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EmmaSohan
November 24th, 2018, 07:43 PM
Sooner or later, you have to write a climactic ending. Luke Skywalker destroying the Death Star. Dorothy killing the wicked witch. James Bond saving the world (again).

What do you like to put in your endings? What do you like or not like in the endings you read (or see?)?

I have about four things I want to suggest, and there's some standard answers too, but I think there's maybe a lot of possible answers to this so-important question.

EmmaSohan
November 24th, 2018, 08:04 PM
Who.

In Mr. Mercedes, the main character is trying to catch the villain, the villain is taunting the MC, and the conflict is personal. In the final climactic scene, the MC gets a heart attack, and the two people who came with him have to stop the villain.

That was wrong. I respect King and assume he had some good reason for doing that, but it wasn't good enough; the content editor should have just said "rewrite". So, have your MC thwart the villain. That advice is too obvious.

In another book, the MC is on a quest, picks up three sidekicks, then defeats the villain by herself. I wrote a different ending with all four of them working together, and it was a lot better. I have written endings where the MC triumphs by herself, so I won't call that wrong at all. The point is to consider including those sidekicks.

For example, in the first Harry Potter book, Harry triumphs only with the help of Hermione and Ron. Or, Luke is forced to face the Death Star all by himself. Then, when he is about to be destroyed, Hans Solo appears. In the final moments, Obi-Wan Kenobe's spirit talks to Luke.Half-jokingly, that's the only way to fit two people in a single-person jet plane.

So, if the sidekicks are friends or a team has been formed, think of including them in the finale.

Ralph Rotten
November 24th, 2018, 08:19 PM
Yep, you get better action if you use multiple characters.
I have never been a fan of stories where the hero essentially does everything, and all the good ideas come from the hero.
I prefer to have the hero/heroine save/befriend someone who later turns out to be a great resource.
After all, why have clever sidekicks if they are not going to contribute cleverly, right?


Here is a good example of a book where the hero is the catalyst for everything that happens.
The series sells well (due to the authors marketing efforts) but the hero is fairly 2D.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CYR3Z2W/ref=series_rw_dp_sw

Terry D
November 24th, 2018, 10:21 PM
Sooner or later, you have to write a climactic ending. Luke Skywalker destroying the Death Star. Dorothy killing the wicked witch. James Bond saving the world (again).

What do you like to put in your endings? What do you like or not like in the endings you read (or see?)?

I have about four things I want to suggest, and there's some standard answers too, but I think there's maybe a lot of possible answers to this so-important question.

Well, first off the climax of a book isn't the end of the book -- that would be the denouement. Books never end at the climax. Each book's climax is different. There's no formula you can follow to achieve a satisfying one. You say the climax of Mr. Mercedes was wrong; it wasn't. It is actually a more satisfying climax than in most King novels. When Hodges goes down with his heart attack, it ratchets up the tension to a whole new level. Hodges is the experienced, veteran cop. When he's taken out of the picture, saving the day falls to a teenager and a highly neurotic, fearful woman. That was a stroke of genius on King's part, and, in light of the subsequent novels in the Hodges trilogy (and the connected novel, Outsider) added a good bit of character development and backstory.

The structure and development of your story will determine how the climax will play out. Sometimes the sheriff will have to face the man in the black hat at high noon all by himself, and sometimes the kids will need to band together and face IT.

EmmaSohan
November 25th, 2018, 01:18 AM
That was a stroke of genius on King's part, and, in light of the subsequent novels in the Hodges trilogy (and the connected novel, Outsider) added a good bit of character development and backstory.

Thanks! Yes, the choice was so odd, I wondered if he was setting up those characters for a future novel (or two). Maybe I would have read the next book if the ending to the first one had been better (she said snarkily).

Taking the main character out of the action probably wasn't the only way to ratchet up the tension.

Also, the MC gets a girlfriend. But King couldn't include her in the ending battle because he killed her off. I assume that appeals to his fan base.

luckyscars
November 25th, 2018, 02:42 AM
That was wrong. I respect King and assume he had some good reason for doing that, but it wasn't good enough; the content editor should have just said "rewrite". So, have your MC thwart the villain. That advice is too obvious.


King's endings usually kind of suck. I believe he knows it too.

I remember reading an interview in which he said how coming up with a satisfying conclusion to his stories has often been difficult, especially in his earlier work (which I assume to mean his really early work as it was a pretty old interview). I also know some of his books had their endings changed verbatim to those proposed by beta readers: King's son came up with the ending of 11/22/63 for example after King had written it totally differently. Pretty good example of the importance of listening to feedback regardless of what level you are at and accepting sometimes other people know best.

Anyway, so I would not look to King for the sublime example of a "climactic ending".

I don't worry too much about endings. I think writers tend to place way too much stock in it. Why does an ending have to be at all exciting? Why does it have to be anything? As long as it is truly an ending it is guaranteed to work.

I think its worth remembering when it comes to the end of a story that you've already "got their money" both literally and metaphorically, so this is essentially dessert after a long meal: Nice when its nice, but not a big issue if its forgettable. There are plenty of books I love I don't care for (or even remember) how they ended. Equally there are plenty of books with pretty clever little twists or whatever that I struggled to get to because most of the story just wasn't great.

The old adage "it's about the journey not the destination" is true. Assuming you're not obliged to come up with a sequel, the ending is the one place you can generally get away with doing whatever you want with no consequences.

moderan
November 25th, 2018, 05:00 AM
I have a tendency to get carried away with a denouement in which the main character gets carried away, following the time-honored Raymond Chandler climax after a man with a gun is introduced into the scene. Previously I tended to have the main character dance in place mindlessly following the tying-together-of-plot-threads events. I suppose this is progress.
King, like Ramsey Campbell, does not excel at creating terrifying endings. Most horror critters are laughable if you think about it too much. An alien clown that lives in the sewer? An animated (as in actually alive) film? Hmm. The reveal kills everything unless you're encountering something like Lovecraft for the first time.
But the characters aren't given that time or the ability to achieve such perspective, and that's the genius of the work, that it propels the reader along the same trajectory.

luckyscars
November 25th, 2018, 06:53 AM
I have a tendency to get carried away with a denouement in which the main character gets carried away, following the time-honored Raymond Chandler climax after a man with a gun is introduced into the scene. Previously I tended to have the main character dance in place mindlessly following the tying-together-of-plot-threads events. I suppose this is progress.
King, like Ramsey Campbell, does not excel at creating terrifying endings. Most horror critters are laughable if you think about it too much. An alien clown that lives in the sewer? An animated (as in actually alive) film? Hmm. The reveal kills everything unless you're encountering something like Lovecraft for the first time.
But the characters aren't given that time or the ability to achieve such perspective, and that's the genius of the work, that it propels the reader along the same trajectory.

