The End Is Nigh…

Ben_Kinsley_The_End_is_NighI’ve finished the third draft of Plaster Scene, my new novel, and sent it off to the proofreader for polishing. It’s very close now. I’m still waiting to finalise the cover but I’m sure it’ll be ready when it needs to be.

The one problem I have is how to end the bloody thing. There are so  many ways to end a story, below are just a few:

  1. On a cliffhanger (a la The Italian Job)
  2. Do it to death – Just drag it out for chapter after chapter wrapping up every single storyline, and some.
  3. Right at the end of the action – It just wraps up and then you leave it, but does this leave the reader slightly unfulfilled?
  4. A final chapter focussing on one of the characters – Concentrate on one storyline and take it just a bit further.
  5. A lead on scene – set yourself up for a possible second in the series by ending at a possible beginning of another story. (The franchise model)
  6. An Epilogue – What the characters are up to at some time in the future
  7. The bullet point round-up – Discuss each character in turn and show what happens to them

At the moment I’m stumped. No story naturally ends. The story ends when the story ends but the book doesn’t end there. Your characters become real people so ultimately their lives go on and on, how much do you show a reader?

I like all of the above approaches for different reasons but some feel a little bit like a cop out and some are clearly self-indulgent. It probably depends on genre etc, and that’s the way I’ll probably go but I’m curious as to how you other beautiful writers go about deciding how to finally put your pen down.

Let me know because it may well help others too… thank you.


6 responses to “The End Is Nigh…

  1. No idea but don’t just let it fizzle out!!!! I’ve just finished a book that fizzled and I felt like throwing it out of the window….which would have been a very sad thing as that action would have broken my Kindle Fire! No pressure but you’ve got until 25th July to get it out and ready for my hols! Can’t wait 9for the hols OR the book!)

  2. I always want some fulfilment. Doesn’t have to answer every question/thread you’ve posed throughout the book, but it should provide some form of resolution, especially with regard to the overall theme of the story. So if its a character piece, then an epilogue would be the way I’d go. Cliffhangers only work for me on two counts – 1) I know it will be resolved in some future book and 2) I still have a sense of fulfilment from the story I’ve just read as above.
    But agree wholeheartedly with JERC – whatever you do, do not let if fade quietly into the night.

  3. It depends. Do you have plans on writing a sequel, now or in the future? Do you think it has to have a happily ever after or can it be a happy for now? As for cliffhangers I hate them. It’s like having your favorite TV show getting cancelled in the middle of a juicy storyline. Bottom line; how do you want it to end? I write the endings before I’m halfway done with my books, It’s easier for me to know where it’s going, if I know how it ends ahead of time.

  4. Definitely an epilogue. Let us know what the characters are up to and at the same time this leaves room for a sequel.

  5. A sense of closure is always good, I think, notwithstanding Calvino and some other post-modernists. I don’t think that readers need the completeness of epilogs, or the wrap-up favored by Victorian novelists, but they need the sense of closure. As you mentioned, genre often dictates how to end fiction, but however it is accomplished, let’s convince the reader that the work is properly over. Not just over, but properly over, from the reader’s perspective. The absolute minimum requirement, I think, is not allowing any reader to think that the writer did not know how to end the story — the reader should be 100% focused on the story, not the person behind the curtain.

  6. Thank you for all of these comments. As expected, a division of opinion is the conclusion. All of these methods are right at different times, but I like Stephen’s summation at the end, ‘don’t let the reader think that the writer didn’t know how to end the story.’ I’ll take that.

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