Keep the End in Sight

While it’s important to have a strong, compelling beginning and an intriguing middle, the ending is one of the most crucial parts of the story.

When I was a high school English teacher I often gave my students the assignment to write an original, creative story. No blood, guts or gore. The main character must be alive at the conclusion, and they could not finish by simply writing, “The End”. It was not an easy task.

Think about a character whose story you would like to tell. Place him in the scene. Give her something that she wants so badly that she will do almost anything to achieve it. Come up with the antagonist, be it a character, an animal, a function of the weather or a natural disaster. It must be something that gets in his way, on more than one occasion, making it difficult for him to get what he wants.

Write that story, all the while thinking about how it will end. Does the protagonist reach happiness? Satisfaction? Or is she saddened at the end, depressed because she could not overcome the obstacles?

You cannot have her die in a fire or car accident. She cannot fall off the roof while stretching to catch that most valued possession.

You must think of an ending that leaves the reader somewhat discomfited. A tad mystified. Still mulling over what just happened and replaying it in his mind.

That’s the sign of a strong ending. The reader feels compelled to reread segments of the final paragraphs, to yearn for more.

When your story is over, how do you feel? Is it a sappy, predictable ending in which the heroine gets everything she wanted and more? Happily ever after? Is the hero confused, unsure, dissatisfied?

Are all your lose ends wrapped up? That’s probably one of the most important pieces to an ending. The reader understands what happened and is not left questioning where the antagonist went.

Good luck!

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