When I started to write my science fiction Meniscus Series, I had no idea where it would take me. All I knew was, the first story was there in my head, waiting to be told. Now I have four books published in the Series and five more planned. I have had to think about how I would end each book. I want each book to stand alone and yet I also want to segue into the next book. I also want the read to be satisfying and somewhat unexpected.
Meniscus: Crossing The Churn (here)
Meniscus: South from Sintha (here)
Meniscus: Winter by the Water-climb (here)
Meniscus: The Village at Themble Hill (coming April 14, 2018)
Meniscus: Karst Topography (coming in 2018)
Meniscus: Encounter with the Emenpod (coming in 2018)
Meniscus: Journey to Bleth (coming in 2019)
Meniscus: Oral Traditions (coming in 2019)
Perhaps the most significant characteristic of endings has to do with outcome.
Do characters reach their destination or not?
Do they find the object of their quest or are they unsuccessful?
Beyond this, endings have other characteristics. Endings can be:
happy or sad
surprising or expected
exciting (active) or subdued (passive)
fated or governed by free-will
triumphant or disastrous
concluding or beginning
optimistic or pessimistic
encouraging or disappointing
With eight variables, there are many possible combinations. I did a quick analysis of my stories Meniscus: Crossing the Churn (blue dots) and Meniscus: Karst Topography (red dots). The endings are quite different, although they have commonalities. I have put in bold the characteristics of endings I usually prefer in stories.
A book in a series may demand a different set of endings than a self-contained, stand-alone story. An ending that suggests a new beginning will make a reader read the next book to discover what happens next. A disastrous ending will entice a reader to find out how the disaster is dealt with in the next book.
Not too long ago, I had a discussion with a reader who said the best endings are unexpected, but not necessarily related to the main objective, quest or destination. The ending returns instead to something contained in the story that seems unconnected to the success of the mission or the eventual fate of the characters.
A simple example:
A woman, whose husband is killed in an explosion, tries to rebuild her life. She searches for a man who will make her happy and after several failures, she finds him. The story ends at the wedding when she sees a man among the visitors who looks just like her first husband.
The ending is, of course, is not independent of the story. Moreover, stories have a way of writing themselves, situation leading to situation until a conclusion is reached.
When you finish writing your story, you have not reached the end. Now comes the editing! The ending of your story deserves a little analysis. Considering the ending with respect to the characteristics above may help you with the process.
All the best in your writing!