The Five Types of Novel Endings

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Write Great Fiction: Revision & Self-Editing by James Scott Bell

Novels have to end, and in a way that isn't predictable yet is satisfying to the reader. Endings tie up loose threads, unless you're writing literary fiction, which allows for more ambiguity. Rules for writing endings can barely exist, because endings are tied to the unique story elements of each novel. Your imaginative powers will be tested most when it comes eto creating a satisfying conclusion.

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Beginnings are easy. Endings are hard.

But it will help if you know the five types of endings:

  1. The Lead gains his objective (the happy ending).
  2. The Lead loses his objective (unhappy ending).
  3. The Lead gains his objective but loses something more valuable (classic tragedy).
  4. The Lead sacrifices his objective for a greater good.
  5. The ending is ambiguous or bittersweet (mostly for literary fiction).
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