I am not a horror obsessive, but I find that the great majority of the time denouement in horror particularly...is done badly.

Stephen King's "Misery" comes to mind. A great piece of psychological warfare for however many hundred pages that ends with a fairly lengthy and very boring whimper of bull. A final chapter in which King being King cannot resist but revisiting his time-honored "alcoholic with writers block" trope for reasons that seem meaningless (the part about him becoming addicted to the same painkillers Annie Wilkes enslaved him with is a nice bit of irony admittedly, but why an alcoholic?) and culminating with some nonsense concerning a kid and a skunk that then contrives to be a happy ending for the MC.

It feels rushed and hungover. Worst of all is how inconsistent it seems with the rest of the plot (I remember reading it four times to try to understand what the point was supposed to be) and thus there is zero point - its just words. That, to me, is King's greatest weakness.

On the other hand, a great example of denouement in horror would be, for me, something like Jack Ketchum's "The Girl Next Door" - a book not entirely dissimilar in tone and theme to Misery. This works for me because its simple - the narrative voice throughout is of an older man recounting a series of events from childhood - and offers context in a way that is original but unpretentious. It's just the narrator recounting the aftermath of the event and how it haunts him. It also loops up well with the opening passages. No magic skunks or random alcoholism, just a standard epilogue.

I think the major minefield when writing an ending lies in not being tempted to force a meaning where it doesn't rise naturally. There's nothing worse than a book that feels like it's trying so darn hard to say something. That's probably true for the entire process but its especially jarring in an ending because most of us readers are so entirely burned out on "the feels".

Kyle R
November 25th, 2018, 02:55 PM
Sooner or later, you have to write a climactic ending. Luke Skywalker destroying the Death Star. Dorothy killing the wicked witch. James Bond saving the world (again).

What do you like to put in your endings? What do you like or not like in the endings you read (or see?)?

I like it best when the main story conflict is brought to the highest possible point of tension—a sort of all or nothing moment.

I like when the protagonists are in danger of falling forever, either physically or emotionally.

I like when minor characters from earlier in the story play a role in the climax.

I like when the climax involves some sort of intense physical conflict.

I like when the reader/viewer is led to believe that all is lost, only to be rewarded with a victory at the end.

I like the victory to come with a heavy cost. :encouragement:

Dluuni
November 25th, 2018, 03:20 PM
I think its worth remembering when it comes to the end of a story that you've already "got their money" both literally and metaphorically, so this is essentially dessert after a long meal: Nice when its nice, but not a big issue if its forgettable.
I disagree, and for exactly the reasons that you give here. Yes, you have their money. But, will you have their money when you put out your next novel? Much of the sales that you may expect to get are going to be from repeat customers. People who love your writing, and are in a rush to buy your next book as soon as they see it on the shelves. Leaving your readers unsatisfied flies in the face of that.

Kyle R
November 25th, 2018, 04:55 PM
Yes, you have their money. But, will you have their money when you put out your next novel? Much of the sales that you may expect to get are going to be from repeat customers.

I agree. As the adage goes: "Your opening sells your book. Your ending sells your next book." :encouragement:

EmmaSohan
November 25th, 2018, 05:02 PM
Prep.

From one website (https://writingcooperative.com/how-to-use-deus-ex-machina-like-stephen-king-104385e833f2):


You know those stories where the ending comes out of nowhere and blindsides you with an other-worldly force that saves the main character from certain death and annihilation? They’re frustrating, right? Why have the main character suffer through countless trials and tribulations only to have a divine presence swoop in and save him or her?
It’s called “deus ex machina” and it’s a literary device that experts recommend you avoid.


The general principle, I think, is to not introduce new elements into your climactic ending. A new character does not suddenly appear to save the day. The superhero doesn't magically have some new superpower.

James Bond never pulls out a new weapon the viewer doesn't know about -- the viewer learns about it at the start of the movie. (If the viewer forgot about it -- all the better.)

Do you add new items to your climax? Do you try to avoid that?


How seriously do you take this? In one of my endings, the witch casts a magical spell. Because of some last-minute advice, I ended up describing that magic spell a few chapters previously, and it's limitations. The ending worked a lot better for that.

So, one thing that can happen in your book is that the MC gathers the things needed to defeat the villain in the final climax. Skills. Friends. Knowledge. Confidence.

I can think of exceptions. Some personality growth. Realizing that a friend has more talent than the MC thought. I have no problem with God intervening as long as it's in the religious-genre and there's a lot of set up and really it's the MC finding belief that summons God.

Kyle wrote: "I like when the reader/viewer is led to believe that all is lost, only to be rewarded with a victory at the end." If you actually "paint yourself into a corner" to achieve that goal, then you might need to bring in something new to escape. But you can also leave yourself an out, even if you hope the reader doesn't see it.

Have you done that?

moderan
November 25th, 2018, 08:43 PM
I don't do heroes/villains. Any victories are therefore either Pyrrhic or relative.

James Bond never pulls out a new weapon the viewer doesn't know about -- the viewer learns about it at the start of the movie. (If the viewer forgot about it -- all the better.)
Editing takes care of stuff like that. But yeah.
I like a twist ending, but you still have to have reasons for the twist, and it has to work within the interior logic.
For example, a recent short story went from having a ghost slip away forever to the narrator joining with the ghost beyond the grave. The first option was just too ordinary. So I had to go back and introduce little notes of melancholy and a smol death-fantasy to make it all wrap up.

Guard Dog
November 26th, 2018, 03:12 AM
I'm curious... How do you folks feel about an ending that leaves you wondering which way the MC chose?

For instance, at the end of a major conflict, one where the character has a choice, but it's more or less a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" sort of thing, you're left with him/her standing there, absolutely confounded over which way to go?

Because at the end of my story, that's what I've always had planned out to happen.

And yes, the reader will know he survived. At least in this instance. It's not a matter of him doing something and dying, or not, and surviving.





G.D.

Dluuni
November 26th, 2018, 05:03 PM
It robs you of the denouement. That's okay in a short story, since a short is a window into a segment of a full story, but not okay in anything novella or longer where you generally need to be hitting all the stops to avoid leaving readers unsatisfied. Unsatisfied readers don't buy sequels.
I think the rule of thumb I heard was "Don't try anything horribly experimental until you have sold your 100,000th book." Breaking during the climax and removing the denouement completely falls in the "experimental" category.

