They are two of the most welcome words to type (or write) for any writer: "The End". You've done it. It's finished. Cue the champagne. But, how have you done it? Is every end neatly tied into a bow or are there a couple loose threads? Evil has been vanquished, but is it coming back? Different genres call for different endings.
The Big Bow (with really nice ribbon)
These endings are the traditional "happily ever after". Every problem has been resolved, all misunderstanding are cleared up. Our hero has triumphed, our villain is in chains, our happy couple eagerly moving on into their brilliant and love-filled future. Cue the orchestra.
The Small Bow (with thin ribbon)
These endings are interesting. Right has prevailed over wrong (of course) but something nasty is still lurking out there. Not every plot has been resolved leading the reader to wonder what's going to happen next. An example of this type of ending can be found in "Silence of the Lambs"; the serial killer is apprehended and our heroine is safe, but guess who's still out there? All the Harry Potter books (except for the last one, of course) also end with a Small Bow.
No Bow (and no ribbon)
These types of endings seem to be typical in the second book of trilogies. Huge plot lines are left unresolved and the main characters are wondering how they will ever complete their journey. Personally, I find these ending highly annoying unless I can immediately start reading the third and final book.
In my writing I swing between option number one and option number two, depending on the material. When I'm writing to provide pure entertainment, I opt for the Big Bow. However, more complex characters seem to demand a more complex ending. After all, not every question is answered in real life. I am predicting my current WIP will end with a Small Bow.
What type of ending do you prefer as a writer? Is it the same type of ending you prefer as a reader?