Always involve main character in story ending

Among the big mistakes novice writers make is they don’t allow their protagonist to solve the story’s central problem.

A story always is structured around the main character overcoming some conflict that sets the tale in motion; this is the central problem. The bulk of the story focuses on how our hero attempts to resolve that problem and set the world right again. In the climax, he should do just that.

But what if instead of stopping the alien invasion, our protagonist serves merely a sidekick to a junior officer whose leadership and strategy achieves victory? What if instead of capturing the bank robber, another crook who wants revenge kills him rather than our police detective or Old West marshal taking him into custody? What if our heroine doesn’t find a way to work out differences with her beloved but instead his best friend talks him into setting aside his views so the two can be together forever?

Such endings are highly dissatisfying. Your readers have invested themselves emotionally in your protagonist, but these stories offer no payoff. It’s akin to a father who puts together a model that his son had bought and was excited to build on his own.

Never allow another character to do your protagonist’s work in the story’s climax. Even if the scene is tense and tightly written, you’ll undercut your readers’ trust in you as a writer.