On his blog about editing and proof-reading, Tom Gillispie has this to say about endings:
“What's the big deal about writing the end of a story?
The ending is as important as a headline, the lead or the mass in the middle. It supports and substantiates the rest of the story, and it's the last lingering (or not) memory that a reader takes from the story.”
Then he gives and example of an ending which I think lots of readers will know:
“What's a great ending? "Louie, this is the beginning of a great friendship," from Casablanca, is a great ending. I knew it the first time I saw it, more than 40 years ago, and everyone who has seen the movie will agree.”
Yes, indeed, a super ending and Tom is absolutely right. It set me off to check back on the endings which I have used. I'll not give the one from my novel Bunderlin because, well, because it's how the story ends. And I'm pretty happy with it. (So go out and buy the book, folks!)
How about this from my first book, an academic study of off-beat religious ideas? (Counting the Days to Armageddon) I had finished by suggesting the eventual possible decline of a well known movement on the Christian fringe and said that I didn't think that would represent simply the disappearance of an irrelevant nuisance. Here's what I did say:
“...it would represent the dispersal into the mainstream of an influence which has until now appeared too remote to cause concern.”
I guess I'm happy with that. It leaves the possibility of another chapter in the saga. But since then I've migrated to fiction – and my current novel deals with the personal difficulties in moving on from crazy and mind-numbing systems of belief.