Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Denouement

I think you're probably all familiar with the term 'denouement'. Simply put, it's a wrap-up at the end of a book. Often an epilogue or in place of an epilogue, it's generally where in a few pages or a chapter (or two, depending on how much stuff you need to wrap up), you give your readers closure.

I'm a huge fan of closure. As a reader, I want to know what happens to the characters after the climax has occurred. I want to make sure the characters are going to be all right after I close the book. After reading all those pages, I have a vested interest in knowing these things. Even if it's just to know they'll be happy for a little while.

So, as a writer, I want to give my readers the closure I desire. I like to hook on a little wrap up at the ends of my books. Do the hero and heroine get together? (Since I don't write romance, that part is usually open to interpretation after the climax.) Does the villian and his evil band of henchmen get what's coming to them? Do the horrible things that have happened during the course of the book resolve themselves in some positive way? I may do cliffhanger-esque chapter endings, but I never cliffhang the end of a book. As a reader, I hate not knowing.

Tell me. As a reader, do you need the closure of a denouement? As a writer, do you feel you have to give your readers an end they can be content with? Or would you rather just leave it open to interpretation?

7 comments:

Wendy Roberts said...

There are times when I really need to know everything worked out, however, I don't like everything too neat and tidy. I guess there are times when I'm a fan of the realistic ending and times when I really need the sappy riding off into the sunset moment :)

Edie said...

I do like the wrap up, but I've read too many stories where they show them months later, the woman pregnant or holding a baby, and everyone is so thrilled about it. For anyone reading this, please don't do this unless it's important to the plot. It's been done too often already.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah,

I want closure, I want to know these people I've come to care about are going to be happy and in love months after the last page is turned.

But like Edie, the woman pregnant or holding a baby has been done to death, and I'd close the book on a rather disgusted note then. . . of course there are always exceptions to this. . .

Theresa

WordVixen said...

I need closure on the important things (like Wendy said). If the author took the time to put in something interesting, and then leaves you hanging at the end of a book or series *coughJKRowlingcough*, it drives me up a wall. Small things left unraveled are good for keeping the book in the reader's memory, but big things also keep the book in the reader's memory. And not in a good way.

Kristen Painter said...

I like an epilogue. Everyone enjoys a little closure, I think.

Alex Adams said...

I'm not a fan of air-fairy endings. I need to know what happens, good or bad. Gimme closure!

Janimé said...

I vote for closure. Tidy things up for me prett please.

And as others have mentioned already, there are good ways to do that and not so good ways to do that.