Part 4 of your novel
This is the final part of your novel, the grand finale. Perhaps it will be the easiest one to write, the one you’ve been looking forward to from the start. Personally, the climax and the resolution are my favorite parts to write and to read. They can deliver a well-deserved dose of satisfaction provided they are done correctly.
The first mistake to avoid is not planning your ending before now. Prior to starting this part you should have made a conscious decision about what the ending of your book will look like. You might even find it helpful to write a one page or two page synopsis (something you will have to do anyways when you pitch your manuscript to a literary agent or publisher, so you might as well start practicing early).
Now for those of you who are plotters this is probably common sense and not a revelation; however, for ‘pantsers’ this might come as quite a shock. After all pantsers prefer to “fly by the seat of their pants” and make the story up as they write. Still it is crucial to have the ending in mind, because the finale is reliant on the three previous parts. Only when you are cognizant of the ending do you know what information and foreshadowing has to be planted in the first three quartiles.
Everything that happens in part four, and I do mean that without exceptions, needs to have been foreshadowed. Scooby-doo endings were the culprit has shown up once before in the first 75% during one line do not count. What you want as a writer is to give your reader the sense that if they had only paid closer attention they would’ve been able to solve the mystery and foresee the ending.
The two main events that take place in part four are the climax and the resolution. Let’s examine the climax first.
The climax is the big battle that the protagonist has been externally and internally preparing for the entire novel. This is the time when he/she finally finds the courage to overcome inner obstacles and defeat the antagonistic force. Again it is necessary to note that all methods that the protagonist enforces to triumph must have been foreshadowed in the novel previously. No new skills or new information can show up in part four.
If you have a dominant love story in your novel do not forget that the protagonist must save the day. Thus, if the story is told from the view of the female protagonist she has to overcome the antagonistic force. Of course she can be aided but it has to be ultimately her, not her love interest, who actively battles and wins in the climax.
Which brings me to another point. In part four the protagonist becomes a selfless hero that cares to not only save himself/herself but the world. It cannot be merely his/her life that is at stake anymore, it has to be more, such as the well being of his friends and family or perhaps even the universe.
Furthermore, the triumph should be accompanied with a cost. Although the protagonist prevails over the antagonist, something is lost. This could be presented in various shapes. It could be the death or injury of a close friend or it could be a painful realization, which the main character didn’t want to admit to himself/herself throughout the novel.
The climax should take up most of the fourth quartile, with the resolution taking up no more than two to three chapters maximum or 10%. Otherwise you run the risk of boring you reader.
In the resolution all plot lines need to be wrapped up (starting with the subplots and working your way up to the main one). Finally, a glimpse into the new life of the protagonist is presented, depicting the change that has occurred.
The relativity of the ‘happy’ in your end depends on the genre. Romance novels often feature a prologue where the happy couple is engaged, got married or is expecting an offspring. Fantasy novels tend to also portray a happy landscape- the evil has been defeated and the hero’s personality has evolved for the better. In contrast a young adult novels tend to feature a somewhat hopeful ending, one where there is potential for goodness but it isn’t guaranteed.
In spite of this being potentially the easiest part to write it is important to give it lots of thought. If the main job of the first three parts is to keep your reader intrigued and on board of your ship, the finale determines the impression your reader will take away from reading your book.
An unsatisfactory ending could lead to the reader dismissing your follow-up novels or not recommending your book to friends and social media. When it comes to books as well as many other consumer goods and services word of mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools. It can make or break your career.