book ending

Book Ending: How to Write the Perfect One

Salmaan Ahmad

April 3, 2023

Sometimes, knowing crafting the perfect book ending is the hardest part of writing. You’ve spent months or years developing your story, and now, you’re at a loss to know how you’re going to wrap it up.

The Book Ending Is Here

The good news about having to end your book is that if a reader made it this far, you obviously held their interest. They’ve reached this stage of the book because they want to know how all the loose ends will resolve.

The readers have stuck with you up to this point, so give them what they’ve earned. They deserve a book ending that rewards them for sticking with your characters and your story.

What a Book Ending Should Do

  • Clearly summarize and wrap up the book.
  • Close any gaps in the plot. The book ending should answer questions raised during the book and close all storylines.
  • Offer more help to the reader. For a nonfiction book ending, it’s a good idea to add resources that will help the reader gain further understanding.

Elements of a Good Fiction Book Ending

The perfect ending has three primary elements. Make sure these are present in yours.

Resolution of conflict

A fictional universe involves various characters and storylines. At the end of the story, you must be sure that all the conflicts raised during the book are settled or resolved. The endings for each plotline don’t have to be happy, but they must make sense for the characters. The reader should feel that there is nothing left unanswered when they reach the book ending. The story arc must come to a logical conclusion, and the book’s central conflict must be resolved in a satisfying way.

Transformation

A character’s development is an essential part of any book. What did your character hope to achieve at the start of your story, and how well did they make progress toward that goal? If they did not get the outcome they wanted, were they able to come to terms with that disappointment?

Character development refers to growth, change, and acceptance. Some genres of writing require specific book endings. A romance must end with the two lovers together, even if that seems impossible at the start. In a high fantasy story, the main character must complete a difficult quest. In a spiritual or religious book, the character should grow in faith because of their struggles. What genre are you writing, and how will that help guide your book ending?

If you’ve written a literary or contemporary novel, you don’t have to follow these strict conventions. However, you must show that your character has grown and changed over the course of the book.

The element of surprise

When you end your book, make sure you include some surprise. There is nothing that falls flatter than a predictable book ending. If your reader can tell how the story is going to end from the opening pages, they have no reason to continue reading.

If you’re writing in a specific genre, this is tricky. Romances, mysteries, and horror stories all have certain book endings that every reader expects. However, you can maintain suspense throughout the novel that keeps the reader guessing. There should be a recurring fear that things might not end the way they should, or that another character could enter to throw a wrench into the main characters’ plans.

The most successful genre writers are those who can maintain these elements of surprise and suspense. The reader keeps turning the pages because they want to know what happens next and whether the resolution they expect will, in fact, work out the way it should. These writers know how to maintain the element of surprise, even when writing in a genre that demands a specific way to end book.

If you can manage to keep the suspense alive in your story, you will write a book ending that surprises and thrills your readers.

Should You Use an Open Book Ending?

An open ending is an interesting alternative that some authors successfully use. In this type of ending, you leave the reader guessing. Your ending may be abrupt, or it may suggest that something more might happen in the future.

Some famous novels have used endings that let the reader work out what happens next. Instead of being handed a resolution, the reader can decide for themselves where the story goes.

Some readers enjoy this type of book ending because it allows them to use their own reasoning skills to interpret a book’s meaning. They say the book stays on their mind as they mull over the possibilities. These readers believe that life is messy and unresolved, and a book should reflect that. Others enjoy the intellectual challenge of debating a book’s ending with other readers.

There’s a risk

However, the risk of an open ending is that some readers will feel unsatisfied and even angry. These readers want resolution, and an open book ending deprives them of that. Writers who choose to end a book this way are sometimes accused of copping out because they couldn’t come up with a good way to end things. Readers feel cheated by your inability to make a decision.

If you choose an open-ended conclusion, be certain you haven’t done so just to avoid writing the ending. Know why you’ve taken this approach. Maintain the suspense, and try to resolve at least some of the book’s plotlines.

Book Ending for a Nonfiction Book

A nonfiction book has a clear purpose, which is to educate the reader. When you’ve completed that task, it’s time to write the ending. Your book ending should leave the reader satisfied that they’ve learned the key things you wanted to share.

The ending you choose should be based on how well you feel you’ve covered the material you wanted to present to your readers. Here are some suggestions for typical nonfiction books.

Self-Help or How-To

Have you given your reader everything they need to know how to accomplish their goals? Have you laid out a step-by-step plan they can follow? If you have, you have completed your mission.

Conclude the book with a summary of what the reader has learned, what they need to do first, and how to ensure they succeed. It may be helpful to provide a final checklist of materials they need, resources to turn to, or a summary of the steps you outlined.

The best way to end a book is with a positive, uplifting message that says, “You can do it!” Remind the reader that everything they need to know is in the book, and that they have the power to change their lives for the better.

History or Memoir

A good way to end a book that relates a history or memoir is with a look at where all the players are now. Readers will be curious to know where everyone ended up. You can do this in just a few pages. If the story is about people in the past, end the book on a pivotal moment in their story.

Readers of memoirs, true crime stories, biographies, and other nonfiction accounts all want to learn more about the people they’ve come to care about. Wrapping up all those loose ends would make your book too long, but a brief epilogue explaining where each person is now makes an excellent ending for these books.

Political or Social Issue

A book on a political or social issue should conclude with a summary of the main points you raised. The ending should also mention where current and future research into the issue is headed.

Readers may also want to know what they can do in response to what they’ve learned. Offer suggestions in the conclusion of your book. Giving people a sense of hope that they can change something is a positive way to end a book that may deal with a difficult or contentious subject.

Make Your Book Ending Count

The best way to end your book is to keep your reader in mind. The ending is a gift to your reader. It’s a way to thank them for the time and attention they gave your book. Reward them for that with an ending that makes them glad they did.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this guide to book endings. At Publishing Xpress, we enjoy helping writers achieve their dream of getting published. Let us know what we can do to help you. Check out our Google reviews to see how other authors have enjoyed working with us.

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