All’s well that ends well

‘A plot should hold the best surprise until the last, of course…
A story’s ending must be a surprise, but a satisfying one…’
Jane Yolen

How often has a book or movie been ruined by an unsatisfactory ending? Perhaps a cliff-hanger is left, that’s more annoying than intriguing, or it leaves more questions than answers. But in a “Wait did they forget they’d posed that question?” sort of way as opposed to “I can’t wait for the sequel.”

Or maybe it was just plain boring; predictable.

What reaction does such an ending provoke? “I’m not leaving a review for that”, or worse, “I’m leaving a bad review”. “I’m not recommending it”, or worse, “I’m recommending people not to watch/read it.” So this, my writer friends, is the power of a bad ending.

Indeed the whole story leading up to it could be enjoyable, well written, engaging – and then the ending can ruin all the hard work. So I implore you writers – SPEND TIME ON YOUR ENDING!

It might sound obvious, but based on my (and assuming your) experiences of bad endings, perhaps it still needs to be said. Often writers have a story idea without an ending in mind, and that’s fine, as long as when you come to that ending, you really do give it thought. Think about the quote above – make it a surprise – and yet entirely satisfying. Make an ending that makes the reader say WHAT! Or WOW! Or even “Please tell me there’s a second book!”

I’m not saying the ending is the be-all and end-all, because a reader/watcher may never get there if they haven’t even been interested enough by the story. For example, I have no idea how Dr Strange ended as I turned it off halfway through – (controversial I know, feel free to get at me in the comment section!) But your ending can make or break your book. As mentioned above, it can be the difference between getting a good or bad review, a recommendation or a “never-read-that” (what’s the opposite to recommendation!?)

So end with a bang. Surprise yourself. As Robert Frost said:

‘No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.’


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