This month’s post will be about how I work to wrap up my novels. Now this can differ from one author to another, and that does not mean one way is better than others - just another the creative process comes alive.
Wrapping up a novel - now what is that? Well, it’s just how it sounds! Wrapping up the story like a present right before you present it to the world. Essentially, when you close the story to the ever approaching ‘The End’ page - or ‘La Fin’ in my case.
Wrapping up a novel also looks differently when it comes to the story itself, for instance, how you would wrap up a stand-alone book compared to a sequel in a series will be completely different.
In the case of a stand-alone book, the author needs to wrap up loose ends and ensure that the story is coming to a close in a perfect manner or as perfect as they want the story to be when the reader finally gets to that final page. As the end of a story can differ from genres, we can never truly expect how a story will end until we finally get to that final page.
A sequel in a series will definitely have some open-ended areas in the last few pages and that’s how it’s supposed to be. Authors need the readers to anticipate ‘What Happens Next’ so that they come back for the next book - and the next and the next.
When it came to The Next Right Thing, I wanted to wrap up the story as best as I could in order to give my characters the closure they needed. It’s what they’ve been fighting for the whole story so its time to learn if they finally got what they were looking for. Did the bad guy pay for his crimes? Did the love interests finally end up together? Did that one mysterious thing finally get resolved? (Can’t way too much now, cause then this post would need SPOILER warnings, and believe me, you wouldn’t want me to spoil such an amazing story!)
Everything comes together in the end, but it can also depend on how the author wants to close off the book as well. Charles Dickens was the first to bring the concept of a ‘cliff-hanger’ to life - by literally ending the book with a character hanging from a cliff - and that left that sense of anticipation. Some authors may want everything to come together nicely, but I like to leave some things to the readers imagination.
Let’s be honest, you can’t please everyone. Not everyone is going to love how you ended off your story or how you left your characters. And, if you’re like me, you’ll have people asking for a sequel even though you never planned on one (but only time will truly tell). So don’t be too discouraged if you can’t for any reason give every single little loose end a nice little bow to tie it into the end of your book. Sometimes, that’s just how things work out. In my own opinion, I love when this happens, because it makes the story feel more unique and, more than that, it makes it feel REAL. The last thing any of us expect from life is for things to end off in a nice and neat little bow. Because, that never really happens. Instead, we are left with moments when stories are left open-ended and without any closure. But, when we look hard enough, we can find the depth of those stories. The way they made us feel and what they taught us along the way.
An open-ended, cliff-hanger, no lose-ends-tied ending isn’t the end of the world. In some cases, it’s the beginning of oh so many. What matters, is that we remember to focus on what we did learn, so that when that inevitable final page is before us, we know what to write, we know what to leave behind as our last parting words.
All the best,