Will the Ending work?

by Joaquin

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.

Comments for Will the Ending work?

Click here to add your own comments

Jan 12, 2016
Thank you!!!!!
by: Joaquin

To Glen
Thanks for the tip. I was so caught up about extending the story that I couldn't think straight when it was already so simple. Also I had no idea there was a comi-tragic ending too, I always thought it was classic big three. But again thanks for the help at getting me unstuck. Now I can focus at getting to work on it again

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Questions About Novel Writing.

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