Tuesday, November 29, 2011

...dead end

ever read a book thats a dead end? you know – one that had a real crummy ending. it makes you sooo mad you wasted your time and you wanna stomp on that book. for sure youre gonna think twice before reading stuff by that author ever again.

we talk lots about the start of a book – that hook stuff that gets the reader wanting to read more. but we dont talk so much about endings and for sure theyre way important too. it doesnt have to be “happily ever after” but for sure you gotta give the reader something that could make him feel satisfied.

its sorta like eating a meal. the appetizers just enough so you still wanna eat more. the main course is what keeps you eating (if the food tastes yummy). the desserts a satisfying ending (if you don’t eat too much and get sick. ha ha). you could eat a real good meal but if the dessert doesnt taste good youre not gonna be happy and for sure youre not getting that dessert again.

heres some common types of endings (reference)
1. Explicit - answers all the questions and wraps up everything. lots of times tells what happens to the main characters. leaves the reader satisfied.
2. Implicit - based on interpretation. mostly used in short fiction.
3.Twist - unexpected or twisted. everything the reader believes gets thrown out at the end, and is replaced by a new revelation.
4. Tie-back ending – ties the end of the story back to clues planted in the beginning.
5. Unresolved - main conflicts are left unanswered. The reader is left to ponder the outcome. Cliffhanger endings fall in this category.
6. Long view ending –tells what happens to the characters a significant timeframe into the future.

heres some good tips for ending a your novel
1. dont write the end til you feel the time is right and that could be anytime
2. wrap things up and answer all the plot questions.
3. dont kill off your mc unless you got a really really good reason
4. get in, finish and get out. keep things simple and clear
5. start early and move towards the end slowly
6. epilogs are ok. remember theyre not the end, they just come at the end.
7. avoid endings that make the reader wonder what happened.
8. dont come at the reader too fast and catch him off guard
9. don’t force it - make sure the ending fits the story and the characters
10. write endings that fit your genre

theres bunches more good tips for doing good endings. how bout you? how do you avoid dead ends? what could you add to this list?

...hugs from lenny


  1. What a great post! I love the "get in, get out" suggestions. Some of us do love to drag things out, don't we? :)

    I am just working on a new ending to my book, and it's a lot of building from the very first chapter. So I've got lots of work to do.

    I'm not a lover of cliffhangers, but they can get me to buy the next book!

  2. wow Lenny, I am impressed. What an informative post. I will certainly jot down the points that you mentioned. They make sense. Also trying to figure out an ending can also encourage us to get going with the book. Thanks for your suggestions !

  3. How old are you? This was an excellent post, boy...I wish I had the confidence and the know how to write as you do. You make wonderful suggestions in how to end a story. I only do short stories, a plan for a book is hanging around somewhere...(actually it sits in my desk drawer...hiding). I just don't have the patience nor the drive to put it together. Maybe in 5 years, or 10, I've always been a late bloomer. To answer your question, no I can't think of a time I read a book and was not satisfied with the ending. 'If' I have, I don't remember, and if I don't remember it's probably due to the fact that the book was BORING! Later.....

  4. Lenny you're as smart as ever! I forget how much I enjoy stopping in!! Sorry I've been so distant. You're still by far my favoritest blog buddy! Glad to see you're still doing well and shoveling out some fabulous advice!

    Stay strong & sweet!

    YA Tournament of Heroines: Hermione is my Heroine... Care to join?

  5. Lenny, this post is positively brilliant! Wow, wow, wow!! I will definitely be showing this to my writing classes. I wish my 11th graders knew as much as you do about good writing! :-)

  6. Those are some great tips! Leaving the reader satisfied is no small trick. ;)

  7. I'm finishing up a book today with a great ending - the kind that I didn't see coming but I realize now I should have. That's my favorite - when it ties back to the beginning and you realize you should have known how it was going to end all along, but you didn't.

  8. Great post!

    I do like an explicit ending that ties everything up -- HOWEVER, I tend to remember the implicit, twist, and tie-back endings better.

    I guess everybody wants to feel satisfied, but endings that make us think last longer in our minds. ('Cause they're making us think, duh!)

  9. This is a great post Lenny. I so agree that the ending has to satisfy the reader even if it ends in a cliffhanger because there's a sequel coming. I loved your analogy to a meal. I think it helps to create a satisfying ending to know what it is when you start writing the story so you can plant tips and twists that lead up to it.

    Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving!

  10. I like books that have a clear resolution and shows that the character has grown. I enjoy cliff hangers at the end of a chapter, but not at the end of a book. Even if there is a sequel, I like to feel some resolution at the end of the first book.

    Wonderful post, Lenny!

  11. Great list!

    And I love your point about epilogues--I've read some books that included one after an ending that, on its own, left me feeling very unsatisfied.

  12. Great advice Lenny. I love the point about epilogues! They really aren't the ending - the ending still has to work on its own!

    I have read a few books with really rotten endings. And, like you, I've never picked up a book by that author again!

  13. What a great post on endings! Very useful for writers. I sometimes like to read stories with cliffhangers, but only if some of the conflicts feel resolved so that the story feels satisfying in some way. Twist endings are pretty cool, too. I like what you said about epilogues, too. Well done!

