How to Breathe Life into Your Characters Part VIII

How to Breathe Life into Your Characters


Endings: The All Important Stop

Traci Kenworth


Next to your beginning hook, your ending may very well be the most challenging to write. Readers want to be satisfied, to be carried through “the dream” they’ve been exposed to. And, no, I’m not saying here to wake your reader up to an, “It was all a dream,” storyline. What I’m getting at is that the all important stop has to resonate with the reader, to the point of them saying, “Yes, that’s the way it happened.”

In your end, you want to tie up loose knots. That’s not to say if you plan sequels that you have to tighten them all, some can remain unraveled. Even if a single story. For instance, we don’t need to be told a character’s future. We can leave that up to the reader to decide what happens, if they got their “happily-ever-after,” or if things just didn’t work out. How do we do this?

We give a little taste of what is to come. This is your shot, your chance to hook the reader into buying your next book and the one after that. Always leave them hungering for more. So how do you know you put the right ending on? You should feel it down in your bones. That this couldn’t happen any other way. It should capture the joy or sadness of the characters depending on the outcome. It should leave the door open a smidgeon for us to guess what happens next in their lives. If they survive.

Sometimes heroes go down on the job. It doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen. There are times when, no matter which way we look at it, the main character has to give their life in order for others/the world to go on. But along with all the grief, you want to leave the message that their life counted for something. That others will go on because of it.

An ending can make or break us. We can lose readers from a half-hearted effort, we can gain word-of-mouth from a glorious one. So pay as much attention to the ending as you do the beginning. Give us a teaser that will make us want to read more of your books. Good luck with your writing.


5 thoughts on “How to Breathe Life into Your Characters Part VIII

  1. Yes I think that message is the most important thing when the hero dies–there has to be the feeling that it was for something, that it meant something to everyone that person’s life touched. Take *SPOILER ALERT* Living Dead Girl. The MC dies, but it is absolutely the right ending, the only real ending that could work, and impacts those around her. Too, there is a sense of release and hope in her death, that she will be at peace at last.



  2. Two of my stories now have had the m/c die and it definitely felt like the right ending to me. They gave life and hope to their people by their sacrifice. I know it’s hard not to feel bad about killing your darlings off, but sometimes it’s the only, the best choice.


  3. I think you make a very good point. There have been times when I have been on the fence about at story until a brilliant ending made it ultimately feel worthwhile. Although it is not the ideal situation, it goes to show how important an good ending can be.


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