Sunday, 20 November 2011

Ending it well

A lot of novels, a bit like some relationships, don’t end well.

I have read many good books that fail to deliver in the final chapters and pages. In some cases, it has almost felt like the author has run out of ideas and it is a great disappointment when a page turning novel can’t sustain the pace until the end.

I always start with the ending. I never start to write until I know where I am heading, especially with fiction. My problem is in reaching that final destination and not what to do when I get there.

I can quote some great openings to novels but not so many endings. A good novel should have a satisfying conclusion and (for me) that doesn’t just mean a happy ending. A ‘good’ ending is one that isn’t too predictable or contrived but still ties up all those loose ends and sub plots with maybe one or two surprises that you didn’t see coming.

Easier said than done? Most of the time, it seems, yes! We have all read books where it was obvious from page one ‘whodunit’ or where the story has just fizzled out. Even worse, is when you stick with a book because you are convinced there has to be more to it but there is no redeeming ‘big finish’.

At a writing class I attended we were told the importance of grabbing the reader’s attention from the outset, to start at the point of conflict and make the beginning as good as it can possibly be. I would add, make sure that you end it well, otherwise your readership is unlikely to rush to read your next story or novel.

If you always end it well, the only disappointment your readers feel is that your book has ended and not that it ended badly.