Last Monday, Erynn so fabulously posted about starting your novel. Today I'd like to post on finishing it! Both steps are equally exciting, though one perhaps is significantly more relieving! ;)
When it comes to leaving a great "The End" in your red-eyed, chocolate crumbed, post-novel wake, think Silas Marner.
Yeah, if you read that book in high school English too, then I'm sorry for the shock and horror that just raced through your body in memory. But if you haven't, then Silas Marner is this (terrible) classic novel about an older man who is considered crazy by the villagers because he lives/hides in the woods and has all kinds of family drama. My point, however, is that he is a weaver. He weaves on a loom (and yes, my also-considered-crazy english teacher made us as 10th graders BUILD A LOOM and WEAVE IN SCHOOL during class for a WEEK. No, I'm not still bitter. Okay, maybe a little)
You have to weave to have a good ending in your novel.
To avoid a cliche, forced, contrived or cheesy ending, think about the threads you wove throughout or if you must, go back at the end and weave one that you suddenly recognized would be amazing. It's never too late ;)
Weaving means playing on key words you used throughout, key themes, key elements, even a subplot or something as simple as an inside joke between the characters that was mentioned just enough times to be recognized by the reader and give them that warm reaction when you they catch it. Another great way to weave and bring the story full circle at the end is to incorporate the title into the character's dialogue or internal thoughts at that last paragraph.
It's also important to avoid a rushed ending. You don't want things wrapping up so quickly the reader rolls their eyes and mutters "apparently they realized on page 201 that the book had to end on page 205".
But it's just as important not to drag out an ending. You don't want the reader feeling as if the story actually ended on page 215 and yet somehow, there's another 10-20 pages to muddle through. You've been there on both sides as readers, I'm sure, so you understand those feelings and how you want to avoid that :)
Any questions on endings? :)