So I figured, maybe you haven't either. And I did a little research, mainly by reading these articles:
- How to End Your Novel by Laura College
- Finding the End of Your Novel by Nova Ren Suma
- How to Finish Your Novel by festinapeoples on eHow
- Plotting the Novel's Ending by Harvey Chapman
What festinapeoples suggests in her eHow article is to create an outline of everything you've already written as you near the end of the novel. This isn't something I've tried--I don't use outlines. When I start a novel, I have a general idea of the story. I know several elements I'll be including, who the major characters are, and more or less where I want to end up. I often have several scenes already worked out in my head. And the task becomes to go from the logical beginning--although, considering the difficulty I've had with the opening of the RiP, there's nothing logical or straightforward about it--and make my way in the most coherent manner to each scene, until I've come to the end. But what I have done is create 3X5 cards as I reached the midway point of the WiP--it was getting hard for me to keep track of everything.
Festinapeoples's outlining method sounds similar. She suggests that you create it to be sure to tie up all of the loose ends you've created in the beginning and middle of the novel. My cards serve the same purpose, but they have the advantage, imo, of being easier to move around than the outline. Maybe the ideal is to do both.
- Create the outline of all preceding scenes or chapters.
- Create 3X5 cards for all the remaining scenes (my chapters have several scenes each, so it works better if each card has a scene, not a chapter).
- Make sure there's a card addressing each loose end from the outline.
- Play with the order of the cards until everything hangs together nicely.
Of course there are a lot of ways to go about this, and genre is a huge factor, as is the overall tone of your novel. My novels are paranormal fiction, with a strong women's lit quality. While some parts may get dark, at times, the overall tone of the stories is light. I write to entertain. I like to end with dialogue. My RiP ends with the mc and her love interest talking about the events they've just gone through together, and then the love interest asking the mc out. I think it's sweet. We'll see if my crit partners agree!
I'm guessing the dialogue-sweet-ending thing would not work for everyone's novel. Stephen King, for instance. I don't think he chooses that format very often.
How about you? Have you given much though to how to end a novel? Do you have wisdom to share about the right way and the wrong way to do that?