So you can read my books

Friday, July 5, 2013


Before I sent END OF DAYS off to be narrated by FRANCENE LOCKETT,

I went over it carefully for flaws that might throw off my voice actress.  I studied the ending intently.

An inept ending can kill your otherwise great book. So what questions do you need to ask about your ending?

1. Does it resolve the core conflict of the novel?
This is the big "this is what my book is about" question that your protagonist has spent the entire book trying to achieve.

 This is a biggie for series books, as there's a larger story arc across multiple books. But the goal in that one book needs to be resolved.

 2. Does it satisfy the major questions posed in the novel?

You don't have to tie up all the loose ends, but there are probably a few major things in the story readers will want to know answers to.

3. Is this the ending most readers are hoping for?

 We've all read books where we wanted one ending, but the book ended another way. Let down the reader, and you can bet she or he will not recommend your book.

4. Is your last line memorable, summing up your entire novel?

The trick of a good ending, of course, is that it must capture and equal everything that has gone before.

The line “He loved Big Brother” (from a novel that ends as masterfully as it begins) means very little until you understand exactly who Big Brother is. 

A great last line will have your reader putting down the book on her lap, murmuring, "Wow."  Guess what book she next recommends to her friends?

5.  A bad ending will unfailingly kill a good story. Is your ending such a one? 

 The ending is why the reader just invested their valuable time reading your story, and if it stinks, then they've wasted that time

6. Is there CHANGE at the end?

What makes a good ending hinges on the same things that make a good story. And the most important thing that makes a good story is change.

If nothing changes, nothing happens. And if nothing happens, you've got no story.

7. Do your characters save themselves or at least those they love?

If the U.S.S. Enterprise sails over the horizon to zap the bad guys in the nick of time. Say good-bye to repeat readers.

8. Resonance is the new Closure. Does your ending have it?

One symbol, or moment, from the beginning of the story is repeated at the end. By the time the story is done it means something else completely.

The ending echoes the beginning. It gives a sense that the story has come full circle.

9. Does it establish a new normal?

The heroes begin a new life. Sometimes the farm boy returns to the farm. Sometimes the farm boy becomes king. Sometimes the hero decides to set out on a new journey.

It's a chance to show how the character has been altered by the journey, and what they're going to do with that new knowledge.

10. What are your favorite kind of endings?

The best endings leave me full, and remain with me for days.

The best books make me wish they never end, but I know they have to.  Which is why I enjoy series books.

That's the sort of ending I like. What about you?

In END OF DAYS, the last Lakota shaman, Wolf Howl, plays an important role.

For only $6 you can listen to his greatest adventures:


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I like optimistic endings where the protagonist, notwithstanding all the stuff he's gone through in the novel, is in essence starting out on a new life. Like Stephen Daedalus at the end of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

    (Sorry about previous muffed-off commentary requiring a scrub.)

  3. The ending of Casablanca is a classic! These are some good questions, Roland. A checklist. Thanks for posting this!

  4. Story endings must tease a bit, to create an interest. I like an ending with a promise of more. I like the common thread that weaves through a story.

    Very timely, Roland. I'm reviewing an ending for a suspense story. I'll use these points to give it another edit.

    'The Last Shaman' is sitting in my virtual TBR shelf.

  5. Great post, Roland! With all your knowledge, someday, you'll have to take the plunge and write a book on writing. We would all be smarter for reading it. :)

  6. Awesome checklist. I've had some of these questions come up in my own novel endings.

    Its been a long time since I saw Casablanca.


  7. i want a lord of the rings ending... where i get to journey on that boat heading into the sunset...

    really on things that i have written this serves as a great post, though i like any good horror film.

    jeremy said, i must know if this is the end and then add... ?

  8. Good questions to ask. Tweeted.

    Hope all is well with you.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  9. I sure hope so to all of the above. I always say that I want to linger with the reader. I want aftertaste. This is your resonance, and I want a ~chill~ to go through the reader when they hit that last line, and I want the reader to read furiously through that last scene thinking and hoping what is about to happen will happen.

    - Eric

  10. Steven:
    I'm for the upbeat ending, too. Depressed I can get for free!

    Words Crafter:
    I love the snappy dialogue of CASABLANCA, too. And to think it had multiple writers!

    I hope I help in some small way with your story. THE LAST SHAMAN I think you'll like. It has GrandMother from THE BEAR WITH TWO SHADOWS.

    I and my ghost friends wrote GHOST WRITERS IN THE SKY, my "How to write Manual." Only 99 cents. Just saying. I'm glad you liked my post. :-)

    I've watched CASABLANCA so often that now I can only certain favorite snippets of it -- the same with THE WRATH OF KHAN. I hope my list helps a bit.

    Who knows our end? We can only hope to meet it with humor and compassion. It does seem most horror movies end with the promise of a return engagement with the beastie!

    And I hope all is well with you, too! :-)

    Yes, I think all of us want to tug the reader along with suspense and eagerness as to what happens next. It's hard to achieve though!