|Death Proof (2007)|
Since I'm working on the ending to my current book, last scenes are on my mind. I thought I'd review my thoughts and see if you have anything to add. Have you ever read a book that kept you turning the pages, only to have it fizzle out on a weak ending? Something that wasn't worthy of the characters' struggle? I have, and I don't want to be guilty of it. It's such a disappointment.
The last scene should be the longest in the story. This is what the reader has been waiting for. Don't cheat him. Make it worth the wait. All the minor characters should have their problems resolved or settled by the last big scene. The protagonist and the antagonist should be the focus of the final confrontation. This is the fight or confrontation the reader has waded through the rest of the story to reach.
The ending should satisfy the reader, which requires three things:
1. The conflict is resolved and all the problems solved.
2. There are no loose ends.
3. Everyone gets what he deserves.
End the story as soon as the problem is solved. Leave the reader with a good feeling. Don't leave anything hanging unless there will be a sequel, and even then, it should be fairly subtle. Remember Star Wars? Han Solo was dropped into the cryogenic tank or whatever, where he will be frozen forever. We saw him drop, but we never saw him die, leaving the possibility of his return.
The last scene should be the most dramatic in the story. Pull out all the stops. Even though you know in your heart that the good guy will win, there should be doubt. Can he really overcome those odds?
Make the characters who have something at stake participate in the final conflict. Don't let anyone step in for a main character. No police show up to save the heroine from the bad guy (but she could disable or hold him until they arrive J). She must save herself, although she could have help from another primary character. No divine intervention! The heavens cannot open and put out the forest fire with rain when the main characters are surrounded by the blaze. The bad guy cannot have a heart attack that stops him from killing the hero. The abusive husband can’t die from a gas leak so the wife and children are saved.
Obviously the ending has to fit the story--it doesn't have to be a big, dramatic scene but it should still be satisfying.
Now, how can I achieve this from where I am in my story?