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Let's Talk Story Resolution

okay, so this thread has gotten me thinking about endings...and dragons. Both of which I have, but now I'm thinking it won't be satisfying. In chapter three, I introduce a legend about dragons, and in the first draft, they found the dragon in the end, and let it free. Bu that feels too predictable now, so I was going to do a bittersweet ending. They find the dragon, but it's dead. But there are three baby dragons among the corpse. They take the baby dragons and return them to a goddess who wanted the big dragon returned to her in the first place. Does that feel like a let-down?

Assuming I hadn't been misled by marketing to expect something wildly different, I could enjoy the ending you describe.

I read somewhere that when coming up with endings, you should discard the first two or three that you think of, as they are the most predictable ones. There may be threads in the story that you didn't think to draw on initially, which will lead you to a much more fitting and satisfactory story ending.
So, I think it depends on context. For example, in my WIP that I am editing I have a one chapter denouement. MC gets the girl and resolves some personal issues. We cut away from him as he is walking into a press conference where people are lauding him as a hero.

However, for another book I have planned the denouement will be short, not even a standalone chapter I don't think. It'll be the father who went on an epic quest to find and save his two-year-old picking up his son, reaching into a back pack, and giving his toddler his favorite blanket and holding him while the authorities storm in and see the carnage that he personally wrought on the bad guys.

For book 1 above we have a longer denouement because the problems are "longer." For book 2 it's poingancy is in its brevity, a father holding his son comforting the boy who had been this close (you can't see me but my fingers are really close right now) to being sacrificed to a god of magic and filled with some evil jujumugumbo demon is better than a long drawn out chapter of getting back to "normal."
This isn't a workaround, this is a version of precisely what I'm talking about. The book I just finished last night spared not even the slightest moment toward thinking about the aftermath and the future. I'm not necessarily asking for a whole chapter devoted to denouement or something like that. Even a paragraph of resolution would have been nice. But there was literally nothing.

"Workaround" was probably the wrong word. I had in mind an alternative to a long denouement or epilogue.

Basically, having some sense at the end of the story of what will follow the story or of the future condition of those characters (or world) is important to me. Their future doesn't need to be spelled out in great detail, but a feel, an understanding (in me) of the changed condition, is something I desire.

A lot of this could be set up before the actual climax. If we know the stakes and have a firm understanding of the form that failure will take, we might be able to surmise its alternative, success, when the climax happens. If we have a character who has operated from a feeling of being trapped by fate, and we have become intimately familiar with this character's situation, then when her success at the end frees her, we'll already have some feeling for her future.

Perhaps the negative cases simply don't provide that type of early development. (I.e., the characters can dream, plan a future after the climax, or imagine one, long, long before the end of the story.)

Edit: Of course, the form that the climax takes could itself hold all the keys to the future.
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I may have to think on this longer but I think one of the ways to make something meaningful is to show what it means to other characters. I think this is especially true with character deaths. But I suspect it is true with endings as well. There is a lot of struggle that goes into it, and the survivors need to be shown having some reaction or response to it. For an ending, I think particularly a reflection of the cost, the person or persons they have become, and what the struggle has meant for them and all they did it for. If its not present, the story may feel like just an action scene that was waiting to happen.

I do see the value in Malik's comment about finding the best place to pause before the next one, but I am not sure an end in a series is an end of the story. Though, I do think, even with episodic books in a series, there should be such. Without it, the book feels incomplete, and if I've invested as a reader, I want to know that those I have invested in have the same shared experience. Maybe I would just call it a completion of the immersive experience.