Writing the end of a book can be a lot of things. Easy. Hard. Daunting. Terrifying. Exhilarating. Sad. Exciting. Some mixture of these or other things. The end of a book can bring closure, or it can leave you hanging--either because it was the author's intention to leave some things open for your interpretation or for thought, or because you're working on a sequel and you need something to carry you over to the next book.
I have a novel that I've been writing for over a year now. It was originally supposed to be one book, but it got a bit too long and so now I'm writing two books. This is fine and dandy, except I have reached The End of the first book.
I've not yet written The End. I've reached the last chapter, which means I have to write an ending. I have been struggling with how best to do this for the past couple of days. Every time I write something for the last chapter, it doesn't quite have the effect I want it to have. Nothing quite clicks, nothing quite works. If this book could have a happy ending, I would be all set, but alas, I am in that precarious place where I need to have some closure, yet have something drastic happen so that people will (hopefully) want to read the sequel.
I have considered many things. Character deaths! Kidnappings! Assassinations!
Except nothing seems to work.
I could go with a much calmer ending--just give the characters a little nudge on their way, except I kind of want this to go out with a bang. (This is not necessarily a metaphor: I have considered explosions, too.)
There are a lot of emotions that go into finishing a book. Part of me will be very relieved when this story is done and I can write the sequel. A sequel means exploring new paths, digging deeper into the characters, discovering that those characters have plans I've not yet uncovered. (And when I object to their plans, they will ignore me and do whatever they darn well please anyway.) It means jumping into the new unknown.
It means jumping into the unknown. O_O
For me, this is exhilarating and terrifying. I have to let go of a book that has been more work than anything I have ever written in my life. I have to walk from a plot that has been smoothed over a million times* into a plot that is going to be messy and unpredictable. I will have familiar characters to help me along the way, but it will still be work. Hard, hard work.
*this might be a slight exaggeration
At this moment, I want more than anything to have this book finished. I want The End, and I want it to help me start my next book. I just wish I knew how to best do that. Finish one book satisfactorily and build a bridge to the second book--it's not a lot to ask, right?