Great Endings: The Ultimate Battle

*Cue Final Fantasy VI boss music*

There are many types of great endings, but the Ultimate Battle is one of them. Not to be confused with the Temporary Victory we see at the end of LOTR: The Two Towers, the Ultimate Battle is final: the conclusion of the battle of good and evil. It’s a confrontation and a battle in one. Usually the confrontation and “tell-the-truth time” as Marshall Hogan would put it are separate. the answers come before the battle, or right after. Not so with the Ultimate Battle.

Usually the Ultimate Battle archetype is found in fantasy or action novels, and the Great Confrontation is used in say, a more romantic novel or a mystery story. So please, don’t go trying to fit an Ultimate Battle into your Jane Eyre-type story. Save it for the books that contain more action.

That being said, not every book or story that includes action has an Ultimate Battle. Sometimes it’s only a confrontation, or the lesser-well-known Temporary Victory. So don’t feel obligated to make the resolution violent. (Although this often needs to be the case: adversity both builds and reveals character)

So, to the point: what’s the essence of the final battle? Exploding cars and blown-up bridges? A heated debate followed by a to-the-death duel? A tart exchange of diplomatic words before two armies clash? No to all of them. Although these can all be elements of the Ultimate Battle, the real glory comes from your buildup strategy. You have to make it apparent that there will be a final battle with the evil adversary. Hints will do, but create them in plenty. There must be a certainty in the reader’s mind that they can hold on to: “The final confrontation is fast approaching, and I need to keep reading so I can see the end of the story.”

So yes, hinting and prophesying and planning are all great devices for setting up the final battle. Make sure your setup is secure. What else? Well, the Ultimate Battle breaks down into two primary parts: the confrontation and the battle scene. Those are two endings in of themselves.

The confrontation is basically tell-the-truth time. This involves the unravelling of the villain’s main plot, shock of the main character, etc. Make sure that this “confrontation” bit reveals the “inner workings” so to speak, the “clockwork” of the entire plot. Make the reader get the impression that, again, this was what the plot was building up for the entire time. Make some revelations about the main character that even he (Or she) didn’t know. This the final setup set, and after this comes the battle part.

The battle part is harder. This can be handled any number of ways, like with a big battle between two armies or a duel between two people. Choose one that seems the most appropriate. If there are martial kingdoms involved, make it a massive battle. But if it’s a personal conflict between the main villain and the main character, it could evolve any number of ways. Trust your instincts on this one. Choose one that seems natural, but invariably it MUST include fighting between the main villain and the hero.

One natural complaint: you may want to use this ending, but you fear it will butcher your any chance of making a sequel. This is false. Narnia has a very Ultimate Battle-type ending, but still leaves room for literally five other novels. To fix this, just make the Ultimate Battle relevant only to this conflict. The Ultimate Battle invariably contains an overwhelming sense of finality, but just make this villain and all their cohorts are defeated. If you want to make a sequel, you’ll have to craft a villain that is barely connected with the last one. This distinguishes it from the Temporary Victory.

Creation Challenge: In the comments below, sketch out a possible course of action if you wanted to use the Ultimate Battle. What would the confrontation be like? Where would it take place? What would the battle be like? Small or large?

Good luck, and happy writing!


Published by Van Ghalta

A cold, dark, mysterious character who purposefully wrote a story so that he could fit into it...A story where he himself WRITES stories, practices martial arts, blogs, plays airsoft, collects MTG trading cards, plays outdated video games, and writes weird, third-person bios for himself...

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