I’ve heard people say the end doesn’t really matter to publishers because, by then, the book has already sold, but endings can make or break the book from a reader’s perspective. For me, Mockingjay was a *thud* ending to The Hunger Games series, and I wasn’t all that thrilled with the epilogue in Harry Potter either.
A lot of blog threads focus on what to do and what not to do, but the challenge is there’s such a wide variety of endings — happy, sad, serious, funny, etc. I thought we’d take a slightly different approach. With examples!
Below are two of my favorite endings, based on
1) my satisfaction after reading that last page,
2) how well it fit with the rest of the book,
3) timelessness – will I look back years from now and still remember it as a great ending?
I’ve included comments about what works for me and why:
Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
Mother of us all, he was glad that now, of all times conceivable, he, F'lar, rider of bronze Mnementh, was a dragonman of Pern.
It's such a triumphant moment. The danger hasn't passed, the trouble hasn't all been solved, but you know without a doubt the characters are in this fight for the long haul and refuse to be defeated. It makes me want to pump my fist in the air and say "bring it on!"
And it definitely makes me want to pick up the next book right away.The Far Pavilions, M.M. Kaye
They rode out together from the shadows of the trees, leaving the Bala Hissar and the glowing torch of the burning residency behind them, and spurred away across the flat lands toward the mountains...
...and it may even be that they found their Kingdom.
I love this ending! These two characters have been through hell for almost 1200 pages. If you think you've seen characters put through terrible situations...believe me, Ash and Juli went through worse. From the very beginning of the book, there's been a theme of the mountains as a symbol of hope. Ash's step-mother told him a fable about a secret kingdom in the mountains when he was very young and they were on the run.
I love two things in particular about this ending:
1) The cinematic exit. In one sentence we get imagery of rider silhouettes through the trees, against the backdrop of a burning villa, and then the stark beauty of the north Indian landscape. I would so LOVE to see this on the big screen.
2) The hope. Even more than the imagery, I love that the author gives these two characters a chance at rest and a peaceful life together. It's not a promise. That would have been too strong for this book. A chance at happiness is more fitting. And that's why I love the author's choice.
What are some of your favorite endings?