I hardly ever remember endings . . . of books, movies, football games (at least those in which my home team is not involved).
I want to write endings that will be remembered. Hopefully for their twists and satisfying conclusions. "Job well done, Peg Brantley" is what I want to hear.
But I've read one or two (if only it could be so few) books where the ending just didn't work.
The following is taken from The Elements of Mystery Fiction by William G. Tapply.
Climactic resolutions to avoid:
1. Deus ex machina. This is where the meddling god (police/cavalry) swoops in to save the day. Other examples in this not to be believed divine intervention would include the lucky shot or bolt of lightning. Easy to write, hard for the reader to swallow.
2. The suddenly invincible hero or heroine. This is the "where did they learn to fly like that?" syndrome. The antagonist you've created is resourceful and desperate. But suddenly, the protagonist has a skill set, specific to saving the day, never before divulged.
3. The suddenly fallible villain. The antagonist who has eluded every force suddenly stumbles, allowing for capture. Puh-lease.
4. The conversion of the villain. At the critical confrontation, the antagonist who has murdered in cold blood, and may be threatening thousands, says, "Yep. You've got me. Take me in." Redemption is nice, but unless you've written this character to be morally complex and tortured, this is just too easy.
Writing effective and believable climactic scenes requires all of your creativity. There is no formula. Your story's resolution must follow logically from the strengths and abilities and personalities of the characters and from the events that have come before. And yet it must not seem preordained.
I want to write killer endings, not easy endings. There needs to be believable resolution, with some creativity kicked in.
I love this adventure of writing . . .
Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don't recognize them. ~Ann Landers
CR: Night Kills by John Lutz. Man, is this a good book.
It's all better with friends.