The Predictable Ending

When we read a book we like to guess how it is going to end. We want something logical, that makes sense based upon the action.

On the other hand, we also like to be surprised. We may enjoy the predictable, but we are startled when everything we thought was going to happen, does not.

So what do you do as a writer? If you stay with predictable, will your readers lose interest? Possibly. Why not try for an unexpected ending, something that readers don’t see coming. Even if your story doesn’t have a major twist in plot, there could be a shift that takes the readers in a direction that they couldn’t imagine.

Your task is to take something that you have written, a finished piece that maybe isn’t quite working the way you wanted, and change the ending. Instead of the butler doing it, maybe it was the car-share driver. Instead of getting the dream job, she gets hired to do something unrelated, but enjoyable.

The important thing is that your new ending must be satisfying. It must be justified by all that has happened in the story and therefor supported by the narrative.

Once you have rewritten the ending, reflect upon your work. Is it more satisfying? Does the surprise change the narrative so that predictability is altered? Hopefully you will discover something new in the process.

Have fun with this one.

Surprise Twists

Stories that are too predictable are boring unless they are written for a little kid. Children find the repetition, the expected end result, comforting in a way that teens and adults might find downright unsatisfactory.

When you’re crafting a story, watch your endings. It’s okay if the good woman wins, but along the way there should be unexpected twists that throw the reader off.

For example, you know the woman will fall in love with the account executive, but put some angst in the story. Maybe they disagree over something huge, like how to behave at a party or how to dress for a day at the beach. The woman overdresses while the man underdresses.

That’s probably not big enough to cause angst. What if a former girlfriend shows up? Imagine the problems that would create. The man looks at her with a sparkle in his eye. Maybe he touches her in a way that implies their former romance. The current girlfriend sees it, becomes enraged and stomps away.

Maybe the woman loves the man, but he has no intentions of leaving his home while she’s been offered a job in New York City. The job is almost too big to pass up as it’s the job she’s always wanted. Maybe the city where the man lives is so tiny that the woman can’t find a comparable job within commuting distance.

How do they reconcile the differences?

Readers will want to know, and so will read on.

Your task is to pull up an old story of yours. Reread it looking for the surprise twist. If there is none, what can you add to ratchet up the tension?

If there is, how long did you string the tension along before resolving the issue? Make sure that there is sufficient angst to make readers edgy.

Have fun with this one!