Finishing your book

As writers we all need that hook which grabs the reader and doesn't let them go. My first ever writing that someone other than my husband saw was a fan fiction story and started:

Jensen Ackles was fucked.

Well it certainly started dramatically enough and suited the tone of the whole story which was full of angst and passion and was the first incarnation of the Sanctuary idea.

When I first submitted Oracle the entire first chapter was set in Ancient Greece and was, for all intents and purposes, a telling of why the following story happened. That was deleted very quickly and instead we were taken into the main character's head where he had dreamed of some of the Greece details.

So I think I have a handle on what I need to write to pull a reader's attention to start, but what about giving 
the reader a satisfying ending?

I write romance. In fact to be more specific I write romance with a happy ever after, or in the worse case, a happy for now. 'One Night' was my first ever happy for now – something which I never even picked up on – even though to me the book was a HEA, as are all of my books. 

In my head Liam climbed the stairs, went inside, and he and Micah lived happily ever after. I implied it, but I didn’t specifically say it and some readers were not happy. 

In the Sanctuary books, the stories happen over a couple of days (except for Morgan and Nik in Guarding Morgan) and there was no way that I could write a specific HEA for those men without going down the path of instalove (which I am not that fond of). 

Yes, I wrote that they lusted, and felt like they had met their soul mates, but the specific happy ever after is something that is implied and not written. To me though, there is still a happy ever after.

It was while I was contemplating this issue that my brother in law passed me over a book he had been reading on the craft of writing. I have never read anything like it before but a lot of the messages inside it were one's I appeared to instinctively know or were instructions I had learned from my editors, proofreaders and my friends.

Things like story structure and specifically how to end your book.

One of the endings that the book talks about is 'closing the circle'. This is where 'the ending reminds us of the beginning by returning to an important place or re-introducing us to a key character'.

In 'Back Home' Kieran and Jordan are talking and I circle way back to the point of the book in the last page of the story:

Kieran says:  "I never imagined when I came home that I would end up here with you."

I mention the coming home part, which is essentially what this story is about, and reminds the reader of the journey they have been on.

In Texas Winter the book starts with Riley finding out he is a father, and ends with a family vignette based around a Christmas ornament so I suppose that is another book where the end ties to the beginning.

Am I consciously doing this? No one has actually 'taught me' how to write down the story in my head. Editors and friends have helped me become better at what I do, but a satisfying ending is something I think I learned from a very early age reading LOTR or Narnia.

Another thing I read was that as a writer I should 'avoid endings that go on and on'. They suggest that 'just as leads can be buried, so can endings'. Good advice I think!

They suggest we should have a look at the most recent stories we have written and 'place your hand over the last paragraph and ask yourself: "What would happen if my story ended here?" Is the natural ending for your story hiding?'

How do you finish a book? Do you link back to the beginning of the book? Do you prefer HEA or HFN? Do you struggle with endings? Or beginnings? 

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