Where should a writer end a book? Should all loose-ends be tied up? How about leaving a hook for another book? Should a book end differently if it is part of a series versus a stand-alone novel? Are there rules for this?
The last two novels I’ve read have left me a little unsatisfied at the end. One book, the beginning of a trilogy, ended in the middle of a chase. I chewed out the person who recommended the book to me (he can influence my job security, and I chewed him out anyway – that’s how mad I was). Who ends a book during a chase? The other book tied up every possible loose end to the point of absurdity. This novel’s ending also had a few predictable elements (which isn’t always bad, but rubbed me a little wrong this time). Not going to mention the books by name, or their authors. I’m probably going to read the rest of the trilogy, and I love the author of the other novel.
A while back there was a book, second of a trilogy, which changed writing styles right at the end and summarized a lot of events instead of writing them out. Based on that, and similar sections in the third book of that series, this author is off my “hot” list. In my opinion, this particular series should have been four books, not three, with the extra book inserted between the second and third novels. Perhaps this author was under a lot of pressure to put out books quickly, and chose expediency over quality of work. It’s a shame, too, because her first novel of that series was one of the best that I have read.
I can name every book I’ve ever read that has had an unsatisfactory ending – the ending means that much. We all (assumption here) would like to have good endings to our novels. I’m no expert; I just know that some endings work and some don’t. So, I’m going to ask a few questions. You can contemplate on them, or answer them in the comments (I would love to learn from your experiences and thoughts).
As a writer:
- How early do you start planning your ending?
- Do you foreshadow the ending of your novel?
- Do you purposefully make events in your novel lead up to the ending?
- Do you tie off every loose-end or leave some as a hook?
- Do you use any rules or metrics for how long your endings are?
- Are your endings different for stand-alone novels than novels in a series?
As a reader:
- What do you expect of endings when you are reading?
- What do you dislike?
- How many bad endings can you take from one author before you decide that’s enough?
- Do you think a writer should ever rewrite and rerelease a book (like Lucas did with the original Star Wars movies)?