‘Do you prefer it when all the loose ends are tied up in a novel or do you like to be left with a mystery?’ Recently I asked this question on Twitter and lots of bookish people were kind enough to share and reply. It’s an interesting topic and I thought I’d share the general gist of the responses with you. It might also be helpful to others like myself who are planning their next novel.
- Many readers prefer a neat ending to a book, with all the loose ends tied up. That’s understandable and probably results in a more satisfying ending, particularly because it’s expected for certain genres.
- In the context of a series, loose ends are OK as they make you want to read the next instalments, but the last book in the series should have all of the mysteries solved.
- Unsolved mysteries should have a purpose, not just be there for the sake of being mysterious as that would be annoying. By not providing all the answers, a skilful author will make you question or think more deeply about something.
- If fiction is to reflect real life, then it’s more effective to have a few loose ends. Of course, if we prefer cosy or escapist reading then it makes sense to read something which is neatly resolved to give that warm feeling.
- It’s OK to leave some of the minor mysteries out there but the main issue needs resolving, or else the reader feels cheated, as if the author couldn’t be bothered to work it out properly.
- Not wrapping the story up is riskier because it’s more difficult to do that successfully. It’s a safer option (although it can seem contrived) to ensure there are no loose threads.
- Readers would prefer to have some kind of resolution – even if it’s an unexpected one – rather than no resolution at all. They also want some things left to their interpretation, rather than being spoon-fed the information.
- A number of readers simply said it depends on the book! Leaving unsolved mysteries might be what felt right to the author at the time and was what seemed most natural for the story direction.