In life, endings can be messy. Endings can be complicated. When readers reach the end of a novel, however, they are not looking for messy.  Readers look for happy endings, or at least some sense of resolution for all the problems and travails our characters have gone through. But what if the end of a story is both joyful and sad? What if things are resolved but new challenges still lie ahead? Does this mean it’s messy?

I am struggling right now with the very last few paragraphs of The Price of Secrets, satisfied that what happens is true, but not quite satisfied with how I have written it. Yet.

I did a brief search online for “Writing Endings” and came up mostly with ways stories end, checklists of things endings should include. I wasn’t searching for a formula; I was searching for advice and inspiration, or maybe inspirational advice.

After looking through my writing books, I pulled out one of my favorites, Hooked by Les Edgerton. It’s a wonderful book about beginnings, advice on engaging the reader from the very first sentence. I picked up the book, checked the index and found “Endings.” When I turned to page 14, I saw I had underlined this when I first purchased the book, more than ten years ago:

          All good story endings and resolutions should involve both an element of a win and an element of a loss.

          Yes. Exactly.  My ending isn’t messy; it’s complicated. Like life. Now I just need to get my words as right and true as I can. I want to leave readers of The Price of Secrets still wanting to know how the characters are doing long after they finish the novel, but satisfied I have told their story.                                   

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