One of the smartest things I ever heard about writing is that the end of your story should be surprising and inevitable.
What’s that? Surprising… and inevitable? Surely those are contradictory.
Well, sort of, yes. But you still have to do your best to hit them both. You’re going for an “Oh… of course!” moment. The ending shocks the reader, but then very quickly they begin putting it together with little facts and suggestions you’ve seeded along the way. The nagging feelings they’ve had about the characters are suddenly justified. Scenes that previously didn’t make a lot of sense now make plenty. Everything comes together.
It’s a hard thing to accomplish, and something I greatly admire. So I made a quick scan of my bookshelves and here is a list of books that really hit that note for me. It’s not long. If anyone else has some good ones, please post.
- The DaVinci Code, Dan Brown
- Speaker for the Dead, Orson Scott Card
- Life of Pi, Yann Martel
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling
- Lion in the Valley, Elizabeth Peters