Learning how to end a story effectively is even more important than learning how to start it.
Both the beginning and the end of a fictional work have a huge impact on the satisfaction of the reader. If the beginning of your story is weak or uninteresting, you run the risk of people dropping your book before it even starts. But many readers are willing to hold out, even if the opening of a story doesn’t really suit their taste. A strong midsection and climax can overcome any initial disappointment.
But what if your story ends poorly?
Since it is the last experience readers have before they put your book down, it will leave a lasting impression. Most people don’t end books with the books they start reading. Those who do are the most invested readers of those who chose your book. It makes sense that they will be severely disappointed with an unsatisfactory conclusion.
So how can you write an ending to your story that will satisfy readers?
Here are six types of stories that are tried and tested, along with some general tips on how to end a story correctly.
6 ideas to consider in order to end a story
End your story neatly and tidily
Sometimes the best way to end a story is to offer a clear resolution that neatly connects any loose ends and plot points.
If you’ve ever felt that an action was forgotten or ignored, you will know how irritating it can be. Make sure that the fate of everyone in your book is clearly explained to avoid this dilemma.
Examples of this type of ending are romances in which the characters come together and there is no threat to their happiness or unity on the horizon. Or adventure stories in which good triumphs over evil and all villains are finally defeated.
This type of story ending can be considered a bit uninspired, but it is the safest option. This avoids the possibility of angry reviewers getting comments like “but what about this and the character” or “I wasn’t sure if there was any chance that this or that would happen”.
Let your reader hang on a cliff
Cliffhanger endings leave some elements of a story unsolved. The decision to end your story with a cliffhanger is important if you want to keep readers eagerly awaiting the next installment in a fictional series.
It is important to note that a cliffhanger end should be a conscious choice. Most of the plot points should be resolved, and the ending shouldn’t feel like a disappointment. You need to strike a balance between making your reader feel like they have reached a climax while deliberately leaving some aspects of the story open.
Once you have a rough, or even concrete, idea of what your story sequel is going to be, make sure your cliffhanger ending naturally progresses to the next part. Or if you are not sure whether a follow-up book is the right way to go, you can leave the option open without committing to it. For example, when George Lucas decided to freeze Han Solo in Star Wars it was because he didn’t know if Harrison Ford would be available for the sequel.
A cliffhanger end carries a higher risk of leaving readers disappointed than tying it all together. However, when well written, they are among the most exciting endings possible.
Provides a twist in the story
A twist end is a great choice if you can pull it off effectively. This type of story ending can be the most powerful, but it’s also very difficult to get right.
Two problems usually arise with twist endings.
First, readers may be able to spot your turn a mile away. Nothing is more annoying than a major “reveal” at the end of the story you predicted in Act One.
The second common problem is a twisted ending that is too incredible. If something happens out of nowhere and there was no evidence afterwards, readers can fail at short notice. An effective twist end must therefore work on both an emotional and a logical level.
To write an effective twist ending, include a few pointers that anticipate the twist without being clumsy or obvious. Ideally, your reader won’t realize its meaning at first, but when they look back they will find that there were subtle clues. You can also play around with diversions that point to an entirely different ending, but be careful if you use too many and confuse your reader.
Twist endings are incredibly hard to get right, but if you manage to write a good one, you will sure keep readers thinking about your story long after you finish.
Play around with ambiguity and unreliability
Some readers hate not knowing exactly how a story ends. Others love the chance to come to their own conclusion.
The suitability of an ambiguous ending also depends in part on your genre choices. Romance readers, for example, usually want a clean ending that is clearly given to them the outcome that they have been following all along. However, readers of a gritty psychological thriller might enjoy having their ending confused by an ending that doesn’t explain everything to the reader.
Unreliable narrators are a great way to end a story on an ambiguous note. Consider Brett Easton Ellis’s American Psycho (spoiler alert!).
Throughout the story, we are shown events through the eyes of Patrick Bateman. However, there is strong evidence that the way he tells things may not be exactly how they turned out. Ellis in no way solves things and allows the reader to draw their own conclusions.
Sometimes ambiguous endings are really divisive. Just ask any Sopranos fan. This type of ending is a good choice if you are relying on both your ability to write and the likelihood that your readers will not hate you for it. However, it is likely the wrong choice for most stories.
End with an epilogue
Epilogues can be an effective way to add a sense of realism or depth to your story. By suggesting that events continued well after the main action ended, this makes your reader feel like the story took place in a believable world, rather than one that was purely for the plot.
However, the endings of the epilogue can sometimes feel a bit unwieldy and almost jammed as the author couldn’t think of any other way to end it. For example, Ender’s Game has an epilogue that adds a ton of details that feel kind of rash and short compared to the main story.
If you want to use an epilogue as a means to end your story, take the time to read a variety of stories that ended this way. Read those who are rated well and those who are hated. This comprehensive reference will enable you to identify the type of endings that work well so that you can try to apply their principles to your own story.
Choose a cyclical ending
If your story starts and ends similarly, and makes readers feel like it has come full circle, then you’ve used cyclical ending.
A cyclical ending is not the same as simply ending things as they started. Although the story begins and ends in the same place, readers should have been on a journey with the characters who developed or learned something in the process.
An example of a cyclical ending that many people have heard of at school is Of Mice and Men. The story begins and ends in the same place symbolic of the inevitable fate of its main characters, which is given by the life they lose. is restricted.
Now that you know six best practices for ending a story satisfactorily, let’s examine the concept of effective ending in more detail.
Frequently asked questions about the end of the story
How do you end a short story?
You can end a short story the same way you can end a whole story. Ending an epilogue may be a less likely choice due to the limitation on the length you work with, but it is still technically possible.
What is the end of a story called?
You can see the end of a story as that. referred to as Climax, Conclusion, dissolution or simply the end. These terms all have slightly different meanings, although they are often used interchangeably.
How do you write a sad ending?
Sometimes sad endings linger in our hearts and minds in ways that happy endings don’t. Think, for example, of the power of the end of Romeo and Juliet or the film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Mist. Writing a sad ending to a story requires readers to care about the characters. A sense of avoidable tragedy can often add to the emotional blow of that ending.
How do you finish a children’s book?
The ending of a children’s story should be appropriate to the age of the reader and the overall tone of the book. Unsurprisingly, somber twists and turns or sad endings aren’t the way to go here. Younger readers often prefer a clean ending that makes them feel like they’ve explained everything. You can still use a surprise ending, but it should be a fun and happy surprise!
You now have six different answers to how to end a story, plus some tips for different genres and writing styles.
It’s important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to end a story. Several types of endings could work for your story. It comes down to your ability to write them well and please your readers.
If you are unsure of the right type of ending for your particular story, feel free to jot down ideas for each of the six different types, but these will be applied to your fictional work. What feels best Get feedback from people whose opinion you value and see what kind of ending they think would work well.
Take as long as necessary to write and rewrite your ending. Getting it right is crucial if you want to get good reviews and leave your readers with a positive impression of you and your work.