After receiving some feedback on a short story this week, which said the ending was weak and let down an otherwise solid piece, I decided to have a look at what else I could have done with it.
To satisfy the reader the ending of a story has to bring a sense of coming full circle, so that the ending is not entirely unexpected and has been predicted in some (maybe slight) way. The central character has to resolve their problems without a magic wand or waking up from a dream. The ending has to be credible and suit the mood of the story. A sudden death in an upbeat story would leave the reader feeling cheated, as would the opposite. An appropriate ending will leave readers able to imagine what happens after the words on the page has finished as they will know and understand the characters well enough to believe in their futures.
Endings can be happy – when the characters get what they rightly deserve and have strived for.
Tragic – this can be trickier to pull off as the reader has to be satisfied this was the only option for the character.
Bitter-sweet – there has to be a strong moral dilemma for the character, where he or she has to relinquish something in order to achieve his goal (think hero who gives up his life to save the kingdom).
Twist – this has to be set up carefully with clues and red herrings throughout the story.
Unresolved – leaving the reader to make up their own mind which way the character goes can be very thought provoking or just downright annoying.
So … well, all things considered I rather liked the ending to my story, and thought it fitted the rest of the narrative quite well. I’ve spent the afternoon working on it and given the main character some more emotion and made her decision more conscious and determined. I hope this has made the ending appropriately stronger, as I’ve sent it off elsewhere – well, what else would you expect as a satisfying ending?