Five Story Endings

J. L. Harland   •   May 31st, 2020

So, you’ve written your story and it’s all finished and ready to go. We’ve been talking about how story endings can be just as problematic as the beginning. You want to leave your reader satisfied with the conclusion but also thinking about the characters. For example, if you’ve written a whodunnit you need to make sure that the clues leading to the ending are planted throughout the story so that the reader doesn’t feel cheated. In a similar way, a romantic story needs a happy ending – or does it? In some stories the lovers part at the end.

It’s always a good idea, before you commit words to screen or paper, to plan how the story will end. In that way you have a clear focus in mind. We find this invaluable when writing together. Planning comes into its own when you are writing with someone else although things do not always go to plan.

This week we thought we’d give you some story endings to try out. How did the story start and how did it reach this conclusion? Is this really the end or could it lead to a sequel? Does the story ending echo the beginning? Does it tell you anything new? Is it unexpected or predictable? Some things to think about as you try these exercises.

1.  As the boat drifted along the shore, Lauren wiped away a tear. Parting was never easy.

So – who has Lauren parted from? Where is she? How did she get there?

2.  Tomorrow he would start afresh. New city, new life.

Who is he? What is his job? Why does he want to start again? Choice or forced to leave wherever he is now?

3.  The snow continued until everything was hidden – until the spring.

Using the weather gives atmosphere. What season does the story start in? Why is it important to hide? What is hidden?

4.  At last the house felt like it belonged to them and the future looked bright.

What had happened to make them feel they didn’t belong? What disasters had they had to overcome? Who had lived in the house before or what other problems had they overcome?

5.  ‘We’ll come back next year, I promise.’

Who is making the promise? Why? Where is the story set? Who is he or she making the promise to? A child? A lover?

We hope these exercises will give you some food for thought. Having the end in sight before you start writing can be helpful. Of course, your characters may have other ideas and take you on a completely different pathway.

Have fun and keep writing.