The final page of your book is one of the most important. It’s your final opportunity to impart your wisdom, encourage your readers, and leave a lasting impression on them. If you’ve ever watched a gymnast perform, she will finish with a dramatic flourish that leaves a lasting impression. Great books finish in the same way.
Some authors, like best selling novelist John Irving, actually write the end of their books first and then plot out the rest of the story working backwards from that spot. In non-fiction books, the end of the book is your opportunity to summarize all the key points in your book and make a final emotional appeal for your readers to take action.
Whether you are just starting your book or you are in the middle of writing it, take these steps to create a winning ending for your book:
- Decide how you want your readers to feel when they reach the end of your book. Do you want them to feel elated, inspired, peaceful, empowered, or soothed? There are many emotions you can inspire in your readers so select the key emotion and craft the ending of your book to produce that feeling.
- It is important to end your book with a lasting memory. Use a story, metaphor, poem, or word picture to create a visual image in your reader’s mind. Perhaps you paint a picture of a beautiful future, a loving moment, or a new life. Once you have identified the emotion in step one, you can create a word picture to anchor that feeling for your readers.
- Remember that the end of the book is all about the reader. Some nonfiction authors create a weak ending when they use the end of their book as an invitation to contact them or visit their website. Those marketing invitations are important. However they are better placed in an appendix, afterword, or as a recommended resource. Make the ending of your book a powerful appeal to your reader’s best interests, then insert a blank page so she will take a mental pause, then insert any marketing invitations.
- Carefully consider the emotional tone of your book. The best books, like great songs, have emotional peaks and valleys so that readers do not feel overwrought by the intensity of the book. Save your highest level of emotional content for the final chapter so that your book ends in a crescendo, like a cymbal crash at the end of a symphony.
Some books end weakly, like the author became tired and just stopped writing. If you follow these four steps, you’ll end your book in a way that empowers your reader and has they eager to work with you more deeply.