Did you know that when you started writing your story that you made a promise to the reader? You probably didn’t come right out and plainly state it, but you made it nonetheless. Have you ever read a book or watched a movie and thoroughly enjoyed it until you got to the end? Then finally, the climax and denouement and you either muttered it outloud or whispered it under your breath…”what a stupid story”.
What? You enjoyed the first 95% of the story? What went wrong?
The writer, in setting up the story, establishes an expectation of the outcome. We know, fairly soon, how the story should end. Most often the hero will overcome incredible odds or great suffering, or do some great thing that inspires or moves us, but in the end, he will triumph and we will be satisfied. Or, perhaps that won’t happen at all. Maybe we are watching or reading a tragedy, and the ending will be sad. It matters not. The writer, by the way the story is told, sets up an expectation for the ending.
How would we have felt if, at the end of Avatar, Jake had died? We would have felt cheated. How would we have felt if, at the end of Romeo and Juliet, the lovers had lived? We would probably have been confused, and frankly, again, cheated.
Don’t get to the end of your story and break the promise you made to the reader at the beginning. If you do, your readers will stop believing you.