  14. yikes! i have yet to write an ending i'm happy with, but when i get to that point, you can sure bet i'll come back here (assuming i remember- i can be scatter-brained) and make sure i review all your excellent points! thanks mr. lenny!

  15. Great tips here, duly copied to my notes.

    And yeah, I once threw a book across the room 'cause I didn’t like the ending. It’s like going for a long walk with someone, enjoying it the whole way, and at the end they kick you in the shins and shove you into a pond! :P

  16. Your analogy is awesome, Lenny. But not as awesomely cool as you are. :-)

    These are excellent tips. I can't believe you know so much. When I was your age, I didn't know as much as you do.

    May I copy and paste? I want to hang this up in my office right beside my computer.

    Btw, I changed my ending in SEVENTY-TWO HOURS a few weeks ago. It is so much better now. And I recently read a book that had an awful ending. It left me cold. I waited the whole book and wasn't satisfied. Very disappointing. *waving and smiling*

  17. Great stuff, Lenny! Personally I don't mind if a story does not have a happy ending, but you're right: it still has to resolve things.

  18. Wow, Lenny, you've really been doing your homework! :) Great tips, sugar. And yeah, crummy endings suck.

  19. I totally agree with you! I've thrown books across the room because the ending made me so mad ;P I love all the research you've done on this!

  20. This is brilliant, Lenny! Nothing irriates me more than an unsatisfying ending. I've been close to throwing books across the room. If an author does this once to me, I'm hesitant to buy the next book. If I do buy the next one, and they do it again. I won't buy anymore books by that author. I don't trust her anymore.

  21. Fantastic post and great tips, Lenny. There's nothing worse than a dead end, is there?

  22. Wow, you must've read my mind, I just finished reading a dead-end book a few days ago. (It's an old book, so the author's not around anymore, but it was supposed to be a classic and it just left me disappointed.)

    Hopefully you don't run into too many lousy endings.

  23. Hi Lenny .. great lesson you've given us here .. I try to keep my blog posts interesting ... hope you can find the latest one enticing enough to get near the end .. you might find a surprise?!

    I hate books with dumb endings .. or being let down .. I really do like to finish fully and properly ...

    As you manage to do with your posts ... and as Katrina says I really don't like being disappointed ..

    Cheers for now .. Hilary

  24. Wow! Great tips for endings. I'm guilty of leaving cliffhangers, but I'm trying to work on that more. Lol

  25. Lenny, this was an AWESOME post about book endings. I'm guilty about dragging things out at times. Thanks for all the wonderful tips.
    : )

  26. Great thoughts, Lenny! I'm not a huge fan of cliffhangers, especially when the main issues in the plot haven't been resolved. :)

  27. What a great post, Lenny! You hit on some really great points, and you're right, we do need to pay more attention to endings!

    I sometimes like a bit of an unresolved ending, but I think the major plot points should be tied up. I feel like books should be as stand-alone as possible, even if they belong in a series.

  28. Wonderful post! I'm reworking my ms's ending now, so this is great :D

  29. Thanks for the great post, Lenny! Your comparison to the courses of a meal was right on! Endings are very important and may have a large influence on whether you want to read anything else from that author again. Your posts are always satisfying and enjoyable from beginning to end!

  30. You hit the nail on the head about endings. Great list, Lenny. I'm always rewriting my endings, trying different scenarios to make them satisfying.

  31. This is a fantastic post, Lenny!! I love the way you broke it down. Endings are paramount to not only the success of a story but the likelihood that a reader will return to another work for said writer. I agree that endings don't have to be all sweet and happy...just unforgettable. :)

  32. I hate, hate, hate dead ending books. I've thrown more than I've wanted to across the room.
    Great post Lenny!

  33. I've been known to stomp on a book (not a library book though) or two that had a tedious ending. Endings that fizzle and sputter and don't seem to know where they're going are a real turn off. I'm glad I'm not an author, or life would be even more challenging! Have a great week Lenny

  34. Great post! I like everything to get tied up with books I read. I try not to start a series until it's complete so if there are a bunch of cliffhangers, I won't have to wait a year to find out what happens!

    Merry Christmas!

  35. EXCELLENT tips, Lenny!!!

  36. You have some GREAT advice, Lenny! Thanks for sharing. :o) Endings really make or break a novel. If it falls flat, then it just makes the reader angry, like you showed so beautifully.

    Merry Christmas, my friend!

  37. I so agree with you, Lenny! When I read a book with a bad ending, I get mad at the author. We invest hours a book, so it's disappointing to be left unsatisfied.

    Cliffhangers really annoy me! Even if it's a series, there needs to be enough tied ends.

  38. Great breakdown of the different types of endings, Lenny!

    For me, I never start writing a story unless I know how it will end. I always know how a book will start, how it will end and a few key scenes throughout. It gives me a roadmap to follow, but still leaves room for me to do whatever I want. :)

  39. AWESOME POST....great information. THANKS.

    Stop by my blog if you like for an e-book giveaway...and my reviews the newest of which is THE WICKED WIVES.





Whatever wonderful, witty and wise words you manage to come up with!