The ending, when it's a romance, can be when the couple are ready to fully commit to each other. That might mean a wedding-- or not. Writers sometimes throw themselves into contortions trying to keep those two from getting together too soon. That is really unnecessary. The novel does not have to end with their coming together but might have another problem they must resolve before the happily ever after. That something else could be an emotional issue that suddenly arises or something threatening from outside them.
Generally the ending to my novels has been pretty easy for me to determine. There have seemed enough barriers to keep it happily/or unhappily moving along until the problem with the bad guy or outside issue has been resolved. That can mean, in the body of the story, the lovers get together, fight over a very real issue, leave each other, work it out and go through that a couple of times-- very much like it happens in a lot of real life relationships (yes, I speak from experience).
When reading someone else's work or writing my own, what I don't like is using a bogus issue to keep lovers apart. I want it to be some real problem in their personalities that makes them question whether a life together will work. Sometimes an outside issue can interfere making the happily ever after take awhile. But whatever it might be, my goal is always to make it feel as though-- yeah that's how mature people would handle it. I suppose if I was writing about immature people, it'd be otherwise, but as I mentioned before, I like to write about people I could respect if I knew them in real life.
When writing, I enjoy putting real life, small moments into my romances because they are fun to write. I suppose some readers might consider that makes them slow reads if they believe exciting action has to be happening all the time. My own favorite reads mix action with the kinds of happenings that revolve around maybe cooking a meal or weeding a garden. Those are things I like in what I read and likewise what matters to me in my own books.
The other night, we again watched Murphy's Romance, starring James Garner and Sally Fields. If you haven't seen it, it's a love story about a much younger woman and an older man. As I have thought before, this would probably be a book that a lot of romance readers wouldn't like as it develops slowly, and there are a lot of real life feeling moments not filled with action but part of developing the characters, building the mood and celebrating the pace of life. Then, by The End, the end seemed right. I am not sure writing romances like that works with today's readers, but it works for me when I find such a book.
What has led me to consider this question comes out of my own WIP as I began to ask-- where am I at in the resolution? Have I missed a bigger problem that originally I didn't see? For a little bit I was feeling worried. It seemed it was all working out too smoothly. That was only until I stepped back and saw the whole situation for what it really was and the writing resumed on track.
This particular story, which is set in an historical time period, appears to not tell as much of that historic time in Oregon as I had originally anticipated. That likely will mean a fourth book as I won't stretch this one beyond what feels right for these characters and their original dilemmas. If I do write a fourth book about that period in Oregon history, I'll use a third sister from the family, it's something I won't decide until I get this one to The End.
One thing I like about writing this blog is my writing always seems to give me topics that I can turn out pretty fast and get back to the problems in the novel. In terms of my own life and how it's going or the country as a whole, that's where I am stymied for what I want to say. I read, observe, have opinions, but not many I want to write about.