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As some of you already know, I just finished a book a few days ago titled The Glorious In-Between that contains two asexual, aromantic characters. It took me almost a week to write the ending. This has been true for every book I’ve ever written, from When Stars Die to The Stars Are Infinite.
I don’t know why endings are so difficult for me to write. It isn’t that I’m getting to the end of the book and I don’t want it to end, because I do want it to end! I desperately want to finish the dang draft! I just tend to slow down, and I can’t even explain why this is so.
Endings are hard, regardless of whether or not you can blow through one in a day or drag yourself through the next couple of days trying to get that ending down.
The book has to end, though. It has to tie up all loose threads (an exception can be made for books in a series) and end in a way that is both satisfying and unpredictable.
First, let me present the five types of endings:
- The happy ending
- The unhappy ending
- The tragic ending, wherein the protagonist does succeed at his/her objective but had to sacrifice something for it
- The sacrifice, wherein the protagonist sacrifices his/her objective for the greater good
- The bittersweet ending
If you know these five types of endings, you’ll at least be able to choose how you’d like to end your book, depending on the progression of your book. You don’t want to do an unhappy ending for the sake of an unhappy ending. The ending you choose has to make sense with everything that has occurred in your book.
One thing that used to happen to me in the past is that I would write the draft of the book but not write the ending and let the draft cool. I’d write the ending in the revisions. That has worked for me, but it’s something I’m not interested in doing anymore. I just want to get the ending over with.
You can outline your ending in detail. I did not do that. I just wrote the ending by the seat of my pants. I binge wrote The Glorious In-Between, so it was exhausting having to outline it, too, at the same time. I’m not sure if this is going to happen with All Stars Align, which will be the title of the third book in The Stars Trilogy. I already know exactly how I want to end the third book, but that doesn’t mean the ending won’t be any less difficult for me to write. After all, I already knew how I wanted to end The Glorious In-Between before I even began outlining it.
In any case, the best endings for any book are endings that leave the readers remembering that book. After all, everything can be great and fantastic, until you get to the ending. It doesn’t matter how much your reader loved your book before the ending. If the ending is poor, readers are going to finish your book with a bad taste in their mouths—and then most likely forget they ever read that book.
You don’t want that to happen.
Resonance with endings can occur through narration, dialogue, and description.
Here are some final tips for your ending:
- Don’t introduce new characters or subplots. The ending of a book generally occurs in the last 30-50 pages, so there really is no time to introduce a new character or subplot. The only exception to this is if you’ve foreshadowed a character throughout the book and then put that character in those last 30-50 pages. Of course, I think I actually broke this rule with When Stars Die, when I do introduce a new character in the very last chapter. No readers have complained, of course, but it’s also an epilogue.
- Don’t spend too much time musing. Endings are generally fast-paced, because the ending is coming to a head, and you want the ending to have the most tension out of any part of your book, so you need to minimize descriptions.
- Don’t change the tone. If the tone of your ending changes, it will sound tacked on to readers, like the chapter was a mere afterthought.
- Make sure your objective is strong. Your MC is after something, and that something needs to be made obvious in some way. Novels of a literary nature have some leeway on this, but other types of fiction really don’t. The MC is either going to achieve that objective in some way, or the MC is going to lose out on that objective.
- Think of several possible endings. Don’t limit yourself to just one possible ending. Imagine as many as you can, and then choose the one that makes the most sense for your story. Although I knew how I wanted to end The Glorious In-Between, this doesn’t mean I stuck with the EXACT ending I had planned. I thought of several possible endings within the type of ending I wanted to do, and then as I came upon the ending, it occurred to me what type of ending would make more sense with how I’d written the story up to that point. So the ending must be in line with the story. It needs to make sense, and you don’t need to choose the easy way out. Readers are going to know otherwise if you do.
10 days and counting
I had cried most of the night because I didn’t think I could do it. I had been away from you for less than 12 hours and I missed you already. When I woke up I felt better like I had accepted it and was ready to try. At the airport it was okay although seeing all the couples together holding hands, kissing, I missed you and was kind of jealous that they got to go on holiday together. I missed being able to rest my head on you and your little check ups you would most likely do. I thought of how you would be in this situation if it was just us and I knew you’d take control and tell me to rest and sleep while you took me through and how we’d giggle at how much palaver it takes. How I’d sleep on you on the plane and most likely have to eat your food because you didn’t like it and how you’d complain at my four sugar needs. We’d laugh and giggle and tell each other to be quiet but fail horrendously. I held my mum’s hand when we landed because I hate that bit but could help wish it was your’s. Sleeping most of that day helped too and talking as well, both made me feel less lonely.
