Did the ending come too soon or not fast enough after the climax? I know the writer has a certain latitude before we give the reader their catharsis, but I beginning to think it's a more of a feeling than a technique.
If Alicia or Theresa have any hints, I'd love to hear it!
Well, it all depends on the individual story, of course. But in general, yes, most novels tend to end better with a resolution or coda scene rather than smack after the climax.
Now a lot depends on what your story conflicts are. If it's a fast-paced, entirely plot-driven story, and you've got the murder solved or the quest fulfilled in the climax scene, the reader might not care to have the story drag on. "We're done! Leave me alone already!" is not the last thought you want the reader to have.
Also beware of the perpetual ending, where you just drag on and on after the climax, resolving one subplot, and then another. One scene after the climax is usually sufficient. Truth is, most or all subplots should be resolved in the rush towards the climax. (Watch Casablanca and see how the 6 or 8 subplots are resolved on the way to the romantic/external climax, leaving only the internal conflict-- Rick's alienation-- to be solved in the short coda after the climax.)
There has come a trend in Hollywood called "You always kill the dragon twice." That is, there's a false climax where the hero/ine THINKS the dragon (or external conflict) is resolved, but noooooooo. Here it comes again! Right over that building! Miraculously alive! Must slay it again!
It's a cheap shot of adrenaline, and less and less effective now that we watch the first kill and think cynically, "The dragon's not really dead." If you must do this, make the two kill scenes dissimilar in several important ways, like use a different setting and a different method the second time.
Okay. Resolution scene. Don't think, "What threads have I not knotted up?" Think instead of the ending as resolving the major conflicts. So the climax usually resolves whatever you've set up as the external conflict-- that's what the climax is for. She solves the murder, or he wins the gold medal, or they save the king's son. Ta-da! What's left? Well, presumably, if this is a character-driven story, the protagonist has an internal journey to complete (to forgive Dad, to show trust in the future, to abandon materialism, whatever). THAT is usually a great, satisfying way to end a book, to show that the protagonist is changed by the events of the book and does in fact complete the journey. (Sometimes this is also a great place to resolve any remaining romantic or interactional conflict-- but remember, often what is holding him back from really loving is that internal conflict, so determine which has to be resolved first.)
If you have more than one scene after the climax, think about combining the events into one resolution scene. If he needs to make up with his sister AND say a final goodbye to his late father AND decide to move back to the hometown, well, how about he goes to Dad's cemetery, and there by Dad's grave, he says goodbye, and turns to leave, and there is his sister, and they kiss and hug, and she offers to cook him dinner before he leaves town, and he says, oh, I'm not leaving-- can I bunk on your couch for a few days till I find a house of my own?
End of story. Smiles and sighs all round.
(And I am NOT a fan of the "we're having a baby!" epilogue so popular in romances. If, I think, the reader isn't convinced by the story that they're going to be happy together, an epilogue of them beaming at each other over her belly won't help. But I realize I'm in the minority on this... just please don't make it TOO treacly. Make it reflect who they are as a couple. If they've wisecracked like Grant and Russell for 300 pages, they're not going to turn into simpering fools in the last scene, are they?)