How to Write a Satisfying Ending for Your Mystery Novel
Mickey Spillane said, “Nobody reads a novel to get to the middle. They read it to get to the end. If the ending’s a letdown, they won’t buy anymore. Your first chapter sells your book. Your last chapter sells your next book.” This quote speaks a million words on how important the ending of a book is.
Suppose the opening draws the readers in and sets the stage for an enigmatic mystery story about to unfold. In that case, the ending resolves the storyline, leaving readers with a rewarding and satisfying read. The ending is not as simple as the protagonist completing the arc he has been making throughout the story. The ending is the part in which all the questions are answered. This is what makes the story a story—it’s what gives the piece its meaning in which the theme of the narrative crystallizes. Without it, all you have is a series of events that might be entertaining and heart-pounding but ultimately don’t go anywhere or mean anything.
A strong, satisfying conclusion that will resonate with your readers long after they’ve put down the mystery novel. It lodges your novel deep into readers’ minds. How a book ends is one of the most important decisions authors can make in their writing career. Writing the ending is not as easy as one thinks. Endings can confound even the most experienced authors.
Writing the ending is a challenging undertaking for a lot of authors. After all, you don’t want to conclude a great story with a weak ending that disappoints. So how can you end your mystery novel ideally like that of J.B. Clemmens’ Mystery At Pima Point? Read below to learn.
Decide a Clever Way to End the Story
Endings have an enormous impact on how (and if) readers will remember your mystery book in the years to come. While endings don’t necessarily have to be “happily ever after.” They do, however, need to gratify readers. As you outline your story and map out the character’s journey, you have to surprise your reader with the end. The perfect conclusion is the one that complements and fulfills the purpose of the story. See, there are six clever types of ending to help you finish your masterpiece. These are:
Resolved ending. All the plotlines and character threads are concluded, and the fate of everyone is known. This is the typical ending of most mystery novels.
Unresolved ending. It leaves readers to ask more questions than it getting answers. Not all mystery books tie up their plot threads—and sometimes, that’s a strength.
Implied ending. Sometimes called the ambiguous ending. This ending didn’t directly state what happens to the characters, leaving readers wondering about the “what ifs.”
Twist in the tail. It ends the story in a way that catches the audience by surprise with the unexpected turn of events.
Tied ending. Ends the story where it began.
Expanded ending. It is known as the epilogue and goes beyond the ending in the way of looking into the future.
Build Tension in The Leadup
A great ending is influenced by the build-up. Mystery is a genre that is reliant on twists, turns, tension, and suspense and will require a stronger build-up. Most mystery authors create suspense (tension) by making it seem like the characters might not succeed.
Tie All Loose Ends
Although this does not apply to all types of ending, wrapping up the storyline threads is crucial before the reveal. It brings a sense of closure to the reader in some way and resolves all elements introduced throughout the story. Plot holes and the little details that may linger in readers’ minds must be wrapped up as well. This allows the reader to close the book feeling satisfied with where the story and character stand.
Tick Off All Elements of a Satisfying Ending
A kind of contrived ending doesn’t sit well with many readers. A satisfying ending needs to be a logical, appropriate conclusion for what came before—not an ending that comes out of the blue. There are elements that can make for an excellent ending for your mystery book. These are the resolution, transformation, suspense, and surprise. If you believe that everything is ticked off your draft, then it’s the right ending.
Of course, there are no universally right or wrong endings. Every reader will vary in likes and dislikes. However, it is up to the writer to consider all reader expectations, whether it is to serve an ending that meets or subverts those expectations.