Sunday, September 13, 2015

Writers, how do you end your story?

Finding the end of a story can be as challenging for a writer as finding the end of this mess is for a knitter...

photo by Leanne Dyck

Sometimes I've cut a story short--ending it before the ending. Other times I've written on and on and on, well past the end. 

How can I learn to recognize the end of my story?

Determined to answer this question, I searched for a solution. I found this strategy...

Who ever it was, when ever it was, this wise writer advised me to find the story question. She said that it would be at the beginning of my story. For example, she continued to explain, in a mystery, your story question is who shot the victim. In a romance, your story question is, will the protagonist find love? After locating the question, search for the answer. The answer will be located at the end of your story. End your story after answering the question.

The end is the resolution of the problem that you introduced in one of the first two chapters...
-Bob Mayer 

For more on this strategy, please clink this link:  What's my story question?

photo by Leanne Dyck

Okay, so, what if your problem isn't finding the end of your story, but rather how to end it? 

Well, in her book First Draft in 30 Days, Karen S. Wiesner offers the following advice...

1. A pivotal, life-changing event occurs...
2. Characters modify short-term goals one last time...
They know exactly what they have to do now, and absolutely nothing can stop them from doing it...
3. The Showdown Begins...
The main character and opposition come fact to face, there's no hiding...
4. The opposition is vanquished and the conflict ends...
5. The story goal is achieved
6. Characters react to the resolution of the plot and subplot
7. Characters revise their life goals
8. Possible reemergence of the conflict of thrillers, horror novels and mysteries.
photo by Leanne Dyck

In his book, The Novel Writer's Toolkit:  A guide to writing great fiction and getting it published, Bob Mayer advises...

'Study endings as much as you study beginnings. The most important thing about the ending is to close out your main story line and all your subplots. Don't have the reader guessing... [T]he climax is not the same as the resolution. The climax ends the crisis. The resolution explains how the crisis is over and also lays out the effect on the characters who now go on.' 
photo by Leanne Dyck

-Don't introduce any new characters or subplots

-Don't describe, muse, explain or philosophize

-Do create that sense oh, wow! 'Your best novelties and biggest surprises should go here.'

-Do enmesh your reader deeply in the outcome

-Do resolve the central conflict

-Do afford redemption to your heroic character

-Do tie up loose ends of significance

-Do mirror your final words to events in your opener

-Don't change voice, tone or attitude

-Don't resort to gimmicks

The End

photo by Leanne Dyck

Next Post:  What happens when I write poetry? Find out next week. 

Sharing my author journey...

Question:  When is a rejection letter not a rejection letter?
Answer:  When it inspires you to write on.
Please allow me to explain...

Recently, I received a "no" from a publishing house. A "no" accompanied by these words...
'[W]e reviewed your book with interest and were very much intrigued with the idea... We encourage you to continue to seek publication for your writing.'
The only thing better than those words is your continuous support. We've come along way together. And I promise, we have much farther to go.
Will I submit to them again?
Excuse me while I work on their next submission.


Darlene said...

I love the dos and don´ts. I am working on the ending of my next book as we speak. This helps. Thanks!

Leanne Dyck said...

Hi Darlene,
Congratulations on working on reach the end of the next book. I know I love that stage in the process. And happy to hear that this post helped.
What helped me the most was the words about finding the story question. That one piece of advice has helped me so much with not only the ending but the beginning of each story I write. Kind of like finding a great recipe. : )

Laurie Buchanan said...

Leanne — A terrific keeper! I love the resource list of how you should/shouldn't end a book.

Leanne Dyck said...

Thank you for your comment, Laurie. Happy to hear that you found this post helpful.