I received a request for general rules on how to end a good, loving story. Or any story for that matter. Although I HATE writing rules, here are my thoughts.
- Good endings wrap up loose ends. All questions should be answered. When I start your book, you and I have a pact: I’ll read to the end; you’ll tie everything up in a neat bow. That is my payoff for spending my precious time with your characters. Yes, some story lines carry onto future books– still, give me some sense that the main characters end happy.
- There should be a reiteration of the growing commitment the couple has. Yes, I KNOW they love each other, but let me sense their deepening regard. A touch, a look, a promise, let me wallow in their happiness for a few lines more.
Will those lines be overly dramatic? Stick in a reader’s throat like gummy oatmeal? I’m not suggesting the characters wallow, just a pledge, a kiss, a sharing of the loving asides they have both enjoyed. I’ll be happy with that. I promise.
A glimpse at the future gives me the sense that all is right in book world. Years ago, a publisher put out a line where the ending could be “happy for right now.” No formal commitment; no sense of willingness to take the next step. The series line didn’t last long . . . because I believe those of us who read romance aren’t interested in the love-the-one-you’re-with scenario. I read Romance for the “this is it” kind of love. I believe in that love. I’ve lived it. And something makes me deliriously happy when I can recapture that sense of complete happiness for characters in a book. (Yes, fictional characters can be remarkably exciting and real to me.)
So, let me know if, together, your characters can realize their dearest hopes and dreams. Give me a sense that, no matter what comes their way, they will always trust and value each other. Yes, I know they will have bills to pay and arguments to argue. That is life. But love helps us overcome the petty, even in real life.
Readers—what thoughts do you have for endings? Anything I left out? Any peeves?