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Happy Endings! I finished Leo’s Story in time and sent it to the editor (who gave me 5 extra days which I sorely needed). So I am breathing a sigh of relief.

It is always hard to know how exactly to bring a story to the end. There are things I want my endings to have and I’m not always sure they do until the readers read them.
Off the top of my head, here is a list of “must-haves” for endings.
1. They must be logical. The reader should think they make sense.
2. Even though they make sense, they should also have some element of surprise
3. Little clues should occur earlier in the book so that, at the end, the reader sees why it couldn’t end any other way.
4. Loose ends should be tied up. The reader should know what happens to all the characters.
5. In romance, the ending should be happy. Or “satisfying” as RWA now defines it. Mine are always happy for the hero and heroine. Not for me to have the hero and heroine find love, then the hero goes out sailing and drowns.
My husband and I just watched a movie on Netflix that had one sort of ending that I hate. I don’t know the title of the movie, but it was all about the hero trying to rescue the heroine from a coven of witches who want to have her as a human sacrifice on winter solstice. Everything he tries doesn’t work but he does get to her in time right when the sacrifice is going to happen. Instead of the hero saving her, though, it turns out that the whole thing was a set-up and the hero becomes the human sacrifice. Then you see the heroine set up the next fellow in the exact same way.
Horror movies often have this sort of ending. Just when you think all is well, you find out it is just going to start all over again.
I’m not saying these sorts of endings are wrong. Only that I don’t like them. I much prefer the happy ending of a romance novel.
What elements to you think are important in story endings? What kind of endings do you like? What kinds don’t you like?
Thanks to all in our “Risky Community” who have been with me these last few weeks while I’ve lamented and obsessed about needing to make my deadline. I have felt very supported!
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No, I’m not finished the book, the one that was overdue and the one I was going to finish before RWA. I gave it a good try but finally had to email my editor at midnight the day before going to RWA that I wasn’t going to make it. I also realized during the conference that I’d made a misstep in the plot so I had to go back and fix that. Then I received the copy edits for Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady (Dec 2009)…So I’m just now back to writing the last 50 pages of the book. With luck, I will turn it in on Friday.

I’ve been thinking about what makes for a satisfying ending of a book. In Romance, of course, it is the Happily-Ever-After. I guarantee that will be a part of my ending. I see the ending of the book as starting with the “Black Moment,” the moment in the plot when it seems like the hero and heroine will never wind up together. The end, of course, is when the hero and heroine are together and nothing can tear them apart again.

Besides this happy ending, what else is important?

1. The ending should tie up loose ends. Subplots need resolving. Story questions need to be answered. This doesn’t mean that everything works out fine. In real life not everything works our perfectly so I like to leave some things imperfect. I think that makes the ending more memorable.

2. The hero and heroine should bring about their own happy ending. This is not the time for the friend to solve their problems for them. The hero and heroine have to figure it out and take action.

3. The ending should not be rushed. It has to be developed at a pace consistent with the rest of the book. I think this is hard to do. At this point in the writing process, most of us just want it to be over.

4. The ending should be logical and foreshadowed. This is not the time for a Deus Ex Machina to show up, the person or event created by the author to pop up and solve the ending, even though there was no inkling of this at the beginning of the book. The reader should be able to look back and realize the elements for the happy ending were in the plot all along.

5. Not an essential, but something I like to strive for is a parallel to the beginning of the book. I like to try to recreate that first scene in the ending.

What do you think is essential for a good story ending? What mistakes have you seen made?

I have absolutely nothing new on my website, but there is still time to enter the new contest.

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