As you can tell from my previous posts I’m quite a movie fan. Especially the older ones. There is nothing that I like better than a movie with a good ending. Unfortunately, not all films end well, at least to me.
In the Lord of the Rings-Return of the King, it seemed like there were about four places that it could of ended. Did you see that? The final ending was a little sad but okay. Other movies I’ve seen just seem to stop, like they looked at a clock and said, “Oh it’s five. We’re done.”
Call me a romantic, but I like films where the final few scenes give you a proper conclusion and yeah, like I like a happy(ish) ending. Dave is one of my favorite movies for that reason.
I also like shows that start out with kind of iffy characters and by the end they’ve proven themselves and are much better for the experience. One my favorite movies that demonstrates that was “Maid to Order.” Actress Ally Sheedy plays a spoiled heiress whose fairy godmother takes the good life away from her, forcing her to become a maid. As she learns to live in the real world she begins to change and the story ends in a fun, sweet way.
When you’re writing it is difficult to know when to stop sometimes. If you are planning a sequel you want to leave enough questions to keep your readers wanting more but at the same time have your work stand on its own. There are external constraints of course, some fiction publishers have a limit of words they want to read, sometimes not more than 100,000 words. With the costs associated with getting a book to print you can see why they’ve been more on the cautious side. Even some ebooks publishers have preferred lengths of work. Almost all agents and publishers now want queries by email and have on line forms to use to submit your requests, just check their websites for details.
I guess the important thing about ending your story is did you tell the story. Sometimes just having a long book isn’t enough if the story wasn’t told in a compelling way.
Occasionally I use an epilog because I kind of like to tell a little about how things turned out. You might be satisfied with how your book ended, i.e. everyone rode off into the sunset happily or they survived the end of the world, but maybe you can see “down the road” and want to say just a little about what they found when they got to that future place. There was an old commentator on the radio who used to say “And now for the rest of the story.” I always think of an epilog as sort of that.
How ever you come to the end of your work, reread it as if you were reading for the first time and see if you like how you finished. If you’re satisfied, you’re done.