1. louis1
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    louis1 Contributing Member

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    What makes a good ending?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by louis1, Mar 31, 2012.

    I mean a really good ending. an ending that makes you cry or smile or question your self? what makes good endings so rewarding ?
    DO you guys have any tips on how to write a crazy good ending?
     
  2. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    I like endings which take me back to the beginning (a full circle of some sort). This is usually achieved with similarities in the choice of words or other similarities in the beginning and ending scenes. I like sad endings too, the ones that makes me cry, but on one condition-- the character themselves shouldn't cry too much. Avoid too much drama in the end.

    First impression is the last impression, may be, but sometimes the last impression is the only thing that lingers in your mind. Good ending is as important and as rewarding as other parts of a story.

    Lastly, a good ending depends on the story itself so much that it is impossible to give exact mantra for 'that good ending'. No magic formula.
     
  3. Rafiki
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    Rafiki Active Member

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    To me a good ending leaves me with the feeling that you get when you remove something that has been paining you for so long that you have completely forgotten that it exists; but the pain is still there, prickling at the back of your mind. It worms its way deeper and deeper into your subconscious, finally the tweezers come and they pain is removed. The relief you feel is the most extraordinary thing in the world, as if you had lived your whole life in misery and now, for the first time, you are in bliss. But it isn't like that, except that it is, except that it isn't; because the relief you feel is heightened, the bliss is tantalizing because you have become personally attached to that splinter. That splinter is you, body and soul, and the pain that you felt was the pain transferred by something that you care about, something that means something to you.

    Rather than asking how you write a good ending the question you should be writing is "how do you write a good story?" The trick in writing is sticking the splinter in, the ending is simply removing it.
     
  4. lycanman
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    lycanman New Member

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    The fact that it is not a bad ending, by which I mean that you don't leave the reader expecting more or wondering how they got to the final point from your story. What is rewarding about a really good ending is seeing how far the characters, or the situation has come and convincing the reader that there is far enough.
     
  5. marcuslam
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    marcuslam Senior Member

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    Indeed, an ending should resolve all the issues raised in the book. At the same time, I love endings with points that warrant discussion with fellow readers.

    I can appreciate unhappy endings. That is, as long as it's not sad for the sake of being sad. When an ending contains both ups and downs, that's an honest representation of real life. I'm really into that.
     
  6. marcuslam
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    marcuslam Senior Member

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    Indeed, an ending should resolve all the issues raised in the book. At the same time, I love endings with points that warrant discussion with fellow readers.

    I can appreciate unhappy endings. That is, as long as it's not sad for the sake of being sad. When an ending contains both ups and downs, that's an honest representation of real life. I'm really into that.
     
  7. Erato
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    Erato Contributing Member

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    Yes. If a book does not end with the main issues resolved, if not every issue resolved, it is unsatisfying. It should end with the resolution of the main issue, or directly after that, because the main issue will be resolved in the book's climax or in its aftermath. Happy or sad doesn't come into it.
     
  8. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    I'm grappling with this idea, myself. The lead has to make an exit. His personal involvement is at its end in the corridor of time in which he plays a part. In a strange twist, if he remained, he would become a supporting character.

    So I am faced with the idea of just where does the story end? Does it end after the lead has met his goal? Or does the story end with the entire plot idea achieved?

    (Of course, there's the opening for a sequel. But in an odd way, the readers already know that ending.)
     
  9. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    You could easily make a sequel in which the main character of the first book was a supporting character or didn't feature. What I'd be more concerned about is the ending of that sequel being already known to the reader. Because if any type of ending is unsatisfying it's a predictable one. Why not shake things up a bit, and take the story in a direction that makes sense but would be hard to predict?
     
  10. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Let me add that it is impossible to change the ultimate ending--nor would I choose it.

    In fact, having the lead bow out early is a noble, yet sad ending that I hope will satisfy the reader. Imagine an ugly little high school loner with a strong heart, thinking beyond himself, and running back an interception 99 yards before he's tackled. The good looking blonde chick-magnet trots the ball in for the score untouched and then is carried off the field a hero.

    It happens. But do unsatisfying ends have a place in our stories?
     
  11. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    It depends what you mean by unsatisfying. Downer endings, were things are left unresolved have been known to work but purely bad writing or cheap plot twists are another thing entirely.

    Also I'd be interested to know why it's impossible for you to change the ultimate ending of the story. It's your choice after all. You'd want something that fits with the overall tone of the book I expect, but every story would have several such possible endings. Not saying you should change it if you don't want to, but if it were me and the ending was incredibly predictable I'd throw my audience a curve ball. At the very least I'd have the story go down a path were, for a while at least, the obvious ending doesn't look possible.
     
  12. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Many years ago a book was written, which in many places holds the record for the most sales and production, most people know parts of it, and the ending is clear.

    It would be like writing historical fiction where you take great pains to make the events accurate, and then slip in JFK getting only a flesh wound because "it's your story."

