So you can read my books

Sunday, August 25, 2013


{The ghost of George Bernard Shaw recomends it}
For all of you weary souls furiously typing your fingers into nubs to finish your WIPs,

I thought the answer to that question might interest you.

I have just re-read my novel, THREE SPIRIT KNIGHT and its ending was important to me.

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?


  1. Check, check, and check! In my third book, it wraps up and satisfies all of the conflicts of the series. It will surprise readers though.

  2. Alex:
    That's the best kind of ending. :-)

  3. Casablanca's ending didn't entirely satisfy me, but it fit the time. (War-time:Patriotism should override personal wants.)

    I wanted the girl to stay with the guy. You may only get that one moment or chance for happiness. It does leave us with hope that things will improve and they may meet again. Or not.

    I will pay special attention to the ending of 3 Spirit Knight as I have 2-3 chapters left to read.

  4. D.G.:
    Nazism was truly horrendous, and most of the world stood in danger of becoming swallowed by it. At the time of CASABLANCA, the Allies were losing the war. It looked grim for the free world.

    I wanted Ilsa to stay with Rick, too. I always imagined in my mind that they got together after the war.

    I hope you are enjoying THREE SPIRIT KNIGHT. I ended it so that could be my last novel if I so chose. :-)

  5. I like the endings that seem finished- not dropped off. I don't have to be wowed but I if it's rushed or dropped off I feel jipped as a reader.

  6. Summer:
    Me, too. I ended THREE SPIRIT KNIGHT a bit like the ending of BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID. Not dropped off by caught like a freeze frame. :-)

  7. i have that full scope ending in most where i bring the events in the start to the end. sometimes it's the title that is the last few words or if a deeper meaning than the title. it will just rearrange to fit that circle.

    so i guess i write the first page and the last within minutes of each other. it will develop and change as the story progresses.

  8. My favorite endings answer all the major questions the story poses, resolves the central conflict— but not all conflicts. Conflict is what makes our characters real—none of us lives without conflict. And when I turn that last page, I want the characters to stay with me. Best endings of all come with a surprise (yay, Alex!), not a calculated surprise intended to manipulate the reader, but one that's organic to the story.

    VR Barkowski

  9. Jeremy:
    Wise move. It is best to have a fixed destination in mind -- even if in the course of the prose journey the destination changes in your heart.

    How true: none of us stay without conflict so our characters seem real if there is always a thorn in their flesh in some fashion.

    A surprise is what makes the best jokes and novels work, right? And yes, YAY, Alex!! :-)