Yet, tying the lose ends and giving a satisfying conclusion to your denouement takes maybe more work than writing your first chapter.
You thought you could get over the ending quickly. Not so fast!
A good ending will probably determine if your reader is going to invest in you in the future or not.
They've stayed with you the length of a novel and now they want to remember your novel in a good way, not in a disappointing way. The ending is what will stay imprinted in the reader's mind for years if you do your climax well.
Remember the movie "vertigo"?
Remember how the main character is afraid of heights?
In the climax, the MC has to climb a tower to confront the woman he loves. He is now cured of his acrophobia after facing his inner fears, but the woman he loves falls off the tower and dies.
That's the ending you're looking for: an ending built on everything you've worked for the length of a novel, but with a twist we did not expect.
Here is a list of things to watch for:
- Your climax will take several chapters.
- Go back to your first chapter and show the changes. If possible, use same situation with same setting
- Focus on the emotional impact and on the hero. Make the stakes personal (life and death situation).
- Keep long-term goal into perspective.
- End up with a twist, but make sure the twist is not out of the blue but in the realm of possibilities.
- Simple action scene with intense short sentences.
- Climactic action must be based on intense conflict, not action although action is also a good thing.
- Hero will face his biggest fear one last time and vanquish it.
- Setting will play in favor of the antagonist (meeting in his lair for example or in a place he has the advantage) and play against the hero (his fear of heights, for example). The hero will struggle against the setting until he can use the setting to his advantage.
- Do not introduce new characters at the end.
- If you are planning a sequel, end the story with a question.
- Tie up loose ends of subplots and main plot.
- Antagonist is defeated, but shows his humane side, weakness.
- Show physical conflict as well as moral conflict.
- Wrap the story up in a logical, unexpected and satisfying way.
- Tie up the ending to the story's main theme.
- Answer the story question.
- The hero’s weakness must be overcome.
- The hero learns something, realizes something about himself. He changes. He finds a new equilibrium.
- Plot reversal shows the antagonist learning something too.
- Not everything turns out right. Some things still need work and won’t solve themselves.
- Write a chapter for the resolution after the climax chapter.
- Some genres have some expectations as far as the ending is concerned (the sleuth discovers the murderer in a crime novel, the lovers end up together in a romance, the mystery is solved in a thriller).
- Do not end with a philosophical boost or describing a setting or explaining things. Leave something to the imagination of the readers so that they can keep thinking about the story.
- Leave a dangling thread.
- End up with a surprise. Climax ends up with an unforeseen event that you have inexorably set up in the novel.
- Do not introduce new information unless you have set it previously.
- You can have multiple climax.
- The longer the denouement, the bigger the payoff.
"Writing Awesome Endings." Radio show Hide and Create.