I suppose the conclusion of a novel is an odd place to start writing tips. And I really have no real reason for starting here… other than this is what struck me today!
In concluding your novel, there is one key thing to remember:
Imagine that you, the author, have taken your readers for a magnificent plane ride (or if you prefer the fantastical, like me, a Pegasus ride). On this ride, you have soared over snow crusted mountain peaks stabbing like needles to pierce the sky, swooped through dense forest thickets, and glided above crystalline mountain pools.
Your readers have witnessed beauty, good, and evil in concrete forms. Experienced joy and sorrow, loveliness and ugliness. Felt the thrill of victory only to understand the depth of despair and through it all the courage of endurance and faith.
And now at last, rounding a final mountain top, you approach your destination and… plunge to a screeching stop.
Wait a moment? What happened?
The conclusion of a novel is just as important as the first chapter, in my opinion. The first chapter whets the appetite, gains attention, and sets expectations. The last chapter fulfills them.
So, in concluding your novel, you cannot simply drop down like a helicopter and jar your poor readers! Descend slowly and gently. Prepare your readers to transition back to their own world.
A good conclusion leaves the readers satisfied, if not entirely satiated. Readers should finish reading both desiring more and content with what they have read. It is similar to eating a really good meal. At the end, you know that you have eaten enough but it tastes so good, your mouth wants more!
Note: I am not saying that ending with a cliff hanger is bad. I, to a certain degree, am a fan of cliff hangers. Just remember, even with a cliff hanger, that your goal is not to frustrate your audience! Intrigue but do not irritate them!
What are some books that you can think of that have both good and not-so-good conclusions?
Quick update on life: school is keeping me very busy so I haven’t had much time to do some real writing, but it’s been good! And just last week, I sent a newly revised version of Out of Darkness Rising off to the publisher along with the cover vote feedback so I’m waiting to hear back about that! :)