How to Discover the Expected Elements of Your Genre’s Book Endings

by | Creating, Writing

“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” —Orson Welles

by Quozio

by Quozio

 In an earlier post, I talked about backloading sentences, paragraphs, and scenes. Meaningful words at the end of these leave the reader with what’s important. And backloading leads the reader to continue reading.


  • Do we need to backload a novel’s ending with specific elements?
    click to tweet

We want the reader to read our next book, right? But how do we discover what elements are expected in the ending of a novel in our genre?

Because I write inspirational romances, I researched that genre. I also took a look at non-inspirational legal thrillers. You can do the same for your genre.


  • How to Discover the Expected Elements of Book Endings for a Genre
    click to tweet

♥ I gathered 50 inspirational romances. These included: historical, suspense, contemporary, prairie, regency, and humorous romances. Forty-seven unique authors were represented. I used 10 novels by different authors for a quick look at inspirational legal thrillers.

♥ I read the last 2 pages of the last chapters—not of the epilogues, which many included. I considered epilogues extra explanations and not the ends of the romances. The last 2 pages proved sufficient in showing what the novels left us with in the backloading sense.

♥ I noted the repetitions of elements among the novels.

Inspirational Romances

id-10075211.jpgRepeated elements from 50 novels:

♥ 100% had happy endings. Almost always a given in this genre.

♥ 76% spoke of God. This ran from a mention of God to praising God. Overwhelmingly, though, the element was characters praising God for changes in their character, in their lives, or in the person they’ve grown to love.

♥ 56% had the hero and heroine share a real kiss.

♥ 40% included a marriage proposal or a wedding. Some couples are married from the beginning. Or the story continues after the wedding or the proposal. Or we’re left with the assurance the relationship will grow.

♥ 36% issued noble last words. Although several summarize realized growth in the last 2 pages, this percentage applies to the last few words. Words about how the character is prepared to face the future or about new beginnings.

♥ 32% had at least one character say, “I love you.” Several mulled over or spoke of love, but in this percentage, the actual “I love you” words were spoken.

♥ 18% worked the title of the novel into the ending.


  • Consider these elements for effective book endings in inspirational romances.
    click to tweet

Remember, though, how well we write these elements determines how good they are.

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono /

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono /

Non-inspirational Legal Thrillers

For my sample of 10 novels, the emerging elements were:

  • Discussion of the outcome. This could be wrap-up explanations or talk of appeals or of additional legal actions. (7)
  • Discussions with or about the victim, the guilty person, or the innocent defendant. (6)
  • Hope for the future or hint of spiritual recognition. (5)
  • Moments of the main character’s personal life. Opposed to his legal life. (4)
  • New action, post-case development, or a gotcha. (4)
  • Discussion of the verdict’s accuracy. (3)

Readers or writers, what elements do you expect in the last pages of your preferred genres?

Newsletter Signup

Please subscribe to my newsletter, Zoe’s Zigzags, and receive a free short story.”

Author Zoe M. McCarthy Newsletter Signup

Follow Blog Via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3,836 other subscribers
-811Days -13Hours -29Mins -41Secs

American Christian Fiction Writers

American Christian Fiction Writers

You may also like


Pin It on Pinterest