Obviously, the first five pages are probably the most critical pages in your book. But, your ending may be what your reader always remember. How many times have said, “I loved the book, but hated the ending?”
A good ending is a well planned ending,
The structure of a murder mystery follows a plot structure, which I outlined here. Going a little deeper, the ending also follows a structure with three parts: Crisis,Climax and Resolution.
Something wicked this way comes… and your sleuth is going to have to face it head-on. Here, you sleuth uncovers the secret hidden within your story, and that leads to the final, peaking confrontation. The showdown between good and evil. With it, your sleuth may also discover:
- the identity of the murderer
- the location of the murderer
- the motive of the murderer
- he has been believing a lie
- the true plot
- the obvious suspect was falsely accused
- he has been conned all along
- the object or person he has been seeking
The point of no return. Now, your story’s over-arching question is answered, and your character’s fates are decided one way or another. The sleuth must take the action that will bring resolution to the plot. The more challenging, painful and suspenseful that action is (and is written), the more engaged your reader becomes. A few questioned answered in the climax, may be:
- What have the characters learned about each other
- What tools or devices must the sleuth use to achieve his goal? What does tools does the murderer use to protect her position or identity?
- Is your sleuth the type of person to use a weapon? Does she know how to use that weapon? How clever and resourceful is she? Does she have any skills or specialized knowledge to fall back on? What is in the environment around her that she can draw upon in that climatic scene?
- How evil is your villain? What level of violence is he capable of in the showdown? What will the collateral damage be?
What are the consequences of the showdown? Good or bad, the problem must be resolved, and the sleuth must achieve her goal — at some level — with the resolution. Even if there’s a sequel planned, this story here must be resolved. If your characters are well written, they will tell you what they will do and to what lengths they will go to achieve their goal or to resolve their problem. A few resolutions may be:
- Lovers learn the truth and reconcile
- The murderer is caught before committing another crime or act of violence
- The villain brings about his own demise
- The sleuth rescues another intended victim
- The sleuth gets the murderer to confess his sin or crime or goal
- An intended victim is found safe
- A hostage is rescued
- Last minute evidence is found to clear the innocent suspect and prove the guilt of another
- The patient recovers
- A cure is found
- The medication is brought in time
- Someone sacrifices himself for another
- A dream is finally fulfilled
- Someone’s faith is restored
- A coward becomes a hero