That time when you can’t find an appropriate picture for the article you’re writing…Heh heh. You’re tough. Don’t complain. I’m good at explaining things anyway, without pictures. “Sure,” you smirk. “That must be the reason why you recommend having a picture on the front of one’s novel.”
Anyway…enough with the weirdness, and on to the article…
Where were we? Ah, yes. Another title in the Great Endings series. This time, we have a doozy: the Peaceful Ending (or the Peaceful One if you prefer, although that sounds like some legendary Buddhist monk). It’s a more advanced technique, because unlike the other endings that we’ve seen, it plays on the cerebral anticlimax that follows the confrontation. (Notice how I said “confrontation” and not “resolution”, but more on that later)
I’m going to say this and get it out of the way: if you want a banger, an end-all-be-all ending, a smashing and breathtaking conclusion to the story like fanfare at the end of a musical, this is probably not the ending you are going to enjoy writing. Choose something more suspenseful.
And all of this goes without saying that not all books should have a Peaceful Ending. Some books rightfully deserve that smash-bang-boom ending. The Peaceful Ending should be employed when you have characters that are in disarray after the confrontation with the bad guy(s).
A lull of peace after a period of conflict can really bring out qualities in human beings that you wouldn’t recognize without it. Especially when your characters are shaken: a small chat by the fireside, a surveying of a now-silent battlefield, or sitting at home alone with a mug of coffee can help resolve the final issues they may have. Hence, the true Resolution of the story.
The Peaceful Ending is the calm after the storm. But, as all good endings (GREAT endings, that is) it must be a resolution. Therefore, it has to answer key components of the story and square away loose threads. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a resolution.
This is what makes this ending more cerebral. It doesn’t finish the story with a physical altercation; rather, an intellectual one. The hero’s lingering questions are answered around a campfire the night after the raid. The heroine’s doubts are borne away by papers her grandfather left her in the old attic.
For this to be the case, then, you have to have some doubts left to get rid of. This requires not everything to be resolved in the confrontation. This ending requires more advanced planning than the others: be sure to leave the final mystery unsolved, the biggest meatball uneaten (huh?), and the resolution…well, unresolved. You need to resolve it in a moment of peace, not conflict.
And remember, your goal is not to just have a feel-good scene. Although that can be one of your aims, it cannot be the only one: you need to show us the end of the story. Did Garbo ever succeed in destroying Melchaton? Was the Relic of K’rahzandir ever found? Did the hero stop the bomb in time? I think you get the idea, but still: as in all good (GREAT, that is) endings, you need a proper resolution.
Good luck, and happy writing!
Be sure to check out my latest novel, Book 1 in the Praetors of Lost Magic Series, and our Publications page. Until then, writers!