“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” —Orson Welles
In an earlier post, I talked about backloading sentences, paragraphs, and scenes. Meaningful words at the end of these leave the reader with what’s important. And backloading leads the reader to continue reading.
- Do we need to backload a novel’s ending with specific elements?
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We want the reader to read our next book, right? But how do we discover what elements are expected in the ending of a novel in our genre?
Because I write inspirational romances, I researched that genre. I also took a look at non-inspirational legal thrillers. You can do the same for your genre.
- How to Discover the Expected Elements of Book Endings for a Genre
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♥ I gathered 50 inspirational romances. These included: historical, suspense, contemporary, prairie, regency, and humorous romances. Forty-seven unique authors were represented. I used 10 novels by different authors for a quick look at inspirational legal thrillers.
♥ I read the last 2 pages of the last chapters—not of the epilogues, which many included. I considered epilogues extra explanations and not the ends of the romances. The last 2 pages proved sufficient in showing what the novels left us with in the backloading sense.
♥ I noted the repetitions of elements among the novels.
Repeated elements from 50 novels:
♥ 100% had happy endings. Almost always a given in this genre.
♥ 76% spoke of God. This ran from a mention of God to praising God. Overwhelmingly, though, the element was characters praising God for changes in their character, in their lives, or in the person they’ve grown to love.
♥ 56% had the hero and heroine share a real kiss.
♥ 40% included a marriage proposal or a wedding. Some couples are married from the beginning. Or the story continues after the wedding or the proposal. Or we’re left with the assurance the relationship will grow.
♥ 36% issued noble last words. Although several summarize realized growth in the last 2 pages, this percentage applies to the last few words. Words about how the character is prepared to face the future or about new beginnings.
♥ 32% had at least one character say, “I love you.” Several mulled over or spoke of love, but in this percentage, the actual “I love you” words were spoken.
♥ 18% worked the title of the novel into the ending.
- Consider these elements for effective book endings in inspirational romances.
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Remember, though, how well we write these elements determines how good they are.
Non-inspirational Legal Thrillers
For my sample of 10 novels, the emerging elements were:
- Discussion of the outcome. This could be wrap-up explanations or talk of appeals or of additional legal actions. (7)
- Discussions with or about the victim, the guilty person, or the innocent defendant. (6)
- Hope for the future or hint of spiritual recognition. (5)
- Moments of the main character’s personal life. Opposed to his legal life. (4)
- New action, post-case development, or a gotcha. (4)
- Discussion of the verdict’s accuracy. (3)
Readers or writers, what elements do you expect in the last pages of your preferred genres?