    Besides, I like redemption stories, and most of them end in tragic but noble deaths. I just hope lots of people feel the same way.
     
  13. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    Would that book be Lotr?

    In any case historical fiction is not quite the same as most fiction, because it's based on real life. You can't take major liberties without it become AU fiction.

    But it's your story so your choice, I was just wondering why you thought there was no possibility of changing the ending if you had wanted to. But yeah I love a good redemption arc. :)
     
  14. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with Killbill, I like the endings that returns to something from the beginning, either something a character said or asked or something plotwise, that answers the story question in the beginning. I like to answer the story queston in the end, but then I add a twist, an additional detail that was never a stated goal in the beginning but that gives the ending some extra flavour. Like, in the chick lit novel I'm editing the story is not about love per se, it's about a totally different dilemma, but in the end there is the bonus of the mc having found someone she really cares about too, besides from the story goal having been achieved. Or it could be that the mc doesn't reach his goal but still gain something valuable. it could be anything, it doesn't have to be love, although I find it's a pleasant bonus in a story that is not a love story originally. But then, I'm all for happy endings, happy without being too sugary or obvious.
     
  15. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It should be something that is perfect for the novel. And this perfection very much depends on your story and how it all built up.

    For example, the books Perfume and I Am Legend both have what I consider a "perfect" ending - the ending was simply so fitting with everything that the book was, the way it developed, what it was about, and at the same time unexpected, and yet they were the ONLY possible solutions to the novel.

    I think the ending should reinforce something that you have made the reader believe, and if they behave in the way the characters should. For example, in the US drama Justified, season 1, every character acted in a way that was completely coherent with the various backstories that had been established, using relationships that had been established, and because every aspect was well-developed before, you couldn't predict what each character would do, all the while believing it, because every character was acting in exactly the way you know this character should. Or the ending to The Dark Knight - the ending conveyed what the film's been trying to get across.

    The ending shouldn't be something new to the reader - it should somehow reinforce a message, or reveal a hidden message that you've been building up towards throughout the novel. And it should happen in such a way that uses everything you've established beforehand about the characters, their relationships, and the situations.
     
  16. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    A tragic ending is different to an unsatisfying ending. Take the film Shutter Island - did I like the ending? No. But was it fitting for the story? Yes, I can totally understand why the director played it the way he did.

    However, the film Cold Mountain had an unsatisfying ending for me, because of the way the film built up, I took it for a war romance and the ending made the entire story utterly pointless for me. That was unsatisfying and though I enjoyed the film throughout, I'd never watch it again because of this. It made me angry and feel cheated.

    So I think the term "unsatisfying" is misused.

    And I also dislike stories about competitions and then have the MCs win only second place or lose - I feel like they're just trying to be not cliche after an entire story of cliches. If the story's gonna be cliche, just go with a lovely, heart-warming, predictable cliche ending - sometimes that's actually better. It all depends on the genre and style you're going for.
     
  17. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    No, it isn't.

    But I did read the subsequent responses in depth, and I think that maybe my ending does fill the need for 'completion.' And now that I think about it, "unsatisfying" is the wrong word. The ending does fill all of the objectives of the opening chapters. I guess it can be morose and come full-circle.
     
  18. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh, goodness, no! There usually has to be some resolution (though I can think of exceptions: a lot of Chekhov's and Joyce's short stories end when the reader has an appreciation of the situation, but with nothing at all resolved). But trying to resolve everything feels either horribly dated or horribly amateurish to me. Real life never gets to the point where all issues are resolved, so it feels unnatural in a story. Resolve enough for the reader to think that you can leave it there but they wish you'd carry on. Far better they wish you'd carry on than that they wish you'd stop!
     
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  19. skeloboy_97
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    skeloboy_97 Senior Member

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    The only exception for this would be if you were planning a direct sequel.
     
  20. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    THIS! Oh, this. I couldn't agree more, I hate the kind of endings where every piece of the puzzle fall neatly into place in the end and there is nothing left to think about. I'm not saying it has to be an open ending but just leave something to the reader to wonder about, I guess. I don't think those ones where every issue is solved are very memorable.
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Absolutely not!

    The story still needs to be complete in and of itself. Any set up for sequels must not intrude on the completeness of the current novel. And if it is your first novel, do not count on your sequel ever seeing the light of day. You haven't even sold one novel yet, in that case.

    No new writer should ever think of a series or sequel when writing their premiere novel. It pollutes your writing, even your thinking. Juggling the needs of a single novel with the needs of a multiple novel saga is a much more challenging task than writing a stand alone novel. And the standalone novel is challenge enough for a novice writer.
     
  22. louis1
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    louis1 Contributing Member

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    That's exactly what I'm doing :O,
    I'm really stubborn and I think I have a good concept so I'll keep going anyway. ahah

    Thanks everyone for the great advice, I have to keep working on my ending it still lacks something to make it perfect.
     

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