YA KNOWHOW Satisfying endings

How do you like your endings? Neat and tidy? With a little ambiguity? Open-ended? 
This week, Tracy Darnton takes a closer look at what makes a great ending in YA.

We hear a lot about the killer first line but the ending is really important too. Your reader has invested their time and effort into reading the whole of the book. What do you want to leave them with? Resolution? Ambiguity? A warm glow? You certainly don’t want them to feel confused, short-changed or that the novel has petered out. And what about hope? This is often where a YA novel differs most from an adult book.

There's always a moment in the plot where ‘all is lost’ but by the end of the story there should be a glimmer of hope and possibility, rather than irredeemable bleakness. Your characters don’t all have to ride off into the sunset – a dose of realism is good - but sometimes it’s OK to give the reader what they want. Those two main characters get together, don’t they?

If you’re finishing on a big action moment, it’s tough to tie everything up without it seeming contrived and interrupting the pace and tone of a big reveal. So consider a time jump, or epilogue, to provide that resolution. One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus or Sunflowers in February by Phyllida Shrimpton are good examples.

What if it’s not the end, but to be continued? This is tricky to pull off but you need to tie up enough loose ends for satisfaction while leaving enough plot hooks still dangling for the next book. Revisit Patrick Ness’s The Chaos Trilogy.

Look back at books you’ve read recently. Did they end at the right place? Could the story have ended earlier, or did you need more?

So this is THE END of this series on YA KnowHow. How was it for you?

Main Image by PIRO4D from Pixabay

Tracy Darnton’s YA thriller The Truth About Lies was published by Stripes in July 2018. She has an MA in Writing for Young People. You can follow her on Twitter.


Eleanor Pender is Knowhow Editor. If there's something you'd like to know how to do, send your suggestions to knowhow@britishscbwi.org

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