For the past few weeks I have been struggling to find a satisfactory ending for a new novel.
I know many writers find those final few pages especially tough. We know how the story end of course, but how to pen those final lines in a way that feels just right?
I suspect much of that is down to writers being naturally verbose and not wishing to leave their characters behind. Often there is a lot more to say that does not really belong in that story. Whatever the reason that last page has simply eluded me for a while.
Being a first crime novel in a planned series it needed the big finish, and much tying of ends. So how do other writers do it? I have watching a lot of TV crime over the past few weeks with endings being of special interest, and saw how they all end in surprisingly similar ways.
The detective team will gather in the squad room/office for a basic wrapping up of events for the benefit of the viewer. Occasionally the action will cut away at the moment of arrest. In others the detective/sleuth is seen looking pensive before turning to walk away to strains of melancholy music.
The closing scene reflects the overall feel, and regardless of being part of a team or a lone crusader, will raise anticipation for a reprise. All of which also applies to the novel.
I picked a dozen crime novels from the shelf to read the final chapters and all without exception used the same tropes. Perhaps that is the nature of the beast that readers and viewers are given both a sense of finality and also a sense of continuity.
So has my analysis of other writers helped me in the search for an ending? I believe it has.
Opening lines may lure the reader into following your fictional world but those final lines will be the flavour that stays with them. Our fictional endings need to be as memorable as the start whether a stand alone tale or part of a series. And I do have plans for my sleuth beyond this first investigation!
‘Winter Downs’ is scheduled for publication in spring 2016