Self-Editing Tip: Effective Story Endings.

Effective Endings

Effective story endings don’t merely satisfy the reader. It awes them.
An unforgettable ending will immediately make the reader want to re-read the book from the beginning. It will leave the reader chewing on the last scene long after closing the book. If your ending is effective, it will hook the reader into buying and reading your next book.

So, how do you create such an ending? What are the types of endings you can weave into your story? Let’s discuss.

Types of Story Endings:

The Happily Every After

In this ending, the author explains what happens to the characters in the future by following their lives. It is a way to tie up loose ends. These endings can sometimes feel rushed, so remember to foreshadow each character’s story arc.

Also, it doesn’t mean the ending has to be happy. Even if you’re leaving the reader heartbroken with a bittersweet ending, remember that it has to ‘feel’ right.

The Surprise

In this type of ending, the author switches up the story and take the readers by surprise. These ending are especially popular in Mystery or Thriller genres and are sometimes referred to as the ‘twist.’

Remember that though these endings are unexpected, they must make sense upon reflection. Again, there should be plenty of foreshadowing throughout the story for the twist to make sense.

The Cliffhanger

This ending is used when an author doesn’t want to reveal everything about the character because they have a sequel in mind. It seems like the close of a chapter and gets the reader excited about the next.

But these are also the most controversial of all endings, especially because they are so hard to do well. If you are not careful, you’ll make the reader feel cheated instead of satisfied, especially more so if you’re a new writer and the reader doesn’t know when (or if) you’ll write the sequel!

The best way to create a cliffhanger ending is to tidy up all the plot points so the reader is satisfied, but let them know that a lot more is coming the character’s way.

The Perfect Loop

This type of ending brings the reader back to the opening line/scene and feels like their journey has come full circle. This ending requires planning and editing to feel authentic instead of forced.

The Moral

Sometimes, the last paragraph or the last line sums up what the author wanted to convey to the reader all along. Remember not to sound preachy though!

Now, let’s discuss how to craft a satisfying ending that ‘wows’ the reader.

How to Write Effective Story Endings.

Effective Story Endings are Born from the Story’s Conflict.

The conflict gives readers the reason to keep turning the pages of the book. In the end, the readers expect a payoff. They want to know the answer to the question you have been asking.

Effective Story Endings are a Result of the Character’s Actions.

Yup. Your character’s actions. Things you described in the beginning and middle of your story. Not hand of God. No deus ex machina, which, by the way, is the topic I will cover for X.

Endings are much more satisfying if the character makes them happen. The character faces the conflict head-on and a battle ensues. Maybe they’ll win or maybe they won’t. Either way, the reader is there to cheer them on. Now, wouldn’t they feel cheated if the fight were ‘fixed?’

Satisfying Story Endings Make the Reader Feel.

Happy. Heartbroken. Pensive. Thrilled.

If you bring your characters and the conflict to life between the pages, the readers will care.

Here’s a cool poster to help you remember.

Effective Story Endings

Further Reading

The Last Fifty Pages: The Art and Craft of Unforgettable Endings by James Scott Bell.

Elements of Fiction Writing: Beginnings, Middles and Ends by Nancy Kress.

What kind of ending do you like best? Do you ever face problems while crafting your endings? Let me know in the comments.

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Next up on the blog: F for Find & Replace.
– Dola.

Self-Editing Tip: Dialogues in Fiction

Editing dialogues in fiction

Dialogues in fiction writing is a vast topic. So much so, that whole books have been written on this topic. It would’ve been a folly to cover everything about dialogues in a single blog post, so I thought of giving you a handy checklist instead–something you can use every time you sit down with your red pen to edit dialogues in your fiction manuscript. Here it is:

Dialogue in Fiction: A Checklist

  • Dialogue in fiction has three purposes: increase tension, advance plot, and reveal character. If your dialogue doesn’t do either of these, cut it off.
  • Use dialogue to miscommunicate. Have characters lie. What is left unsaid or hinted at increases conflict.
  • Give your characters different voices. Have them chose different words, and speak with varying rhythms and styles. Make sure not all the characters in your book sound alike. Use appropriate words for your character, for example kids speak differently than adults.
  • Don’t explain everything. Dialogue isn’t like real world conversation.
  • Dialogue isn’t fluff; it’s important communication between characters.
  • Avoid repetition of character names after each uttered sentence. What’s being said should be distinct enough to leave no doubt as to who’s speaking. That said, if the dialogues go on for some length, use character names here and there so as not to leave your reader confused.
  • Keep your dialogues tight. In real life, people hesitate, use words like ums and ers. In fiction, skip these pointless words.
  • Allow characters to speak over one another, cutting off each other’s words. Just like it happens in real life.
  • Limit dialogue tags to the basics of said and asked.
  • Don’t have pages and pages of dialogue. Alternate it with action, description, and narration. Don’t permit characters to speak at length without interruption, whether it’s by another character or an action or some description. Give the characters some actions while they speak.
  • Don’t use dialogue to preach your pet message.
  • And, Punctuate dialogue correctly.

Here’s an infographic that you can download to help you remember correct punctuation for dialogues.

Punctuating Dialogue.

Further Reading:

  1. Dialogue: The Art of Verbal Action for Page, Stage, and Screen by Robert McKee.
  2. How to Write Dazzling Dialogue: The Fastest Way to Improve Any Manuscript by James Scott Bell.
  3. Writing Vivid Dialogue: Professional Techniques for Fiction Authors (Writer’s Craft Book 16) by Rayne Hall.
  4. Internal Dialogue (Busy Writer’s Guides Book 7) by Marcy Kennedy.
  5. Self-Edit Your Fiction Like a Pro. Get your free copy by subscribing to my newsletter.

Some writers excel at writing dialogues. Others have to work really hard to get it just right. Which category are you in? Let me know in the comments.

Coming up: E for Endings. Stay tuned.
– Dola.