There may or may not be spoilers in this post, so if this book is on your reading list, don’t read any further!
I won’t give exact details for this book, because I don’t want to ruin it if you decide to read it in the future, but I think it’s a great example of a realistic ending. That being said, I am aware this is a dystopian novel and it’s not supposed to be “realistic” per se.
Here is the thing about books these days that has been increasingly getting on my nerves: happy endings. Not saying there isn’t room for happy endings, but to have everything work out perfectly and the jock and cheerleader stay together and no one dies or gets hurt or cries…it’s exhausting.
In real life, bad things happen. Bad things happen to good people, bad things happen to bad people. Good things happen to both parties too, but which ending do you tend to remember? (Again, not saying you have to end on a bad note, but having your characters come out with a few scars is desirable for growth and development. Who wants to read a book where the character stays the same the whole time?)
That being said, Allegiant ends beautifully, in my opinion. It was what I expected from the main character, but not in an I-saw-that-one-coming, sort of way. Tris, our blonde, hard-headed, heroine, was not the kind to give up. And she didn’t. And she paid for it. But I wouldn’t expect anything else from her.
What is your hero/heroine like? What is their goal? How can you give them some bumps and bruises along the way?
But here’s the catch: how do they transform from those hard moments? Do they weaken or become more resilient?
Whichever the case may be, be honest with yourself as you write the ending. Can you really accomplish what you want to if they survive the final chapter? If so, awesome! I look forward to reading their next book. If not, I will cry with you as I read how they end. Some characters just aren’t meant to live beyond the last page.
So, practically, what can you do?
-As you’re working on your plot outline or writing your first draft, if you feel ANY sense of untruth in your writing, change it. See what options there are and try them out. Maybe they just need a deeper scar, a deeper change. Or maybe they need the opposite. Maybe they need hope and life and the knowledge of a better tomorrow. Or both. Maybe it’s not only the character, but the reader as well, who needs both.
-Read books similar to yours and learn from their endings. Do you think they got the story right, or did you find it just a tad unbelievable? Rewrite the ending to what you think it should have been.
-Find a few unbiased people who are familiar with your story and can read each potential ending like a critical consumer. See what they think. Did they like one ending more than the other? If so, why? There is nothing wrong with getting a little help if you think it will make your WIP better.
What are you working on right now that you could use a little help with? Is there anything in your story causing you to stumble? Comment below and let’s see if we can work it out together.
[For more thoughts and advice, follow me on Twitter at @tclem91. Or just follow me because I sometimes retweet funny Buzzfeed articles. Your call.]