Thursday, September 27, 2018

How Endings Impact Your Readers

by Lisa Jordan, @lisajordan

Several years ago, while shopping with friends at Sam’s Club, we milled around the book/DVD section. One of my friends picked up a movie and showed it to another friend in our group since it had one of her favorite actors in it. We had discussed this movie when the trailers were first shown, but none of us had seen it yet. The friend who adores this actor said she refused to watch the movie because she had talked with friends who had seen the movie and were disappointed in the ending—the lead character died in a shocking way. The friend who brought the movie to our attention asked if the movie was any good, despite the ending. The other friend and I spoke at the same time, "Doesn't matter."

Have you ever read the ending of the book to see if you’re going to like how the story is resolved? I admit to being a second-generation ending reader. Sometimes I really try hard, especially while reading suspense, not to skip ahead because I like to guess whom the villain is and if I’m right.

I want a promise of hope and a happily ever after. Since I'm investing my heart in a story and the characters, I want a heart-satisfying conclusion. 

Quite a few years ago, I watched a movie based on a novel written by a popular secular author who writes love stories—notice I did not say romances—yes, there is a difference. I loved the movie’s storyline and adored the characters until I watched the ending with horror. 

My heart had been ripped out!

I sobbed and not in a good way. If I had been reading the book, I would've flung it across the room. I was that angry! I vowed never to read that author's books or view his movies again. I will admit I broke that vow after a friend promised one of his movies did have an HEA ending.

Endings affect the way a reader enjoys a novel. Some readers like me want the fairy tale and happily ever after. Other readers want a satisfying conclusion as long as the story is good. Of course, the novel genre influences the ending, too.  

Romances need to have a happily ever after where boy and girl fall in love and commit to a future. Women’s fiction novels need to have a satisfying ending for the character’s story arc. Suspense and mystery novels should have a solved crime at the end. The villain isn’t always caught, especially if the novel is part of a series, but most often, all loose ends should be tied up neatly for the reader. Fantasy and sci-fi novels should have a satisfying resolution to fit the story premise. Basically, the reader needs to have an answer for the proposed story question at the beginning of the novel.

What about you? Do you read endings first? What kinds of endings upset you? For you writers, what genre do you write and how do you know when you’ve written a satisfying ending?

Tweet: How Endings Impact Your Readers by @lisajordan #writing #amreading


Heart, home, and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan, so writing stories with those elements come naturally. Represented by Rachelle Gardner, Lisa is an award-winning author for Love Inspired, writing contemporary Christian romances that promise hope and happily ever after. She is the Operations Manager for My Book Therapy. Happily married to her own real-life hero for almost thirty years, Lisa and her husband have two grown sons. When she isn’t writing, Lisa enjoys family time, kayaking, good books, and playing in her craft room with friends. Visit her at


  1. I like happy endings, too. If I want bad news, I can watch the evening news. :) A good ending leaves a reader with hope—for the characters and themselves.

  2. Happy endings are the best way to end a romance. I agree with Lisa. There's enough bad news in the world. I like a book that leaves a smile on my face and a warm feeling in my heart.

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