With “The End of Harry Potter” so often a topic of discussion these days (it will never die as long as we keep it alive in our hearts), why don’t we take some time to talk about endings in general?
Have you ever read a book that was exciting and page turning, and then you get to the end and it just… stops? Or something ridiculous happens that makes you feel incredibly disappointed. This has happened to me quite a few times, and it is something that I wish authors would avoid.
You know, I don’t think I’ve ever had the opposite happen, where I’ve read a book that wasn’t that great, but I put it down and thought “Wow, that was a fantastic ending” (probably because I’m bad about stopping halfway through a book if I don’t like it), but I’ll admit, I’m picky about endings. I almost always like stories to end happily. It doesn’t have to be a perfect “and everyone lived happily ever after”-in most cases those seem incredibly cheesy and unrealistic (unless of course, it’s “The Hobbit” or a fairy tale, or something along those lines)- but I don’t want a tragic death on the last page either: if there’s going to be a tragic death, that’s fine, but I want to see the other character’s reactions and process the grief along side them, not be left hanging on the last page to mourn on my own!
Twist endings are great, when they’re well done. On the other hand, poorly done twist endings can be horrible. If the author doesn’t foreshadow the ending at all, or at least drop hints, it makes the reader confused, annoyed, and regretful of the time and money they wasted on the book. It makes the author look lazy and armature, and no one wants that!
I think it's really neat when the author ties everything together, taking things from earlier pages you may have forgotten about, and bringing insignificant details or events to life, as if revealing some great secret the whole story has been building up to. But even then, I want to see what the characters do with this information or, if they don’t know, at least hint at how it’s going to effect them.
These are more my personal preference than actual rules or necessities. The only thing you really need to do in an ending to make it a decent one, is answer all the readers questions. You don’t even have to do that. If you want to leave it open-ended, you can: just make sure anything left unanswered was done so intentionally (the end of Inception comes to mind).
Do you have a favorite kind of ending (Hollywood? Tragic? One that makes you think?) or a specific favorite book or movie ending? Any endings you absolutely hated? I'd love to hear about them, without giving too much away, of course :).