Guard Dog
November 26th, 2018, 05:17 PM
It robs you of the denouement. That's okay in a short story, since a short is a window into a segment of a full story, but not okay in anything novella or longer where you generally need to be hitting all the stops to avoid leaving readers unsatisfied. Unsatisfied readers don't buy sequels.
I think the rule of thumb I heard was "Don't try anything horribly experimental until you have sold your 100,000th book." Breaking during the climax and removing the denouement completely falls in the "experimental" category.


This would be the very last of that particular story. One that's probably going to take quite a few books to finish anyway. So the readers would have to buy multiple novels to get that far in the first place. ( This is if I were to ever decide to publish it, btw. )

And my thinking was/is that it leaves an opening to continue with these characters in another, different, story due to the antagonists being defeated, but being left 2 different options to re-group, as well as 2 separate motivations and goals in doing so.

They would be beaten. Thoroughly. They just wouldn't be completely exterminated.
It just wouldn't be a case of "And they all lived happily ever after" for the protagonists. At least not for long.

If I were to start another story afterwards, you'd find out which way the MC went... what he chose to do.



G.D.

Dluuni
November 26th, 2018, 05:26 PM
Get Book 1 on paper, structured, rewritten to keep the pacing tight, and published with Book 2 deep into the edit process long before you worry about being experimental in Book 7.

Guard Dog
November 26th, 2018, 06:06 PM
Dluuni, I'm not doing anything until the whole story is on paper, editing along the way, and then re-editing the entire thing once it's finished. Then I'll decide on how many pieces it needs to be cut into, editing again to "clean up the ends", as it were.

And yes, it's all finished in my head, I'm just translating it into written text now.
( And yes, I'm sure a great many people don't believe me. )

I just wondered what people thought of the ending I decided on for it. :icon_cheesygrin:

And for what it's worth, I don't consider the ending anymore experimental than the end of 'STAR WARS: A New Hope'. Less so, in fact.

Because even though the Death Star was gone at the end of that movie, the audience knew the Empire was still there, alive and kickin'. In this case, it won't be, but readers should know it's gonna re-form, but exactly how and where they won't know until J.D. Cerberus chooses a course of action.



G.D.

EmmaSohan
November 27th, 2018, 09:59 PM
How.

In the first Harry Potter story, Harry succeeds only because Hermione and Ron help him. Harry inspires loyalty.

That creates meaning. Maybe there is even morality -- it's good to inspire loyalty in your friends. In the first Star Wars movie, Luke triumphs by using The Force, which fits the theme of the movie. He also triumphs (at least in my perception of the movie) by trusting Obi-Wan Kenobe, or maybe it's trusting himself.

Do you think about how your MC wins? By being clever (Ulysses vs. the Cyclops)? Brave? Persistent (the Little Engine that Could)?

EmmaSohan
November 27th, 2018, 10:16 PM
An analogy, do what you want with it.

In American football, one teams gets the ball and tries to score points, then the other team gets the ball and tries to score points, and it goes back and forth like this until the end, where one team has more points than the other and wins.

And if you listen to sportscasters, they are constantly trying to add meaning. It's one team's chance for revenge from a humiliating defeat. It's the great quarterback versus a great defense. The momentum shifts. A team wins because of good coaching, or having heart.

There's this one author I like a lot, but his endings are kind of like the football game with no one trying to add meaning. I think those endings don't work well for me.

luckyscars
November 28th, 2018, 05:34 AM
I disagree, and for exactly the reasons that you give here. Yes, you have their money. But, will you have their money when you put out your next novel? Much of the sales that you may expect to get are going to be from repeat customers. People who love your writing, and are in a rush to buy your next book as soon as they see it on the shelves. Leaving your readers unsatisfied flies in the face of that.

My point is simply that of all the things in your story the ending should be the least constrained. The least deliberated over. It should be the one time in the story where you kind of follow your gut and understand that if the reader made it this far there's probably not much you can do decision-wise that will affect their opinion of your work.

But that's not the same as saying "write crappy and it doesn't matter". Due competence is, or should be, a given and it's annoying how we can't seem to get past the obvious. Yes, Virginia, you should always write good. Narrative choice, though, is another thing - that is what I am referring to when I say "you've already got their money": I don't think anybody assesses books completely, or even predominantly, on the ending - do you...??

How many people do you suppose who read and profess to love, say, Lord Of The Rings would say the most enjoyable part of the book was the last chapter? I doubt many. The parts that left a lasting impression came much earlier - by the time I got to the end I would have more or less accepted anything that made sense because I was sufficiently beguiled. The ending, one might imagine, wrote itself but even if it did not then provided it wasn't a totally absurd ending there was NOTHING that Tolkien could have reasonably done besides wiping his bum on the manuscript that would have made it significantly lesser or better a book.

And that's how it should be! There are so many examples of great books with average or even slightly disappointing endings. Did the main intrigue of Jurassic Park lie in its ending? The schmaltz? No. Not for me. It was a good story throughout. The message was clear and well illustrated. I suspect Crichton could have ended it in various ways, with varying degrees of emphasis on any of its themes...as long as none of them went completely against the grain, were too obnoxious, why would it be a big deal? What's it got to do with "future sales"? Bugger all.

As Terry D already mentioned most books do not reach their funzies at the end. The ending is there to... well, end. It does not have to serve up some fantastic reveal. it does not have to tease a sequel. It does not have to be anything. If there is something crucially memorable or important in the ending itself purely because the story requires it (a twist, for instance) that's of course fine...it's just not necessary. The ending can be a little "huh..." and the story can still knock socks off. Hence why guys like Stephen Friggin' King can still be justifiably recognized as storytelling gods even though the endings to several of their "bestsellers" tend to have the consistency of a bowl of clam chowder dumped in a bathtub.

Mainly it's just not worth navel gazing over.

EmmaSohan
November 30th, 2018, 09:48 PM
M

And that's how it should be! There are so many examples of great books with average or even slightly disappointing endings. Did the main intrigue of Jurassic Park lie in its ending? The schmaltz? No. Not for me. It was a good story throughout. The message was clear and well illustrated. I suspect Crichton could have ended it in various ways, with varying degrees of emphasis on any of its themes...as long as none of them went completely against the grain, were too obnoxious, why would it be a big deal? What's it got to do with "future sales"? Bugger all.

Crichton presents a conflict (will everyone die?), escalates (the dinosaurs are escaping to the mainland), makes it look like success is unlikely, then has a happy climactic ending. I'm guessing a lot of readers experience a lot of tension then resolution. Upon second reading, I also thought the ending was the weakest part of the book.

I'm not sure he follows any of my suggestions. The closest person to hero is the paleontologist, and he is left out of the solution, he's in the periphery and needs saving. The oracle/wise man does not contribute. Chrichton knows how to prep a scene (the spitting dinosaur scene seems brilliant), but I don't see any prep for the ending. The story has a lot of potential meanings, but I don't see Crichton leaning into any of them in the climactic ending.

