Monday, 26 November 2012

Satisfying Middles and Thriller Endings

If there’s one thing that annoys me more than anything else when I’m reading, it is the climax that flaps about like a fish out of water and then a ‘so what’ stupid ending. I feel particularly disgruntled when I have spent many hours patiently reading (page by page and sentence by sentence) a book that seemed to promise a breath-taking climax, only to find the writer chickened out and produced a  wet firework instead of an explosive high point.

Endings and climaxes are two different things, I do realise, but they should both produce a feeling of satisfaction if the reader is to feel the story was worth reading.  In thriller writing the climax is the point at which you should feel excited (read thrilled) and can’t wait to see how it all comes out!
In thrillers, one of the best (and most used) climaxes is when someone’s life is threatened or someone is about to be killed and the hero has to keep on fighting against all the odds until he finally succeeds and overcomes the threats. Building up to this point in a proper believable way needs to be appropriately handled according to the story.
The ending is somewhat down river of this high point but it too should produce a feeling of satisfaction that all has turned out as it should. The ending should also fulfil and answer the original story question posed at the beginning of the book. All loose ends need to be tied up at this point and the reader should know it is the end of the story. Not turning the last page to see if there is any more…
So are your scenes properly built up so the reader stays in the story? Are your endings rewarding the reader?



  1. I do sometimes struggle with endings. I try to get them right as I agree with you that they're important.

  2. Interesting post, Pat. I think I've gotten lazy or in a hurry toward the end of a manuscript and could've have done better if I hadn't. I'll keep this post in mind. Thanks.

  3. I think the ending is vitally important. If it flaps about and is disappointing, you won't read any more by that author x

  4. What about books with a cliffhanger? I've heard some complain that it forces you to read the next in the series- but that can serve a great purpose! You wrote a series for a reason, and if a reader truly cares about what happens to the character, it means the writer has done a good job of getting them engrossed in the book! But yes, it is very frustrating to get to a climax and have it fizzle. Hoping nobody thinks that of my book! =X

  5. The ending should leave us emotionally satisfied and fulfilled.

    I have highlighted a new publisher and you are welcome to come by as they are inviting aspiring writers to ask their submission questions!


  6. I think endings are one of those things where very rarely every party will feel satisfied. Everybody thinks they can do a better job, especially non-writers, but reality is that what an author thinks will fit the story, and what the readers would love to read, are very different things. As a reader, I think the journey (read the development) will determine whether I will talk about the book positively and read further stories of the same author. The ending will determine whether I recommend it and if it will become one of my faves.

    Still, there are many stories I've read which endings were not so satisfactory at the time but years later I thought differently about them.

    Great post, really. Tons to talk about with this one.

  7. Great delivery. Sound arguments. Keep up the good spirit.
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  8. I know what you mean. There are so many books I'v read that fall into this trap. I think I'm having this issue with my novels. One had a bleh beginning. Another I worry about the middle and ending. Damn it's so hard to sort this out, huh?

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  11. Satisfying endings are so important. They don't have to be happy, just satisfying. Endings are the bane of my writerly existence ;)