The Importance of the Ending

Did you ever finish a story and then scratch your head, thinking, what the heck? The characters were compelling, the setting beautifully described, the plot intriguing, but the end did not resolve a thing.

You wonder what’s going on with the characters, whether or not they get married and live happily ever after. Or if the kingdom has been saved or the fugitive captured.

It’s a frustrating experience for a reader, to get to the last word on the final page of a book and be left with more questions than she had when she opened the book.

You’ve got to give as much attention to the end as you do to the opening lines.
A good ending offers resolution of some kind. Yes, the character can die, but it isn’t a good idea to kill off all of your characters in every story. A cathartic experience that alters a character’s perspective brings closure, even if the character does not change in a positive way. Likewise, capturing the killer(s) and seeing them go to jail leaves a pleasant taste.

Your task is to look at one of your stories from beginning to end. Better yet, ask a friend to read it for you. When he is finished, ask about how he feels, about whether or not he is satisfied and fulfilled. If he is, then great. If not, ask what he would like to see happen to bring resolution.

If you don’t have a reader, pretend that you are seeing the words for the first time. When you get to the final paragraphs, look for conclusions. The action is complete, the character has solved whatever issues was at hand, and there is nothing more to be said.

One other thing that you can do is to write multiple endings. Try them all out and see which one brings the greater sense of relief.

Have fun with this one.

Good luck.

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