(I have not seen the movie, I am talking about the book.)

Terry D
November 30th, 2018, 10:43 PM
Crichton presents a conflict (will everyone die?), escalates (the dinosaurs are escaping to the mainland), makes it look like success is unlikely, then has a happy climactic ending. I'm guessing a lot of readers experience a lot of tension then resolution. Upon second reading, I also thought the ending was the weakest part of the book.

I'm not sure he follows any of my suggestions. The closest person to hero is the paleontologist, and he is left out of the solution, he's in the periphery and needs saving. The oracle/wise man does not contribute. Chrichton knows how to prep a scene (the spitting dinosaur scene seems brilliant), but I don't see any prep for the ending. The story has a lot of potential meanings, but I don't see Crichton leaning into any of them in the climactic ending.

(I have not seen the movie, I am talking about the book.)

Sooo... what are you talking about? The book's climax, or its ending (denouement)? Your phrase 'climactic ending' isn't a real thing. I don't know of any books which end at the moment of peak tension, which your phrase implies. Most folks replying here are writing about the climax, the point in the story where the tale's primary conflict is resolved, for better or worse. A writer's main concern when writing that penultimate scene (the denouement is the final scene, or scenes) is making it satisfying for the reader. As has been stated before in this thread, that's not always easy to do. We can't give all of our readers everything they want. Each reader experiences a story in their own way and we have little control over that, likewise, they each have their own wants and expectations for how the story will be resolved. Again, that's out of the writer's control. All we can do is try our best to give them a resolution which is consistent with the story, and which doesn't make them feel like reading the rest of the book was a waste of time. If we are lucky, maybe we can craft a climax which really hits the spot with most of our readers.

I've found that many very good books, even great ones, don't have a climax that 'blow my doors off'. Most of them, however, do have a resolution which satisfies. Not that any of this means we shouldn't strive to 'blow our reader's doors off', just that each book is so unique that there is no way of creating a formula for how to do it. It's possible to write a book without a climax, without a satisfying resolution, but it is very risky to do so.

My list for what my story climaxes must do looks like this (these are mine alone and not intended as gospel, or instruction):

1. Make it logical -- the ending must be a natural extension of the story and characters.

2. Let my reader's help -- I don't have to lead my readers by the hand through the climax. I can count on them to remember what has come before and what the strengths and flaws of my characters are. It's easy to try and spell out too much, diluting a scene which should move quickly and with power.

3. Forget about the reader -- I know this sounds contrary to what I just wrote, but when I'm writing that climax I don't want to be thinking about what my readers expect. I know the story better than anyone, so I want that scene to be something that works for me. If I can surprise myself, all the better, I know my readers will be surprised (within reason, within the logic of the story. No deus ex machina here).

ArrowInTheBowOfTheLord
December 1st, 2018, 02:00 AM
@EmmaSohan I like the football analogy. And I think I would add that someone who describes the purely physical facts of football isn't telling the whole story, just like someone who writes a climax that way isn't telling the whole story. There are always other things going on in fiction other than the purely physical actions--there are themes, emotions, morality, etc.--and a good climax shows that. Meaning isn't a thing you slap onto a story after the fact; it's something that arises naturally from the characters and events. A story means itself.

luckyscars
December 1st, 2018, 04:00 AM
Upon second reading, I also thought the ending was the weakest part of the book.

So you thought the ending was a disappointment but enjoyed the book? Absolutely agree!.That is kind of my only real point here - that it doesn't matter terribly much in the greater context of a story.

You know what's funny? Historically speaking nobody obsesses over endings with any other narrative art form. I mean, nobody quotes the last scene of Hamlet or thinks that the last movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony is the best. The "ending" of Dante's Divine Comedy concerns the protagonist going to heaven, meeting God and achieving understanding and it's a complete snooze compared to the middle-part where he's in hell getting tortured by demons.

I blame movies. Hollywood particularly. The notion that the ending has to consist of some profound point - a "climax". Sometimes it does, sure. In Romeo & Juliet the ending is pretty climactic. The ending of Dickens' A Christmas Carol isn't quite a climax per say, but there is a certain exhilaration there. One that could be described as a release of sorts...

For the most part, though, the expectation that the ending of a story needs to be BIG and/or contain some validation of the preceding text has no basis in anything other than M. Night Shyamalan.


3. Forget about the reader -- I know this sounds contrary to what I just wrote, but when I'm writing that climax I don't want to be thinking about what my readers expect. I know the story better than anyone, so I want that scene to be something that works for me. If I can surprise myself, all the better, I know my readers will be surprised (within reason, within the logic of the story. No deus ex machina here).

I think this is really important.

I always think of the ending of a novel to be a kind of personal reward, the part meant for me and (within reason) me alone. The fact it does not have to fit with any subsequent scenes nor will affect the reader's immediate decision making as to whether they will continue to read...is very liberating.

When writing I constantly debate the preceding narrative and consider it through the eyes of the imagined reader and their expectations, and I think that is important. {art of what makes the second-guessing and self-auditing of "my story" so easy to do is knowing I will have that handful of pages at the end where I can let go.

Kyle R
December 3rd, 2018, 05:49 PM
I think of the climax of the story as the highest point of tension and conflict. Whatever the main struggle has been, the climax brings it to a point where the consequences of failure are the highest they can possibly be.

It's the payoff scene (or sequence) that the story has been promising to the reader from the beginning (or at least from the moment that the main conflict presented itself).

To me, it's one of the most important parts of the story, if not the most important part.

As for the denouement, I feel there's only one reasonable way to do it: by tying off all the loose threads that've been left dangling. Ideally in a satisfying way. Unless, of course, the author wants to intentionally leave some things unresolved. :read:

EmmaSohan
December 3rd, 2018, 07:54 PM
Is "clilmax" is the whole final scene or the final moment in the scene where the conflict is resolved? The definition seems ambiguous.

Terry D
December 3rd, 2018, 08:16 PM
The whole scene.

Dluuni
December 3rd, 2018, 09:52 PM
OK, I have been seeing this, and it's bugging me.

The climax is NOT the ending.

The climax is the part where everything comes together in a riot of action and activity to resolve the tension you have built up over the book.

The denouement is the part AFTER the climax. You aren't "resolving threads" here; that's what the climax was for. The denouement is the part where you say "Is everybody okay? I kind of lost track of things during the explosions.. Yay, the cute dog lived!" It is the part where everybody grabs their bags and steps back outside into the normal world. You NEED it, so that the readers can resolve the tension from the book, but that's what it does. It's not just a useless tail, it's the prestige of the act, and it's separate from the climax.

luckyscars
December 3rd, 2018, 10:17 PM
OK, I have been seeing this, and it's bugging me.

