I sometimes love a story until the end and then I find myself dissatisfied all of a sudden. It’s not that the ending is badly written, it’s just that I wanted it to be different. Some movies that came out on DVD recognized this and offered alternate endings that the viewer could watch. I never found any of them satisfying either.
Why some endings leave me wanting more or different
I think there are three reasons that I find an ending doesn’t satisfy me.
Denial – the book is so good I don’t want it to end. These are the books I read over and over again. It’s because I don’t want to let the world go. I want to keep connecting with the characters and experiencing their disasters and successes over and over.
I’m not the target reader – some great books are written for a specific reader group and become universally popular. The book is great, but the ending is going to satisfy the target readers. An example of this is The Hunger Games. I’m a bit outside the YA reader age group. I loved the books and the ends of the first two were fabulous. I finished them and immediately bought the next one on my Kindle. The series end for me was too pat, too much tied off nicely.
The ending isn’t set up through the book – endings, good or bad, need to be supported through the story. It needs to be subtle and only obvious in hindsight. This is a particular bug for me when it comes to a mystery. When the big reveal comes, I should go “What the…. of course how did I miss that?”. If the killer is the transgendered cousin from Australia who joined the cast as the lovely barmaid a chapter before the end, that’s cheating (I’m looking at you Agatha Christie).
Endings are hard to write sometimes
As an author, I often wimp out on my endings in the first version. I rely on the person critiquing or editing to call me on it. When I wrote Closing the Circle, I was told to make the ending more punishing. The new Charity Deacon Investigation, Greed. has had the ending changed three times. My critique partners are quite determined to make me vicious.
What ending would you rewrite?
Here’s your chance. Put in a comment that explains how you would change the ending of your favorite book. If it’s new, try to stay away from explicit spoilers – or put SPOILER ALERT at the beginning.