‘As for me,when I was finally back where I belonged, and as I looked into my husband’s smiling eyes, I finally understood what happily ever after could really mean.’
Me: *rolls eyes* ugh. Too sappy.
‘There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever. There are only small steps upward; an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn’t matter anymore. I am thawing.’
Me: Realistic resolution. But a little depressing.
‘His lips finally sear mine, more powerful than ever before. Wow. The solar system is finally in alignment, and I got my Do Over without even asking for it.’
Me: Not bad. Happily-ever-after with just the right amount of voice. Hmn...
‘In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.’
Me: Nice. But a little too philosophical for my taste.
See, I’m facing kind of a dilemma. One of the agent’s requests is that the ending of my story reflect the book’s ‘stand alone’ status. And, while I wrapped up all the questions I could think of for my initial MC, the very last scene and the very last sentence of my book leaves the future of the secondary MC hanging.
Now, even though I do intend to present this back to the agent as a stand-alone novel, the truth is, I really, really don’t want to change that scene. Not because I envision writing more novels with these characters. But because I enjoy the excitement of letting the readers fill in the gap with their own imagination when it comes to this. Maybe our secondary character will turn Fossegrim. Maybe he won’t. Maybe he’ll only turn long enough to heal from his injuries and then he’ll take measures to regain his humanity and go back to life as he knew it. We don’t really need to know. But it doesn’t hurt to wonder. And I feel like leaving those possibilities open will incite the reader to think about the book after they’ve put it down.
Leaving a raging question at the end of a book does lead one to believe that others will follow. So, technically, it really should be changed. But no matter what I came up with during revisions, the ending just felt wrong. So I looked to my bookshelf to inspiration and was disgruntled to find very few books that were stand-alones. Today’s YA market is inundated with series (thus why the agent prefers an author try their hand at a stand-alone first).
But finding that perfect balance of resolution, characterisation, and satisfaction has proved, well, absolutely flupping frustrating.
So, I ask you, my friends. When are some of the endings that leave you feeling satisfied as a reader? Do you prefer when everything is all wrapped up right down to how many kids the MC’s will have and what their dog is named, leaving no room for questions about their future? Do you prefer vague endings, leaving some things open to the imagination? Realistic or happily-ever-after? And how do you think the ending of a book should change in regard to the genre?
(The above quotes were taken from Kristan Higgan’s ‘One and Only’, Laurie Halse Anderson’s ‘Wintergirls’, Simone Elkeles ‘Perfect Chemistry’ and Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ respectively.)