The climax is NOT the ending.

The climax is the part where everything comes together in a riot of action and activity to resolve the tension you have built up over the book.

The denouement is the part AFTER the climax. You aren't "resolving threads" here; that's what the climax was for. The denouement is the part where you say "Is everybody okay? I kind of lost track of things during the explosions.. Yay, the cute dog lived!" It is the part where everybody grabs their bags and steps back outside into the normal world. You NEED it, so that the readers can resolve the tension from the book, but that's what it does. It's not just a useless tail, it's the prestige of the act, and it's separate from the climax.

I think there is probably a disconnect on the word “resolving”.

Your example alone, which I realize you meant flippantly, about the cute dog living is absolutely a resolution....

Maybe it’s not a major one (or maybe it is) but if there is uncertainty about the dog’s fate and the denouement is where it is revealed the dog lived that is about resolution in every sense of the word. What else would you call it?

You even, with seemingly no irony at all, state yourself: “You NEED [denouement] so that the readers can resolve the tension from the book”.

See it? The word “resolve”? Used by you to describe what takes place in denouement? That you yourself used this word “resolve” while simultaneously trying to argue all of the resolving of threads is in the climax? Yes...So denouement is about friggin’ resolution then,isn’t it?

Different things get resolved in denouement than in climax. Climax is the orgasm, the resolution of tension etc, denouement is the process of sharing a cigarette afterwards and deciding (resolving) what the status of the long term relationship is going to be. Different issues are “resolved” in different ways at both points. It’s not a problem to say both fulfil a similar purpose.

Kyle R
December 4th, 2018, 12:56 AM
Yup! One simple way of looking at it:

The climax resolves the main story conflict.

The denouement resolves (or intentionally doesn't​ resolve) everything else. :encouragement:

NicaNieves
December 4th, 2018, 01:26 AM
I don't like an ending that is expected. I respect a writer who gives their writers what they need, not what they want. And sometimes I love the opposite. But honestly, if a book is well written and doesn't completely suck then I have no issue with it.

luckyscars
December 4th, 2018, 02:54 AM
I respect a writer who gives their writers what they need, not what they want.

In the context of fiction what is the difference between what a reader wants and what a reader needs? And how do you know?

Terry D
December 4th, 2018, 03:05 PM
In the context of fiction what is the difference between what a reader wants and what a reader needs? And how do you know?

I think a more accurate way of phrasing what NicaNieves was saying is the difference between what the reader expects, and what the story needs -- but I might be misinterpreting the intent.

bdcharles
December 4th, 2018, 03:55 PM
Sooner or later, you have to write a climactic ending. Luke Skywalker destroying the Death Star. Dorothy killing the wicked witch. James Bond saving the world (again).

What do you like to put in your endings? What do you like or not like in the endings you read (or see?)?

I have about four things I want to suggest, and there's some standard answers too, but I think there's maybe a lot of possible answers to this so-important question.

Physically I like to invoke alot of sensory stuff in my endings - sight, sound, speed, a sense of motion. Emotionally there must be alot of trauma.

ned
December 9th, 2018, 07:02 PM
there seems to be a confusion here, between the climax and the resolution -

Bond kills the villain - but is later damned with faint praise for being unconventional.
Dorothy kills the witch - but then goes home where she better appreciates her family and friends.

that's the trick.....

Moonbeast32
December 9th, 2018, 09:32 PM
I like it when books give you a clear idea of where the climax will take place, but gives you no clue as ti why that place or time is important, and what exactly will hapen there. I've been binging Robert Jordan as of late, and I've noticed he employs that technique in most of his books.

EmmaSohan
December 14th, 2018, 02:47 AM
I wanted to add one more idea, though now don't know how to say it. In the first Star Wars movie, everything is going according to plan, then he turns off the automatic targeting and instead decides to go with the force. That's an amazing moment.

It's not the climactic moment (destroying the Death Star), it comes before. The usually trope is that at the last second something goes wrong with the plan, but this is completely the opposite. I don't know what viewers make of Luke's strategy -- it increases the chance of succeeding? Decreases?

If I return to my sportscaster trying to turn the football game into a "story", it's kind of like finding a turning point. They idea is to look if your ending has one of these, or could usually have one. It adds structure.

In one of of my stories, they go back and forth in their battle with the witch, then


... the witch's eyes widened in fright and

she panicked.

There's still a struggle, but that was like the turning point, and I gave it a lot of weight.

Terry D
December 14th, 2018, 03:28 PM
I wanted to add one more idea, though now don't know how to say it. In the first Star Wars movie, everything is going according to plan, then he turns off the automatic targeting and instead decides to go with the force. That's an amazing moment.

It's not the climactic moment (destroying the Death Star), it comes before. The usually trope is that at the last second something goes wrong with the plan, but this is completely the opposite. I don't know what viewers make of Luke's strategy -- it increases the chance of succeeding? Decreases?

If I return to my sportscaster trying to turn the football game into a "story", it's kind of like finding a turning point. They idea is to look if your ending has one of these, or could usually have one. It adds structure.

In one of of my stories, they go back and forth in their battle with the witch, then



There's still a struggle, but that was like the turning point, and I gave it a lot of weight.

But something has gone wrong with the plan. Luke's first attempt to bomb the vent using the targeting computer failed. He only has one chance left (which increases the tension) and in that moment he truly accepts the force and chooses to trust in it. That's the basic change that Luke goes through on his journey. It could be argued that that moment is the story's true climax, everything else is just window dressing.

moderan
December 14th, 2018, 06:45 PM
I'm still waiting to see the 'advanced' part of this discussion.

EmmaSohan
December 15th, 2018, 09:32 PM
But something has gone wrong with the plan. Luke's first attempt to bomb the vent using the targeting computer failed. He only has one chance left (which increases the tension) and in that moment he truly accepts the force and chooses to trust in it. That's the basic change that Luke goes through on his journey. It could be argued that that moment is the story's true climax, everything else is just window dressing.

Right. Think about this. The Death Star can destroy entire planets, it's in the hands of evil people, and Luke is the last chance to destroy it and he's down to his last shot. And he destroys the Death Star! And that might be just window dressing?

Terry points out that a moment before that could be argued to be the true climax. I don't know what to call it or why it works. But it's a great moment.

There must be other stories that do this, right? A moment of change. Awareness. Some shift in momentum. Some stories don't have the potential, I know. It's just something to look for. I imagine James Bond, about to die, and we hear him say to himself, "Q, I owe you a drink." Then he uses the weapon Q gave him.

Kyle R
December 15th, 2018, 10:01 PM
Terry points out that a moment before that could be argued to be the true climax. I don't know what to call it or why it works. But it's a great moment.

