How to write your story’s ending

Full disclosure, I’m struggling to write the ending of my current work-in-progress, The Fair Queen, a Young Adult Fantasy story. Today’s post is an attempt to work through my issues and come up with a perfect ending that gives readers a sense of satisfaction as well as leaving them wanting just a little bit more. So, join me while I figure out how to end my story, and maybe you’ll pick up a few hints and tips for ending your own stories!

Writing endings Lyndsey's Book Blog

There are five traditional types of ending, according to my research. Shall we take a quick look?

The circular ending

This is where the ending mirrors the beginning – your story has come full circle. The final scene takes place in the same setting, or some of the dialogue reflects that of the initial pages.

The surprise ending

This is the most unexpected ending you can think of (usually best to foreshadow at least slightly so readers are pleasantly surprised rather than throwing the book out of the window).

The unclear ending

This one is a bit vague and ambiguous, letting readers decide on their own resolution rather than making it clear what happens after THE END.

The emotional ending

This one is very dramatic and heart-wrenching, whether that’s a happy or sad ending is up to you.

The ironic ending

This one is the exact opposite to the ending you were expecting – related to the surprise ending, but less of a shock.

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So those are your basic options for ending your story. But how do you decide which one fits your story best? Well, it depends on a few things, such as genre, plot, the overall feeling you want to leave your readers with.

Let’s take a look at the things we need to consider in order to write a cohesive and satisfying ending for our readers (and, let’s be honest, ourselves, because we’re our own biggest fans).

The genre

Most romance novels end with some kind of happy-ever-after, usually quite soon after the resolution of the final big conflict. We don’t get to see much of the daily ins and outs of marital life because that’s not romantic. Equally, novels with battles tend to end after the war has been won and peace is restored, but before the negotiations have truly begun.

Your genre probably has an accepted standard for endings that will give you an idea of when to stop writing. It’s very easy to just keep telling your character’s story with no real structure after your plot concludes, so this will help you to decide when to call it a day.

The protagonist

Who were they at the beginning? Who are they now? How have they changed, and why?

If you’re writing a rags to riches tale, for example, you could use the circular ending and have your MC start the novel standing in their kitchen. It’s a bit shabby and outdated, maybe a mess, with coupons stuck to the fridge with magnets. By the end, they could be standing in the kitchen of their new dream house, with a glass of champagne and the person they love, celebrating their engagement, or a promotion. You get the idea.

I’m writing a YA fantasy, so my MC’s character arc is more about self-discovery, obviously on face-value she’s now a princess with magical abilities, but underneath that she’s discovered a selfless bravery and desire for justice that she didn’t realise she possessed.

Think about how you can show your character’s development within your final pages.

The antagonist

How would your antagonist like the novel to end? With your MC dead or defeated? World domination?

It’s worth considering how the baddie would want things to go so you can decide whether that might actually be the ending that makes the most sense. Or something in between.

Endings don’t always have to be happy, sometimes the most satisfying ending is the unhappy one, depending on the moral of the story.

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Your story’s ending should marry with the overall tone of the book, whether that’s humorous, deep and meaningful, happy or sad. It should tie up as many of the loose threads you’ve left lying around as possible, but definitely not all of them. You want a feeling of completion and understanding, but you want your readers to keep thinking about the book after the last page, and if they know absolutely everything that has happened and will happen they won’t be left wondering.

It goes without saying that your final scene will be the last thing your readers read, so it’s crucial to get the tone right and leave them with the intended message and emotion.

The most satisfying endings tend to be created by the MCs own agency – they make a choice or a decision that leads to this particular conclusion. It should show the ultimate point in the character’s arc, revealing the result of their development, or hinting at it if you are aiming for an unclear ending. You also want to bring in elements from the stories beginning and middle, reminding your readers of key lessons or themes. And finally, your last line is just as important as the first line, as you need to give readers a reason to buy your next book, whether that’s a sequel or a separate story.

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Here are some great resources for writers looking to discover their story’s ending:

Eva Deverell’s ‘The Ending’ worksheet

4 tips for writing satisfying endings from Go Teen Writers

How to write satisfying story endings from Creative Writing Now

How do you tackle your story endings? Are you one of those writers who come up with their last line first? