Authors will tell you that a book should have a satisfying end.
But just what is a “satisfying end”?
As a reader, I think of it as a conclusion that leaves me feeling that everything worked out as it “should.” The guy gets the girl, the man gets a promotion, the marriage is saved, the woman beats cancer, the cops catch the killer.
The reader is satisfied.
But, what if we try to answer the question from the author’s point of view?
What if the outcome is not popular with his readers? Maybe it is not a socially acceptable ending, touts a particular political viewpoint that the majority of readers just cannot agree with, or the ending is a cliffhanger that doesn’t answer “Who done it?” or leaves readers scratching their heads and wondering “what happened?”
What if they just don’t “get it?”
Readers are left sad, angry, or frustrated that they just spent five hours reading something that didn’t end the way they had hoped.
Readers pay “good money” for our books and deserve to get whatever the author promised on the back cover and/or in their marketing. Writers create certain expectations in their readers’ minds and—as much as possible—we need to meet them.
A good author delivers.
And, a great author exceeds expectations.