9 days and counting
Woke up from a nightmare where you put a Facebook status saying you were travelling to Berlin with some girl. We should do romantic things when we get back but there are so many parties that I feel I’ll never get you to myself. Walking around Venice although it is beautiful it is also hard, not that hard but I realise that every now and then my hand reaches out to hold your’s and your not there. I miss us wandering around somewhere whilst holding hands. I miss the rest of you yes but at the moment my hands feel it the most they feel empty and twitchy I have to keep rubbing them so they don’t feel as bad. I tried holding my own hand - it didn’t work. I’m walking around and thinking of us and where we should go on holiday. And wishing that it was you who I was getting lost with.
8 days and counting
Walking around Venice wasn’t as bad without your hand. There are things to distract me. Although my feet hurt and are hot and I just want to sleep all day so the days go quickly. It is very boring. I miss you though a lot. It rained for a good half hour i daydreamed that we had run outside and kissed on the bridge in the rain and I whispered ‘crazy’ and we giggled as we watched the gondola man run to pack up and get under cover after that we ran inside the apartment building hands starting to tremble as we turned the key into our room. You hugged me as I shiver and we showered and I wish you could be here. In the later hours of the day I soon became desperate for you. I just needed the satisfaction of flesh against flesh. Those moments during when we pull each other close and the bliss of afterwards nestled against the other like jigsaw pieces. And it was getting harder to deal with. I thought of ways to try and help, the only way was to subtly run my hands round my neck and chest slowly. But even with this all I could think of was the thought of ripping of our clothes and me sitting on the sink whilst I wrap my legs around you at Our friends house party. Talking to you makes everything easier.
7 days and counting
We went to the beach today and it made everything easier. I don’t know if the relaxing setting helped or the fact that I could read and sleep or even if I was just getting better at not missing you as much? The nightmare didn’t help though you calmed me back down and made me feel safe and loved again. On the beach I bought our sun and moon blanket and I proceeded to sing “you are my sun sun I am your moon moon you make me happy when skies are grey you’ll never know dear how much I love you. Please don’t take my sun sun away” I also thought of possible beach scenarios which I’ve already told you about, me pressing my wet boobs to your back and making you girlishly scream which turns into a defence of manhood. It was easier. At night the food depressed me I was tired of settling for something that I wouldn’t like but you cheered this blue moon up with your loving statements and made the moon shine once again.
6 days and counting
Today is a busy day. Waking up with a nightmare didn’t help but once again you were able to calm me down, I feel bad because it’s a running job for you. Last night was good and this morning I feel a lot more sturdy in this relationship and I feel I’m a lot better and closer with you. We’re going to see a man’s palace and it may be boring but it keeps me distracted. Having venice connected is a real help though. The palace tour was pooey and leg achey and I just wanted to turn around and for your arms to be there open waiting for me to cuddle you. In the space of 20 minutes I got depressed, hands still shaking as I type, desperately trying not to make so many mistakes. I don’t know how this happened but I’m angry at myself for letting it happen. I can only wish that you were here behind me under this blanket, arms wrapped round me so I could be safe again. You are my safe place. I hoped tonight you would get drunk again. I hoped every night you’d get a little drunk again purely because I wanted to hear those things that would not be said sober. In the later hours I hated myself the depression had fully taken over and I wanted everything to be over. The family hated me and my father called me the weakest link. I was tired of being like this. But I tried my best with natural hair and a cow lick fringe to put on a smile and hope that soon I would either wake up home or not wake up at all.
5 days and counting.
This is my 6th day here. So only 4 more days until I get to see you. I woke up with the pillows around me and for a blissful second thought I was in your arms again. I tried and update this diary on the spot as much as I can. But it’s now evening and I got depressed again and I can’t be bother to update this about the murano island because nothing special happened. Memories, feeling, and moments that I would have put in before are now lost. I felt pretty today. How people cope with being so depressed all the time I have no idea I understand the appeal to end it all though. I got better. I don’t know if this holiday is just bringing out some form of depression or if the holiday is giving me weird moons swings but without you I fear I might have ended up in the canal.
