The End of the Story

… it is the end of a story that I find far more of a challenge, assuming we have written a story gripping enough to keep a reader through the entire book.

Andy Frazier

To Begin

An amount of time in our writer’s group, and I suspect in a few others, is allocated to discussing how a story should begin, in a way it would attract a reader to turn to page two. This is generally something I for one find reasonably simple, as long as a situation and at least one or more characters arrive with interest. 

To end

To me, it is the end of a story that I find far more of a challenge, assuming we have written a story gripping enough to keep a reader through the entire book. So many books and, even more so, TV dramas end in a disappointing manner. In a previous group meeting we discussed this subject, and at the time I raised several questions as to what is or perhaps not acceptable. Does a reader demand closure? Yes, of course so. Does the ending need to be a massive crescendo? Well, not necessarily.   

Not to disappoint

One of our members suggested it needs to be a cliff-hanger, so a sequel can be tagged on later. This is a great idea but, of course, would only apply if a sequel was forthcoming, otherwise it becomes a cop out. 

One assumes that the story has a conflict within it and this should always be resolved at the end, even if a sequel is on the cards. 

Matters of opinion

Some writer’s clinics suggest that the author should know the ending before you even start writing. I disagree with this. In my last book even I didn’t know who did it until I wrote the final few chapters, and in that way lay surprise for myself as well as the reader. How could they possibly suspect, if I didn’t even know?

There is also the what/if ending where what actually happens is open to interpretation by the reader but this tends to be more for books that are trying to put over a message rather than purely to entertain. Assuming they are reading their preferred genre, the reader will be left thinking about the book for a few days to come, running a variety of scenarios through their mind until they are comfortable with one of them. 

One of the more common endings is to return back to where the book started. I have used this a number of times by creating a prologue of a couple of pages at the beginning before starting the actual story, so I have somewhere to go back to. Again this is often used in films and TV.

Resolution

A surprise ending is usually more palatable than a predictable one, but this comes with its warnings, that somewhere in the story, perhaps in a few places, the reader has been passed a subtle hint. In my case I had to backtrack and add these in the edit.  

I think most importantly, as well as getting closure, the protagonist should have somehow benefited from the final act, whether growing from its experience or at least learning from it.

Logic

Finally, I believe the ending should make sense and this is where the difficulty lies, not just with myself but with many authors. In a scenario where sub-plots collide at the end, as they often do, there must be a decent element of logic so the reader can understand why what happened, happened. Otherwise they will feel short changed and I for one would certainly like to sell them another of my books.

© Andy Frazier – May 2022

One thought on “The End of the Story”

  1. A great wee piece, Andy. It brings together all the themes we have been discussing. Food for thought for anyone’s next venture!

    Like

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