How to Fix Your Story Endings
Do you ever have trouble writing story endings?
Often, when people have trouble writing an ending, it's because the story doesn't have a clear conflict.
Stories are structured around conflicts, or problems. For example, here are three possible story problems:
- John loves Judy, but Judy hates John.
- Steve wants a puppy, but his parents say no.
- Eleanor's town is under attack by vampires.
The story problem gives your story a focus. It gives the main character something to do. And it gives the reader a reason to keep turning pages -- the reader wants to find out if the character will succeed in overcoming the problem or not.
During the course of the story, the character struggles to overcome the main problem. In the process, new problems or obstacles may arise, and the character will have to deal with those too.
The ending of the story shows the results of the character's struggle.
- Does John win Judy's heart?
- Does Steve find a way to get his puppy?
- Does Eleanor get rid of the vampires and save her town?
These are the questions that readers will want answered.
The story ending doesn't always have to hand readers everything in a neat package. Especially in short stories, you might choose to HINT at the results of the struggle instead of laying them all out.
You could end your story with John and Judy's wedding day. But maybe you don't want to go that far. Maybe you'll end with just a gesture, a look, a few words from Judy that show that she's reconsidering her feelings about John.
The first ending might work better if you're writing a romance novel. The second ending might work better in a literary short story.
But both endings show a change in the character's situation in regards to his main problem. Something has happened between the beginning of the story and the end. And readers feel that their time has been rewarded.
So if you're having trouble coming up with a story ending, ask yourself: What is my character's main problem in this story?
If you don't know the answer, you need to go back and develop your story idea a bit more.
- Come up with something that your character really wants, a story goal.
- Come up with a major problem or obstacle in your character's path.
Think about what actions your character will take to overcome the problem and reach his goal. And think about what new problems or obstacles might arise along the way, and how your character will react to those.
Your character's struggle against the problem will give you your story structure. And it will lead naturally to an ending, whether it's a sad one (the character fails) or a happy one (the character succeeds).
Story Endings - Next Steps
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