There must be other stories that do this, right? A moment of change. Awareness. Some shift in momentum.
Romantic Comedies do this all the time: the protagonist comes to a realization that the love interest is who they've wanted/needed all along.

What follows afterward (the standard "race to the airport" scene, which is usually followed by a public declaration of love, which is then followed by a big swoony kiss) is just the story's reward for the character learning their lesson.

Just like the Death Star exploding is Luke's reward for learning to trust in the Force.

The climactic moment is usually where the protagonists dig down deep inside themselves to make a choice that they would've never made until now. After that, it's just a matter of seeing how the story rewards (or punishes) their choice. :encouragement:

In the film The Wrestler, the story ends at the climactic moment. The protagonist has to make a choice: choose wrestling, or choose love. He makes his choice and the movie ends without showing what happens next, leaving it up to the viewers to decide whether or not he made the right choice.

EmmaSohan
December 15th, 2018, 10:32 PM
I like it when books give you a clear idea of where the climax will take place, but gives you no clue as ti why that place or time is important, and what exactly will hapen there. I've been binging Robert Jordan as of late, and I've noticed he employs that technique in most of his books.

Example? This sounds interesting

EmmaSohan
December 17th, 2018, 05:40 PM
Luke is trying to destroy the Death Star. As I remember it, enemy fighter jets are on his tail, set to stop or destroy him. Then someone from his side appears, shoots down the enemy fighters, and Luke goes forward.

That, as far as I know, is normal for a climactic scene: Some (unexpected) obstacle, thwarting the plan, something the MC has to overcome. In my opinion, putting one of those into the climactic scene is good writing. Three of them and I will start to lose interest.

And it would have been a forgettable part of the movie except Hans Solo came back to shot down the enemy fighter jet. We were told he wasn't helping. I fell for that. They set that up wonderfully -- early on Hans talks about just being for himself. I was disappointed when he didn't help; I thought he was better than that.

I would rank that as one of the best moments in the climactic scene, even better than the actual destruction of the Death Star.

So, what if the best moment in your final climactic scene shouldn't be the final victory? I actually don't think that's always true, it depends on the scene and the final victory. And everything wants different things. But anyone can do victory. There can be more.

luckyscars
December 18th, 2018, 05:06 AM
So, what if the best moment in your final climactic scene shouldn't be the final victory? I actually don't think that's always true, it depends on the scene and the final victory. And everything wants different things. But anyone can do victory. There can be more.

I was thinking of the movie Independence Day, when they use the virus to take down the shields culminating in a climactic victory over the spaceship only to then cut to the mother ship where Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum are trapped. The moment where they escape just in time before the nuclear warhead goes off is the final victory, and definitely climactic in a sense, but it still felt like a kind of post script. At that point we knew how this was going to go and had already seen the aliens basically wiped out.

But...to bring it back to writing, I'm not sure this kind of double-up really translates to many good books. I don't think I have ever read anything good that consisted of two similar kinds of victory one after another. Sometimes you will have the big picture climax - the army victorious - separated from the personal climax - one sniper taking out another - but its not common.

Kyle R
December 18th, 2018, 05:15 PM
Some (unexpected) obstacle, thwarting the plan, something the MC has to overcome. In my opinion, putting one of those into the climactic scene is good writing.

Fixed below:


Some (unexpected) obstacle, thwarting the plan, something the MC has to overcome. Putting one of those into every possible scene is good writing.

:encouragement:

(Of course, you'll want to vary the intensity and nature of the obstacles so things don't get repetitive. Sometimes they're physical. Sometimes they're emotional. Sometimes they're related to logistics. Sometimes they're literal life or death . . .)

DarkGhost
December 27th, 2018, 07:54 AM
a great climax for a movie is Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, high stakes? Check! Showdown between MC and baddie? Check! Do other Characters get their own share of the action? Check! Expectation subversion? Check! (If you're wondering what I'm talking about, it's when Lane gets locked in the box with the entire IMF just standing and watching.)

To me there has to be something different about the climax. Just one thing, big or little could mean the difference of a great climax, or a crappy one.

badgerjelly
September 18th, 2019, 07:30 AM
I can only say that once I’ve read something I want to feel a sense of loss, a sense of gain and a sense of possibilities.

In a sense of loss I mean that I feel sad the story has come to an end and that reading the story again will not hit me again with the same impact. In a sense of gain I mean that I feel imbued with a new perspective, line of questioning and/or knowledge, I hadn’t really focused on properly beforehand. In sense of possibilities I mean that I wish to be able to imagine what happens after the story has ended, to mull over possibilities, both as an explanation of the over all narrative and as contemplation of unseen actions (both prior to and after the narrative itself).

I don’t like stories where ‘things return to normal’ (what’s the point?). I don’t like narratives where any of the characters don’t end up altered by the end. I don’t like endings that rely mostly on cliffhangers rather than bothering to offer some sense of finality. I don’t like stories that have no actual idea encapsulated in ending - meaning where arbitrary rewards/punishments are dished out without any serious thought put into the psychology or ethical make-up of the narrative.

Happy or sad ending? I don’t care which and I don’t think it should matter which because if the above issues are addressed the ending should work well enough.

It does help if the author thinks about how the finale is gradually built up. Most importantly often the finale is oversold and leaves the reader disappointed. If you can’t walk the walk don’t talk the talk!

Theglasshouse
September 18th, 2019, 04:42 PM
I like this discussion and got something different out of it. To me the climax is important because its about the reader's expectations. Which some people have already posted their unique take on what a climax can have emotionally in some cases. A recovery of some sort from a emotional loss as mentioned is what I conceive from it. A reversal of the situation at the beginning of the story. A positive change in the status quo. I tried something experimental in my most recent one I wrote but with a character. Which is usually seen in literary stories which was a confession or an epiphany from a character. It was something James Joyce added for characterization in his stories. It came from his religious influences in Ireland. I don't know but it turned out to be a monologue that was somewhat philosophical. I wrote it suing some famous director's bibliographical statements merged with a singer's statements about the frustrations they felt in life. It is practice but I assume I did finish it with that climax. There was nothing more to add and the story is the finished product of someone frustrated (the villain).

EmmaSohan
September 28th, 2019, 03:37 PM
I can only say that once I’ve read something I want to feel a sense of loss, a sense of gain and a sense of possibilities.

In a sense of loss I mean that I feel sad the story has come to an end and that reading the story again will not hit me again with the same impact. In a sense of gain I mean that I feel imbued with a new perspective, line of questioning and/or knowledge, I hadn’t really focused on properly beforehand. In sense of possibilities I mean that I wish to be able to imagine what happens after the story has ended, to mull over possibilities, both as an explanation of the over all narrative and as contemplation of unseen actions (both prior to and after the narrative itself).

