QUICK FIX: Endings – the end is nigh, or is it?
(Writers’ Forum, December 2007)
Endings can be tricky. Some people like to write a story with a clear view of the end in sight, whilst others wait to see what happens when they get there. Either way is fine, but to make a story satisfactory the ending must work.
Endings have a variety of functions. Some tie everything up neatly and conclude the story so that everything is resolved, whilst others can be ambiguous, leaving the reader to work things out for themselves. Endings can be happy, sad, poignant, amusing, thought-provoking or have a twist-in-the-tale.
Although the climax of a story occurs about two-thirds of the way through, don’t allow it to gently drift downhill to the end. Remember to keep the reader enthralled to the very last word of your story, and if your ending provokes a laugh, a tear or a thoughtful smile, then it’s done its job.
• Link an image at the end back to an image used at the beginning. This can reflect the way your character has moved on or changed perspective during the story
• If you are aiming for an emotional ending go for a strong and poignant final image
• Twist-in-the-tale stories need the punch line at the very end – the last line if possible
• Write five endings – then write the stories leading up to them
• Take five first lines from previous stories and turn them into endings
The end of your story might be nigh, but a good ending should keep the story in your reader’s mind for some time afterwards.