That’s a heavy quote . . . Let’s lighten the mood with a humorous list of ways an author can end a story.
- Don’t do it! You might never have another idea and people already like this one. Even if you have another idea, it might pale in comparison to what you’re working on at this moment. You can never stop! Squeeze every bit of lore out of this story and then give it an open-ended finale to allow yourself to come back later. Eternity is the only way to survive!
- Aim for some level of closure. Sure, you can leave things open for another tale, but bring this story to a true end. That way, if you don’t come back, the series has an actual ending. Keep in mind that closure is something you should probably ease into instead of one sudden ‘bad guy dies and everyone goes home for cake’ paragraph. Shocks can work for some genres, but even those have a prior build up.
- Plan a little before you head into the final lap. I’m not saying that you should know exactly what you’re going to do. Just a general idea will help guide you into the final port. It could be knowing who will win, who dies, who marries, or anything that gives you a feeling that this is coming to an end.
- Never be afraid to take a step away if you feel yourself becoming too emotional about ending the story. Not doing this can cause you to sabotage the finale. Even if you’re writing something sad, you need to stay mostly clear-headed here. The dismount is always one of the hardest parts because you can ruin the whole thing by slipping at the end. Word of your shoddy finale will spread and people won’t want to give you a chance if they know they will disappointed.
- You can only do the fake out endings so much before you wake up to find the head of a Legolas cardboard cutout in your bed. Seriously, I think Peter Jackson has that tactic trademarked.
- If you’re writing a book with multiple heroes then you can consider doing an array of endings. Not everyone needs to get a happy one or a bad one. This is something you should probably think about early in the process because you need to aim each one for their assigned ‘fate’. Can’t have a character who wants to be alone suddenly get happily married with kids. There needs to be consistency here on an individual basis.
- Don’t let other people tell you how to finish your story. They will want to see something that you might not have planned for, which can offset everything. Even the most loyal reader will look through their own lenses to decipher your work according to their own existence. There will always be a point where the author and the reader will see things differently. It will come out in the ending, which is why they are exciting in the first place. If your finale is seen coming or chosen by someone else then you might have missed something along the way. I’m guessing a contact lens or your wallet since those always go missing.