like this.
So I'm asking you, my bloggy friends - what makes the end of a book good? (Obviously the final showdown between the good guys and the bad guys, but beyond that?)

Any advice for actually finishing the end of a novel? How to wrap up all the loose ends? How to leave enough of an open ending that you retain the possibility of a sequel without leaving so much unanswered that it cannot stand alone?

How? How? How?


Rachel Bateman said...

What I have found is to just write it the best you can - sure, it will not feel RIGHT, but sometimes we can't see for ourselves what is making it WRONG. So what I would do is polish it up as best you can and then send it to readers. Different eyes will likely be able to point out what is going wrong and help you brainstorm the best way to tie up the end of your novel.

Don't bang your head against that wall for too long - it is bound to become misshapen if you do. :)

Erinn said...

Just write it. That's my advice. Even if it's the best ending, that's fine. That's what beta's are for, to help you be a better writer.

The best endings make you want to pump your fist in the air. It gives you that Hell YEAH feeling.

But sometimes it takes drafts to get to that.

Sometimes I let Future Erinn figure out the problems Current Erinn has.

BTW Future Erinn thinks Current Erinn is an idiot. :-)

Phoebe said...

Ooh, I love endings. But I don't know if my advice is going to be any good, because I've never finished a book if I didn't know how it was going to end. Sometimes, right down to the last word. That way, the whole book is a game, in a way, to shift the pieces into place.

I say, go for what's emotionally satisfying. You'll know it when you write it. Don't worry about sequel potential, etc.--write the best fitting ending for this book for your characters. You can always tweak it later if need be.

Molly said...

You add kissing, and what is natural for your characters. Oh, and more kissing. Maybe you shouldn't wrap up ALL of the loose ends. Some of them, of course- the major ones. But every question doesn't have to have an answer, you know. Sometimes we just need the knowledge that there IS an answer, or peace with the fact that an answer isn't there. I love ending where the characters find themselves close to where they started, but better off. What started that needs to be finished? What characters need to finish their plot? WHY did certain things happen in the beginning? Show the reason in the end. Also, don't stress about it. Enjoy watching that finish line get closer and closer. Your beta readers will make sure that it works.

The Blue Lipstick Samurai said...

-dance- Only forty pages?! Ooooooooohmigosh.

When in doubt, write too much. Write past what feels like the natural ending. Then your eager betas can tell you what feels like the right ending to them. I think the trick is to NOT tie up everything. Leaving huge questions is a no-no, but if you don't just END your story, it will taper and fray and finish weakly.

Though I'm sure it won't. ;)

Erik said...

I'll second what Molly said -- you don't have to tie up all the loose ends. I don't even think it's preferable.

Angela said...

I think most endings need to reworking. It's normal. If it's a cliff hanger, I generally like the ones that tie off all the loose ends except one. If you leave too many hanging, readers get mad. Or, to be more specific, I get mad and end up throwing books across the room. Not a good thing for the wear and tear of the books on my shelves. Just, try not to make the ending to vague.

Claire Dawn said...

I think a book's ending works when I want to stay in the book. Instead of feeling like Finally it's over or Really? Is that how it ended?

You can tie up all the loose ends and there still be a sequel. I mean look at Harry Potter book1. Voldemort's gone. Still there are 6 more books.

Abby Stevens said...

Rachel - Thank you. I think this is great advice. I get so worried about sending an 'incomplete' MS out to betas, but I think I just have to realize that that is a beta's job.

Erinn - Yes! Those are my favorite type of endings, too. And I think Future Abby thinks Current Abby is an idiot, too. :P

Phoebe - It sounds like you have a very strategic mind, which I think it what makes endings hard for me - I don't have a strategic mind at all. Emotionally satisfying is a good criteria, thank you. :)

Molly - Ha ha, you sound like Steph Perkins! I agree, maybe all the loose ends don't need tying up. And don't stress? VERY good advice, VERY hard to follow. :D

Glenna - Yep, 40 pages. Ay yi yi, I'm getting nervous about being done, lol.

Erik - Thanks. :) It's just figuring out which little loose ends to let go and which to tie off.

Angela - Ha ha, I've thrown books across the room once or twice myself. I don't like being left with too many questions, either. It's such a difficult balancing act, isn't it? But I suppose that's what betas are for...

Claire Dawn - Ah, yes... like with HP, I never want the book to end.

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