Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. Right?
Not always. Have you ever had the bad luck of happily reading a book, reaching the climax, turning the page to find out what happens and seeing a message, something like, buy book two to find out what happens?
I have. In both romances and mysteries. And I’ll tell you what happens for me: I never buy that author again.
But those cliff hanger extortion kinds of endings are just the most egregious examples of bad endings.
More of them are like the one described in a comment in a recent Facebook reader’s group. I don’t have permission to quote the comment so here’s the gist of it. The ending “stunk.” After a big buildup it seemed like they suddenly remembered they had a deadline, made something up and spit it out.
I’ve read a number of books that ended like the one referenced in that Facebook comment. It seems as if the author was bored or tired and just stopped writing when he or she hit the climax and failed to provide a denouement, “the final part of a play, movie, or narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and matters are explained or resolved.”
For me, the denouement is necessary for a satisfactory ending. After working on a book for months and writing hundreds of pages, I can believe a writer just wants it to be finished. I can’t believe, though, that any writer wants to cheat their readers so I have to conclude they don’t know and can’t figure out how it all comes together.
Have you ever encountered a less than satisfactory ending in a mystery?
In addition to publishing multiple mystery and romance short stories in various anthologies, Catherine has authored four romances novels. Her latest book, The Disappearance of Lindy James, was awarded a GOLDIE for Best General Fiction.