I don’t like stories where ‘things return to normal’ (what’s the point?). I don’t like narratives where any of the characters don’t end up altered by the end. I don’t like endings that rely mostly on cliffhangers rather than bothering to offer some sense of finality. I don’t like stories that have no actual idea encapsulated in ending - meaning where arbitrary rewards/punishments are dished out without any serious thought put into the psychology or ethical make-up of the narrative.

Happy or sad ending? I don’t care which and I don’t think it should matter which because if the above issues are addressed the ending should work well enough.

It does help if the author thinks about how the finale is gradually built up. Most importantly often the finale is oversold and leaves the reader disappointed. If you can’t walk the walk don’t talk the talk!

Sense of loss could be circular -- it could be seen as advice to write a good book. I realized, after thinking about your post, that could mean more. Explain?

Gain is a really nice idea.

So is, "I wish to be able to imagine what happens after the story." Obviously that could be explicit (they lived happily ever after) or tying up loose ends. But, after reading your comment, I could also see somewhat subtle indications. At the end of one of my books, the young child helps her mother, in a small but important way. Since she spent most of the book just being selfish, in a normal young-child way, it pointed to a better life for her mother.

Thanks.

J.T. Chris
September 28th, 2019, 09:33 PM
I am terrible with endings. Nothing ever seems to wrap-up neatly for me.

EmmaSohan
September 29th, 2019, 05:34 PM
I am terrible with endings. Nothing ever seems to wrap-up neatly for me.

Why? What do you mean? Example?

I mean, most writers know exactly what issues they have created. So they wrap them up. Or decide it's okay not to.

I suggested that the ending use elements from the story. If an author, trying to make success seem impossible, actually makes it impossible, then the author has to invent some new element. I suggested in this thread, and everyone kind of agrees, that isn't a satisfying ending.

But I'm just guessing at what you mean.

SueC
September 30th, 2019, 04:05 PM
This is weird. I came here this morning because I have a slight dilemma on how to end my current project, and here comes this discussion about climactic endings already in place. Wow!

Anyway, in the beginning of the book, Declan Ahern moves into an apartment building on the north side of Chicago, where Maggie O'Connor has lived for most of her adult life (both are seniors). They meet, with Declan giving Maggie a fake name, become very close, and spend a lot of time together. He never tells Maggie where he is from, or why he is in Chicago.

One night, as Maggie makes her way to Declan's apartment with her favorite chicken casserole for dinner, she finds that Declan has vanished, leaving no word as to where he has gone. There are vegetables boiling away on his stove, so it was a hasty retreat. Maggie is devastated and spends a lot of time over the next couple of years trying to find Declan, and what happened to him. During that time, she learns his real name and that he came from Kilkenny, Ireland. By then she tries to convince herself that she no longer cares about him, but that is far from the truth.

In the second half of the book, Maggie finds out that she was adopted as a child, and her biological father just happens to live in the same town that Declan is from, Kilkenny. She travels to Ireland and finds her bio dad gravely ill and in a coma. As it turns out, Declan's family is close friends to Maggie's real father, and that's how I've set the stage for them to be reunited.

Here's my dilemma: The goal of the book has always been to bring Maggie and Declan back together, and I'm eager to hear opinions on which would work better. Maggie has traveled to Ireland with her aunt who had written to Declan's father that they were coming to see Maggie's father, in the hospital. So Declan reads the letters and knows that Maggie's aunt (someone he knows from his time in Chicago) is coming to Kilkenny, but doesn't know that Maggie is with her.

Should Maggie see Declan coming down the hall first? Or would it be more effective if Declan simply shows up in the hospital room, taking Maggie by surprise?

I know this description is bare-bones; obviously, there is much more to the story, but just wanted some thoughts on a proper ending, if you can. Thanks so much!

EmmaSohan
September 30th, 2019, 11:56 PM
Declan disappears in the middle of making vegetables. That's a mystery to drive your reader through the rest of the book, but you don't mention how that is resolved. So I think I am missing information. Being general . . .

The standard is to have a lot of close calls. Do you do that?

It would be nice if she found him through persistence, or being clever, or having some special connection. If you make it just a coincidence, that doesn't give your ending a lot of meaning.

In The Opposite of Everyone, the MC finally finds her half sister, and the ending scene is them meeting. Will her half-sister like her? Yes is the answer, but the interesting thing is how/why. And the author started setting that up at page 1. In other words, if you can think of a really interesting ending, you can them reverse-engineer your book for that ending to make sense.

For example, if they accidentally meet, it's awkward, and they are going to separate, she can reverse that with something from the first half of your book. If the relationship originally failed because she was shy, or prejudiced, she could have learned to get beyond that. There are lots of possibilities. If he left something more solid than vegetables, she could return it.

Rojack79
October 19th, 2019, 06:34 PM
For me it was the ending that helped start my current WIP. It was engaging, climactic, and it helped keep me grounded to the setting. Granted this ending was to a series instead of the first book but that one eventually came to me. Now the hard part begins, getting from start to finish. Currently on chapter 9 of the outline and so far everything is going according to plan.

J.T. Chris
October 21st, 2019, 12:07 AM
Why? What do you mean? Example?

I mean, most writers know exactly what issues they have created. So they wrap them up. Or decide it's okay not to.

I suggested that the ending use elements from the story. If an author, trying to make success seem impossible, actually makes it impossible, then the author has to invent some new element. I suggested in this thread, and everyone kind of agrees, that isn't a satisfying ending.

But I'm just guessing at what you mean.

What I mean is that I have no idea how to end a story so I usually settle on a quick resolution left open for interpretation.

JohnCalliganWrites
October 22nd, 2019, 08:25 PM
Should Maggie see Declan coming down the hall first? Or would it be more effective if Declan simply shows up in the hospital room, taking Maggie by surprise?

I know this description is bare-bones; obviously, there is much more to the story, but just wanted some thoughts on a proper ending, if you can. Thanks so much!

I think seeing him coming might give you more creative liberty, since she has the option to run to him, or walk away, or play it cool or whatever.

For me, the element that makes this scene work the best is if the writer uses a paragraph or two giving exposition from Maggie's perspective on how she feels about him and what she sees, before the action of the scene starts. I feel like a sudden arrival, even if it IS sudden to the main character, will simply jar the reader if it passes too fast on the page. I personally need time to orient myself to it.

That said, if she looks up and he's standing there, the exposition is delivered like time froze. On the other hand, if she sees him coming, the exposition and description is delivered as if she is thinking about what she's going to do, making it feel more natural. By giving her some space when they meet, the author has some space to help orient the reader to what's happening.

