I dread endings because I never know what to expect. I’ve read a few (even from my favorite authors) that bothered me because I didn’t like the last thought, action, or phrase of the character – it was supposed to be more inspiring, more romantic … just more.
We’ve already discussed the lack of concrete guidelines for a good ending, so there’s no reason to rehash that. Instead, I’d like to teach by example. Here are some of my favorite endings (they very end – just the last few paragraphs). They wrap things up. They give me hope. They make me want to know more, but leave me feeling content that I know enough. Enjoy!
The English Major by Jim Harrison
She finally drove away and I proceeded on to the spring with Lothar beating me there and muddying up the water in a frantic search for a frog to eat. I took off my clothes and sat down in the cool water, sipping at my schnapps and looking up at the way the sun dappled down through the beech and sugar-maple leaves. This won’t be a bad life I thought happily. What there is left of it is undetermined but I’ll do fine.
In Too Deep by Mary Connealy (a great example of leaving a bit of mystery for the next book in the series while also tying up the loose ends)
[Ethan] kissed [Audra] again and this time she held on tight. When he paused to take a breath, Audra asked, “So where in the world do you think Wendell hid all that money?”
“I don’t want to hear another word about your first husband while you’re in bed with me, is that understood?”
“I’m happy right where I am. And thinking about nothing except how much I love the man I married.”
“I was wondering when you were going to say it back.”
The world spun away as Ethan puller her too close for her to have a single thought in her head – except for loving him completely, passionately, deeply.
There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones
This Christmas Beckett and I will return to Ireland, to visit some of his mother’s relatives and to put flowers on Mrs. Sweeney’s grave. Which is right by her son’s.
The woman who taught me to let go. Let God in. And mend.
To let love fly like a kite in the clouds, untethered by darkness and hurt.
Four years ago my brother Will died, and my world crumbled into a million tiny fragments.
Two years ago I went to Ireland.
I met an arrogant vampire, an angry old woman, and a mischievous nun.
And I met God.
Who slowly, painfully, divinely pieced me back together.
A huge gale blows across the commons. “Hold on to it, Finley.” Beckett reaches for my string.
But it’s too late.
I let it go.