4 days and counting
It seems the nightmares have gone away? I say this but I will most likely have one tonight. It also seems that beach days are much easier to handle. I’m pretty sure because I have so many more distractions than I would in the city. You said something today which struck a cord a note a something. You showed understanding and you cared, it felt as if a promise that you would try and treat me better (not that you would need to, I already think the world of you and I already think that you treat me better than I deserve but you said you would treat me even better and I’m lost for words because I am so in love with you. And it’s now dawned on me properly that I am in love you. Words can’t describe. I always used to kid around about our marriage and at point I did honestly want to get married but it was more of later thing as in if you asked me now I would tell you yes but when we’re older but now I feel that if you asked the question, if you asked me to runaway with you and elope, if you asked me to go to Alaska with you, all answers would be yes.
3 days and counting.
Beach day today again. Desperate to tan as much as possible. Tanning used to seem really vain for me but now I can see the appeal unless you do it all the time and start to become wrinkly. I had two confusing dreams or one really confusing long one? You said you wanted me with red hair. I wake up now and because of the things you said yesterday I’m assured you don’t. I woke up once again feeling like I was back at your’s and was confused and even upset when I saw the tall buildings that framed Venice’s canals. The beach was okay I saw couples and thought of us thought of what we’d be like at the beach and thought of how we’d be when we see each other next. Missing you has turned into a dull ache as appose to when it felt like something stepping on my heart but I feel as you go back home and lose internet for the day the feeling of being stepped on might come back. I’m trying to rationalise myself saying that it’s only for the day and that I could probably do it. In the last moments when you said you had internet I kept checking my phone desperately but you never came back.
2 days and counting.
You are going home today. It’s the day I feared where I wouldn’t have you to keep as comfort. We went to the fish market which was weird and different. There was live music played as you saw fish being slaughtered and sold. We then hopped on the boat to Burano I slept most of the way so I could keep myself from pining for you. When we got there I was greeted with something that looked like toy town. The inspiration and need to practically take pictures everywhere kept me distracted. The hope of seeing you soon though kept me walking and just thinking that every minute that went by I would be closer to you. There were also a lot of cats about more cats than I had seen in Venice…so like 4. Once me and my dad had finally photographing every corner of Burano we then hopped back on a boat to Murano where me and mum spend another hour looking for the perfect glass bird for her. Once she had finally settled herself and actually bought something we went back home. Slept most if the way but got woken up to look at a dog. I spoke to when you got home but proceeded to have nightmares of you all night to the point where I have a knack to wake myself up.
1 day and counting.
My last day here I spoke to you as much as I could because you had wifi. We went on a theatre tour and saw some real life opera rehearsals that weren’t scheduled for the tour so we were lucky. It was the same opera that was featured in Pretty Woman which was pretty lovely. I spoke to you about seeing opera having a quick fantasy about you showing up on my door taking me mysteriously to London and seeing an opera kind of like in Pretty Woman. You seemed really excited to see an opera which I was glad and which was also a little bit lovely. I imagined cute little you toe wiggling and feet dancing ready to see an opera but then trying to man it up afterwards. We then went to the second biggest church which had a guy randomly singing opera outside for no profit which was kind of grand. Afterward we crossed a wooden bridge. The bridge was littered with love locks and couples names covered the wooden beams that held it up. I couldn’t resist. So I searched my mum’s bag for any kind of type of something to write or scratch with. I soon found a biro and I scrawled our couple names “El + El” with a heart around the plus onto the bridge. We our now on a bridge forever in Venice. I imagined us someday on that bridge with more couples names written over ours but with the faintest glimmer of our names still on there.
0 days and not counting.
It’s the day I’m coming home to you. There are no others words except I’m counting down the hours. In the last hour I got butterflies like I was nervous but very excited to see you. You ran out the door to see me and I almost cried. You didn’t let go and I hope you never do.
How to write panic attacks if you have never experienced one? I understand the symptoms, but trying to get into the mind set is a lot harder than just understanding what is meant to be felt. - AnonymousI understand what you mean, specially since you can’t always trust the information you find online or on textbooks. Most of these are written by people who don’t experience the condition you want to research, so what you find, in the end, is not much.Here’s a gathering of some personal experiences my dear followers shared upon my request; most, if not all of them, wished to remain anonymous. I respect their conditions.But first, some bulletpoints:
- Everyone’s experience is different. We’ve touched this matter before.
- Don’t combine every possible insight you read into one. They can’t all fit in the same person, certainly not in a realistic character.
- I think it’s rather redundant at this point, but treat the subject with the respect it deserves.
The compilation is under the cut.