Plotting a Novel: Part 6 - Novel Endings

Throughout 2023 writing instructor and pre-published author Tracey Kathryn (T.K.) Sheffield and I will be offering a blog series on plotting from the beginning developmental stage through the messy middle and all the way to the end, including editing advice on how to fix plot problems in a completed manuscript.

In Part 1, Tracey lists wonderful resources that are great for those that are new to writing or looking for a new approach to plotting in: "Plotting a Novel: Resources for Those Just Starting Out."

In Part 2, Tracey discusses how to use plotlines, tropes, and conflict to test your story ideas: "Testing Novel Ideas

In Part 3, Tracey and I discuss the virtues of outlining your novel vs. pantsing (aka: writing by the seat of your pants.) Watch the video here.

In Part 4, I write about the difference between the hook and the inciting incident

In Part 5, Tracey gives tips on how to avoid the dreaded messy middle of the novel. 

This month brings us to Part 6 as Tracey and I discuss the different types of novel endings and the tips and tricks for writing each well in the video below . . . 


Seven Types of Novel Endings

1) Happily Every After

Be careful not to rush this type of ending and make sure you've planted the seeds for the outcome. Your character's happily ever after should be foreshadowed. 

2) The Twist or Surprise Ending

Ending mus still be satisfying and the twist must make sense for the character arcs you've developed. (The surprise can't come out of nowhere.)

3) Circular or Perfect Loop Ending

Be careful that this doesn't feel forced . . . putting the character back where they began has to be/feel logical. (And -- of course -- the character must have been changed by the events of the story.)

4) Ambiguous or Interpretive Ending

Often, the facts are clearly stated in this type of ending, but there's room to interpret the ending in different ways. Things may be left unsaid, leaving the reader with thoughtful questions. 

5) Epilogue or Expanded Ending

Often authors are told NOT to employ this kind of ending. Be careful that you're not compensating for a weak ending by adding this extra content at the end of the story. 

6) Cliffhanger Ending

This type of ending leaves the reader wanting more. This is most often employed in books in a series (although not the final book). Be careful with this type of ending if the next book is not immediately available. You may be better off employing a partial cliffhanger, where you tie up the novel's main plot but leave remaining questions to entice the reader to pick up the next book. 

7) Moral of the Story Ending

This type of ending is often used for children's books, but also some literary novels. Be careful not to be too preachy as you spell out the lesson the characters' have learned. 


Yes, you can combine different types of endings . . . common combinations are:

Cliffhanger + Twist

Circular + Twist

Happily Ever After + Circular

and more!!


1) Does it immediately make the reader want to re-read the novel?

2) Does it hook the reader into wanting to pick up the next book in the series?

3) Will it make your reader think about that last scene long after closing the book? 


Other Resources:

From NY Book Editors: Everything You Need to Know about Writing Endings

From Reedsy - Book Endings: The 6 Ways that All Stories End

The 100 Most Powerful and Poignant Closing Lines from Literature


Happy writing! ~Tracey & Valerie

T.K. Sheffield, MA  -- Pre-published author, The Seymour Agency

I write books for readers who want to laugh and escape.

The Backyard Model Cozy Mysteries: A retired fashion model uses her skill at spotting posers to solve murders in her touristy Wisconsin town. (The first book in the series is on submission to publishers.)

The Valentine Lines: Cupid, minor god of love, is upset by the dismal state of romance; he blames dating apps. The god persuades—tricks?—his Aunt Hera, temperamental CEO of Mt. Olympus, Inc., into letting him move from drafty Olympus to a quaint small town. Ironically, the love god is struck by his own arrow and falls for a beautiful cafe owner. The relationship surprises his romance-business clients and angers his aunt. It’s a magical, fun, romantic comedy.

Follow Tracy on InstagramFacebook, and Pinterest for writing tips, author news, and to share my Wisconsin backyard.


Valerie Biel 

Award-winning author of the Circle of Nine series, writing educator, book editor, and author coach. (and if you're reading this -- you're already on my website -- so hang around and check out my books or other blog posts!)





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