Three words. Three magical words.
This post is obviously the inverse of my previous one, Four Words, Endless Possibilities. How do you end a matrix of dreams? After you've picked up the pencil, filled in those lines, after you've connected ideas in ways never done before, and after you've found those worlds, those unknown chains of events those strange rituals and mysterious people - what then? How do you wrap up such a story?
The greatest endings leave us with a feeling of resonance. Like the last notes in a symphony, they make us sigh and think, That was truly amazing. The greatest endings give us a sense of peace and satisfaction. And although some satisfying endings can be tragic, often times they end with the magical three words above, because happy endings tend to give us the most satisfaction. Sometimes happy endings can be disguised: the hero might not have reached his goal, but he may have grown as a person enough to convince the reader that the sacrifice was worth it.
If you were to strip away the mechanics of writing, many of the greatest endings have these magical three words glowing beneath.
So, why do these three words satisfy us so much? The answer is simple: because as humans, we strive to be happy. I think that sometimes we underestimate happiness, and our deep connection to it, and our yearning for it. I saw this quote by Joy Green recently: "Happiness is, in fact, as profound an emotion as misery, and there's as much drama in baking a cake as in World War III if you can tell the story so that we can see how the process changes someone's life. I wish a few more beginning writers would try to capture that. So sick of death, suicide, tragedy. Dark is not necessarily equal to deep."
What does this quote say in essence? It says that humanity is linked with a passion for happiness, and that stories should reflect that. As my mum would say, humanity's yearning for happiness is a "truth message". It's something we all understand at the most basic level. It's hardwired into our systems.
So, take advantage of that. Pick up that pencil one more time and write an ending that satisfies, and ending that resonates. Fill in that last line. And do it with those magical three words.