A good ending for a zombie novel

by Ed Mark

Question: I'm writing a zombie themed novel. It's from a first-person perspective.

I was in the middle of writing the story (I'm not even sure if i should consider the ending without reaching halfway of the novel yet), I found inspiration in one of the books I read. I was planning to end the novel by making the main character fail the story goal... and somewhat, the ending I was planning was he is writing the whole novel all along and then he wants the reader to continue his quest. Let me quote some of the the line...

(Sorry. I'm not fluent at English. My novel is on my native language. This is just the translated version
"Finally, I'm almost done writing this paper. I never thought that it will all end like this. At least I'm not bitten and turned into one of them. I can feel that this paper will be in the right person's hand. If you're already reading this, you can assume that I'm already dead. It's just sad that I will never have the chance to know you personally. At least you've known me through this paper. I only wish one thing from you... and you should promise to fulfill this... (so on)"

1) Does considering the ending early bad or good?
2) Does 'killing' the main character and not making him fulfill the goal good?

I'm sorry for the long post. I will really appreciate the answer. Thank you for your time and have a good day.

Answer: There's nothing wrong with thinking in advance how the story will end. Having an ending in mind can help with the writing process. If you know the destination, you know that each event is a stepping stone along the path towards that destination. That knowledge tells you what steps must be there, and what steps can be left out.

As for
your second question, having your main character die without achieving the story goal can be either good or bad.

The question is whether the main character resolves his inner conflict, whether he is satisfied.

For instance, in a classic tragedy, the main character often dies knowing he has failed and that his life is worse because of that failure.

However, it can also turn out that failing to reach the goal leads to a better outcome for the main character. Even if he dies, if he feels more at peace with himself in the end, that would be a judgement of good.

On the other hand, a main character can achieve the goal, only to find out that it does not bring him the happiness he thought it would.

In the case of your story, it sounds as though the character fails to achieve the goal and is left feeling bad about his failure. We would call that story a tragedy, except that you have left a glimmer of hope - the hope that someone else may read the book and finish the quest.

It's a question of how you write that last chapter. If you give the reader the sense that the goal will likely be achieved by someone else, that the main character feels at peace with himself, and that he will not die in vain, then the judgement may be good.

If, on the other hand, the reader is left with the sense that the goal will not be achieved, or that it is too late to achieve it, and the main character is left feeling bitter, then the story will be a tragedy.

Of course, none of this is meant to say whether your story will be "good" or "bad" in terms of quality. That depends on how you write it. You could make either the happy ending or the unhappy ending effective.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Plot Invite.

search this site the web
search engine by freefind

Celebrating our 2nd year as one of the...

 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook

NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles

"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards

"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero