Will the Ending work?
Question: I've got everything for my To-Do list done. The plot, Characters with a role, the Protagonists journey from zero-hero etc. Except the ending.
At first I thought this was a brilliant idea, since killing off my characters is a old habit of mine since i was younger and decided to work with it. The ending happens immediately after the final battle where the hero defeats the bad guy and goes off to join his friends. But before they reunite, the bad guys fortress collapses around them and all but the hero escapes, being dragged down to disappear with the baddies. The thing is I don't make him die exactly but they just assume he's dead until he comes back later on in the sequel.
I've already explained the ending to a few friends and they admit it was good since it's "not what they expected" but deep down a side of me keeps hitting me in the back of my head telling me to change the ending. So now I've put the whole thing on pause because I feel too lost to continue. Do I supposedly kill the protagonist in the ending but reveal him in the sequel or do I do that in the ending instead?Answer:
I wouldn't worry about the sequel too much. Focus on making this first story right.
What you should bear in mind is that the ending is what delivers the meaning of the story. It should be the natural result of the choices the characters make (particularly the main character), and especially the choice made at the crisis.
What you have
right now sounds like a comi-tragic ending. That is, the goal of the story is achieved (the villain is defeated) but things don't work out too well for the main character (who seems to have died).
This ending implies that the main character made the wrong choice at the crisis. He either gave in when he should have stayed steadfast or he stayed steadfast when he should have taken a leap of faith, and this is why he comes to an unfortunate end.
It's a bit like how Frodo makes the wrong choice at Mount Doom (to keep the ring), and even though the ring gets destroyed (goal achieved), Frodo is left with a permanent wound and can never truly rejoin the Shire and receive the rewards the other hobbits do.
So what you have to decide is... is this the type of ending you want? Are you telling a story about a hero who ends up worse than when he started, even though the world gets saved?
Your alternatives are either to write ...
1. The classic happy ending (goal is achieved, main character is better off because he made the right choice).
2. The tragic ending (goal is not achieved, because the main character made the wrong choice, and everyone is worse off).
I can't tell you which choice is best, because it's your story. You have to decide what type of ending your hero deserves. But I can tell you that the ending will be far more meaningful if it is the result of the main character's choice, how he resolves his inner conflict.
Best of luck.