This is not to say I don't want bad things to happen in books. In fact, bad things need to happen to characters. The struggle, the heartbreak, the striving against impossible odds, this is what keeps me turning pages. In the end, though, I want those characters to prevail. And there are many kinds of triumph. Quite a few of the books I've loved end with a characters death. But even in those books, there is a sense that all will be well, that redemption is found, or that love can prevail.
As I writer, I strive to leave my characters in a better place when the story ends. Not a perfect place, perhaps, but a better one. I like to leave them thinking all is well. The world is still full of dark places, but these characters will continue to find their way through. This is as true of comedy as it is of more serious fiction.
My hope is that if the ending satisfies me, it will satisfy readers as well. Do the job right, and you leave readers wanting to linger for a moment in the world the novel has created, to stay in this place, this right-now place, where all is well.
In an effort to put my books where my mouth is, I'll share a few of my endings with you.
He took a sip of tea, raised the glass to Dorothea and sat back in the chair. “It’s a beautiful day, the view here is spectacular and the company is terrific. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time than to hear the story of your great grandparents.” Dorothea blinked, maybe surprised at his interest, and the bit of wetness is her eyes told him his interest meant a lot to her. “Well then, where do I begin?” “How about at the beginning? How did Lenora and Anton meet?” “Oh, that is a good story. Lenora’s father had died, you see, and her relatives had arranged a marriage to a rather odious man. Lenora, being Lenora, would have nothing to do with the arrangement and stowed away on a ship headed for San Francisco. The ship’s captain was a dashing and bold young man named Anton Boudreaux.” Joshua closed his eyes and as Dorothea spoke, he could feel the spray of salt water on his face as the rigging creaked and groaned under the flight of sails.