We've talked before about Jack Bickham's brilliant exploration of scene-ending "answers"-- that is:
Does she get her scene goal?
Yes, but (something unexpected also happens)
No, and furthermore (something even worse than failure happens)
(Notice that "yes, she gets her goal for the scene and that's all" isn't one of the answers... why not?)
So I mentioned this to a student (Lindsey), and she took off running with it, pulling out some of her favorite books in her subgenre and analyzing the ending. She writes romantic comedy/chick lit, and she found that the successful books in that subgenre she examined tended to have most scenes end with "yes, but." Yes, she got her goal, but something unexpected happened!
Lindsey thought this scene ending might especially be useful in a comedy (so "yes," that is, it's light and generally the characters are going to get what they want, but also "but" to disorient the character and create conflict and additional plot events).
I notice that "danger" books, like adventure, suspense, and thriller, might have mostly "no, and furthermore" scene endings as they take the character (and reader) into progressively greater risk and disorientation.
What do you think? "Disorientation" is key to both of those, notice. Why? To keep the character (and reader) on her toes.
That's something to keep in mind if the book seems static or the pacing is slow. Maybe we have too many scenes ending "yes" or "no," without the additional thrust added by the unpredicted "but/furthermore."
What about your type of book? Do you see anything notable about scene endings?
Off to check scene endings in fave books....