That's not to say that a surprise appearance is bad-wrong-fun. I like surprise appearances. I just think that seeing him come will feel better to write and read. After all, it is still a sudden appearance, just down the hall instead of in the door.

Sustrai
October 26th, 2019, 11:47 PM
I'm put in mind of Agatha Christie. What's more climactic than revealing the murderer after a long investigation? "Who dunnit? HE dunnit!" I'm daunted by the prospect of writing murder mysteries. It's almost as though they must be written backward. However, it seems the climax must be written before the rest of the story. The story, of course, leads to the climax. It seems ill-conceived to begin writing a story when one has no idea where it is supposed to lead. Of course, Luke's bombing of the Death Star is one sort of climax. Miss Marple calmly pointing to the butler and saying, "He did it," is quite another. Yet, climaxes they both are. After all, that's how the reader knows the story has reached its destination; its object - the climax.

SueC
November 5th, 2019, 03:35 PM
I think seeing him coming might give you more creative liberty, since she has the option to run to him, or walk away, or play it cool or whatever.

For me, the element that makes this scene work the best is if the writer uses a paragraph or two giving exposition from Maggie's perspective on how she feels about him and what she sees, before the action of the scene starts. I feel like a sudden arrival, even if it IS sudden to the main character, will simply jar the reader if it passes too fast on the page. I personally need time to orient myself to it.

That said, if she looks up and he's standing there, the exposition is delivered like time froze. On the other hand, if she sees him coming, the exposition and description is delivered as if she is thinking about what she's going to do, making it feel more natural. By giving her some space when they meet, the author has some space to help orient the reader to what's happening.

That's not to say that a surprise appearance is bad-wrong-fun. I like surprise appearances. I just think that seeing him come will feel better to write and read. After all, it is still a sudden appearance, just down the hall instead of in the door.

Thanks John! Really helpful, and I'm still working on it. I don't know if you have ever seen the movie, "Sleepless in Seattle," but that ending was just wrong to me. It was as dull ditchwater, and I am working hard to avoid any reader feeling that way when my two lovers meet again. Today is the day - I'm going to dive in and get them moving again. I'll let you know how it works, and thanks again so much for your input. :)

SueC
November 5th, 2019, 03:40 PM
I'm put in mind of Agatha Christie. What's more climactic than revealing the murderer after a long investigation? "Who dunnit? HE dunnit!" I'm daunted by the prospect of writing murder mysteries. It's almost as though they must be written backward. However, it seems the climax must be written before the rest of the story. The story, of course, leads to the climax. It seems ill-conceived to begin writing a story when one has no idea where it is supposed to lead. Of course, Luke's bombing of the Death Star is one sort of climax. Miss Marple calmly pointing to the butler and saying, "He did it," is quite another. Yet, climaxes they both are. After all, that's how the reader knows the story has reached its destination; its object - the climax.

Sustrai,
Thank you so much for your insight. I love Agatha Christie, and that is the type of ending I want, something that comes as a slight surprise, but somehow you knew it would happen. I'm going to try and delay the reunion as long as I can, but not too long. I think the readers would have been hopeful though the book that these two would get back together, but the odds at times seemed long. I want it to be meaningful, even tearful! LOL. You only joined WF this month, Sustrai, but in the past I have revealed that making people cry over my stories is my goal! Ha - we'll see and I'll keep you posted.

SueC
November 5th, 2019, 03:57 PM
Declan disappears in the middle of making vegetables. That's a mystery to drive your reader through the rest of the book, but you don't mention how that is resolved. So I think I am missing information. Being general . . .

The standard is to have a lot of close calls. Do you do that?

It would be nice if she found him through persistence, or being clever, or having some special connection. If you make it just a coincidence, that doesn't give your ending a lot of meaning.

In The Opposite of Everyone, the MC finally finds her half sister, and the ending scene is them meeting. Will her half-sister like her? Yes is the answer, but the interesting thing is how/why. And the author started setting that up at page 1. In other words, if you can think of a really interesting ending, you can them reverse-engineer your book for that ending to make sense.

For example, if they accidentally meet, it's awkward, and they are going to separate, she can reverse that with something from the first half of your book. If the relationship originally failed because she was shy, or prejudiced, she could have learned to get beyond that. There are lots of possibilities. If he left something more solid than vegetables, she could return it.

Thanks, Emma! Yes, you're missing a lot of information here. My character Maggie has spent a ton of time trying to find Declan, or at least who he really is and where he has gone. Initially, Declan was doing a favor for his friend, Manny, who wanted to leave the country and go to Poland on the sly. This fellow asks Declan to move into his apartment in Maggie's building and live there while he is gone. He asks Declan to introduce himself to others as "Manny," so no one knows that he has actually left town. On the night that Maggie is going up for dinner with Declan, before she arrives, the real Manny is brought home from his trip, dead from a heart attack. Manny is placed on Declan's bed, the veggies are forgotten, and Declan leaves via the back stairs. This was all part of a plan. Manny was not a well man, and knew that his days were numbered, but the trip to Poland was personal and important to him. So from the minute of finding a dead body in Declan's apartment, Maggie knows it is not her Manny! She has no luck in convincing the police that the man on the bed in not the person she knew, especially when dna comes back identifying him as Manny. At Christmas, two years later, Declan sends Maggie a Christmas card with nothing more than her apartment key inside and signed "Manny." She's even more convinced that he is alive and well and living in Ireland, but at the time has no resources to find him.

Well, I won't go on, and as you can imagine, there is a lot more to the story, but I so appreciate you comments. I am into it today and hopefully will be inspired enough to get the job done. And yes, there will be a lot of "close calls." I will give you a sample for critique! Thanks again. :)

becwriter
March 23rd, 2020, 11:08 PM
I feel that the end of a novel, including climax and denouement, are just as important as the beginning. The climax should be the culmination of where the plot has been going for the whole story and as such should tie up many loose ends all by itself. I try to escalate the stakes through-out the story and by the time I get to the climax it's for all the marbles. The denouement should cover many of the remaining loose ends but not all of them since you need some hooks left out there for the next book. The bottom line is that the reader must be satisfied with the ending or they're not likely to but more of your books.

Justin Attas
May 31st, 2020, 07:53 PM
Hey there! This is a solid discussion you've stirred up. It's true that the conclusion of a story should be dramatic. But I think it only has to be dramatic in the frame of the story being told. The scale of the climax works in accordance with the type of story you're telling. For instance, my first ebook concludes with a 1-on-1 showdown between the protagonist and the general he's been training to face. The final one ends with an all-out war that rocks the Tower (the setting of the series) and unveils that the world outside does still exist.