|Walt Mussell, Missy Tippens, Debby Giusti|
and Piper Huguley at the Georgia Romance
Writers meeting, March 16, 2013
Debby Giusti here!
I’m welcoming the first day of spring with photos of flowers I snapped in my local area. The beginning of spring signals the end of winter, and that’s what I’m blogging about today.
Not the change of seasons, but The End of our stories.
Lots of articles focus on creating compelling openings; few discuss how to end the story, yet The End is important. Why?
Because the beginning of a story sells the current book, but the ending sells the next book.
First, let’s define The End. I’m not talking about the climax. In a suspense, that’s the highly charged portion of the story where the hero and heroine are in imminent danger from an outside source, such as a villain or force of nature. Often one character saves the other in an emotionally charged scene that, hopefully, keeps the reader on the edge of her seat.
In a sweet romance, the climax pits the hero against the heroine, involves the black moment and revolves around two opposing goals that keep the lovers from coming together. Those barriers must be overcome to have the happily ever after, which is the portion of the story we’re talking about today.
For a suspense writer, that happily ever after can provide a significant change of pace. After struggling to stay alive, the hero and heroine are given an opportunity to express their love and luxuriate in each other’s arms. The dark clouds and stormy weather changes to blue skies and sunshine or moonlight and a star-filled sky. Everything that was not good just pages earlier is now perfect and peaceful and full of promise for a future together.
What do readers want?
♥ The WOW Factor.
The ending should bring a smile to the reader’s lips but also a deep sigh of satisfaction. If she loved the story, she’ll want to read more of your work.
The WOW factor works with agents and editors as well. They long for a satisfying ending and the promise of the next story being equally as well written. Pack an emotional punch into your conclusion. Don’t skimp at the end. Knock their socks off, and they’ll be dialing your number and offering you a contract.
♥ A Secret Surprise.
Save a secret to be revealed in the ending. After the breakneck pace of the climax, the end is the perfect place to share something from the past, especially if the revelation leads to healing and/or redemption.
♥ The Love Vibe.
The hero and heroine should declare their love in the final pages of the story. The promise of a future marriage proposal works if they haven’t known each other long, but even more satisfying is to write the proposal into the story. Allow the reader to become that heroine wrapped in the arms of her bigger-than-life hero. Let her feel the strength of his embrace as he pulls her close. She wants to gaze into his adoring eyes and experience the sense of connection that comes when two people—who your reader believes were destined to be together since the beginning of time—are able to overcome the obstacles that have threatened their relationship.
♥ Tie Up Any Loose Threads.
The story needs to be wrapped up neatly with a bow that pulls all the loose ends together. The main plot as well as the significant secondary plot lines should be resolved. (Note: A less important aspect of the story can be left dangling, if the hero or heroine alludes to how it will eventually tie into the plot.)
Since I can’t use the villain’s point of view in Love Inspired Suspense, the ending often provides an opportunity to reveal the villain’s GMC and establish the motivation that has driven him or her throughout the story. If two villains work in tandem, the ending allows me to show that devious alliance between the antagonistic forces and even unveil more sinister threats that would have loomed if the hero and heroine had not intervened.
♥ Declaration of Faith.
While the characters often turn to God during the climax, that acceptance of the Lord in their lives is solidified in the closing. Their newfound or renewed faith will be the bedrock upon which the hero and heroine will build their relationship and their marriage. The reader should be convinced that these characters will never again waiver in their commitment to or their love for the Lord. As devoted Christians, they will walk boldly into the future with Christ at their side.
♥ To Epilogue or Not?
An epilogue is a glimpse into the future or a scene that plays out after a period of time. Everyone loves a wedding, and the epilogue is the perfect place to have the hero and heroine exchange their wedding vows, kiss and then leave the church arm-in-arm as they start their new life together.
Skip ahead even farther to show a pregnancy or the birth of a baby. The reader will love knowing about the blessings that have come to this heroic couple and their sweet family.
♥ The Takeaway.
Offer hope to your reader. She too may have struggles and needs to overcome obstacles that hold her back from living life fully in the present. When your fictional heroine conquers her greatest fears, the reader realizes she too can tackle the problems in her own life. She may also realize she can trust the Lord and that He is a God of forgiveness and mercy who loves her unconditionally.
♥ Milk the Emotion.
Give the reader time to enjoy the ending. In my upcoming September release, The Soldier’s Sister, I have a scene where the hero and heroine declare their love. I added an epilogue to bring the secondary characters together. The scene takes place three months after the story, set in August, ends. I chose Veteran’s Day in November—a perfect holiday for my military characters--to showcase the progress everyone has made with the physical and emotional issues that play into the story.
What do you like to see in the ending of the stories you read? Which endings have stayed with you as special memories you will always treasure? What points do you work into the conclusions of your stories and why do you think they are important to include?
I’m at The End of this blog, although the discussion will continue throughout the day. Take a short break from Speedbo and post a comment to be included in the drawing for one of my Love Inspired Suspense stories, winner’s choice.
Happy writing! Happy reading!
Wishing you abundant blessings,
Join me at the Barbara Vey Reader Appreciation Lunch on April 27th in
Mix and mingle with 37 of your favorite writers, including New York Times best
selling author James Rollins. Each person attending will receive a tote bag filled
with books and goodies as well as the opportunity to win one of the numerous
author-donated baskets and book donations. Enjoy a delicious luncheon with each
table hosted by an author, and take part in a private book signing following the
festivities! Sign up at http://www.BarbaraVeyReaders.com Milwaukee, Wisconsin
(Due to a glitch in the website, anyone wishing to sit at my table—which I would love—needs to email that request to Barbara firstname.lastname@example.org.) Hope to see you there!
THE GENERAL'S SECRETARY
By Debby Giusti
Trusting the Wrong Person Can Be Deadly...
Lillie Beaumont's dark past has just turned up on her porch--fatally wounded. The dying words of the man imprisoned for killing Lillie's mother suggest hidden secrets. Criminal Investigations Division special agent
Timmons agrees. He has his own motive for seeking the truth, and it gives
Lillie every reason to doubt him. But even as they reluctantly begin to face
painful secrets together, Dawson
fears that a murderer is waiting to strike again. And this time, Lillie is
right in the line of fire... Dawson