What does your main character need to change? First you need to know what kind of change your character needs.
That’s where I was lacking a little bit. My ending was fuzzy – I figured I would figure it out when I got there – but it included a kind of intellectual awakening for my main character. The problem? He’s already an intellectual guy. He’s an INTP (blog post on using Myers-Briggs for writing characters coming soon), which means that he’s brilliant and has incredible ideas, but is quite lacking on the social/emotional side. The whole intention of a novel is to have your main character change and evolve into someone they need to be.
So an intellectual awakening for an already intellectual guy doesn’t work.
As I approached the last act of the book, I suddenly thought about an alternate ending I could write. It would involve a huge emotional shift in the book, and I almost didn’t want to write it, because I knew the depth of challenge it would involve for not only my characters, but for me writing it. I did a pro/con list of whether this new ending would work, but I soon knew very well that I needed to do this other ending.
Because it would provoke my character not to an intellectual awakening, but an emotional awakening. Which is exactly what he needed.
How in tune are you to your characters? Do you know what kind of awakening they need, what kind of push they need to become who they need to be? Don’t back off from writing the challenging ending just because it’s harder. Throw something difficult in where you character needs to make a decision to either run or stand, and then you’ll have something worth reading.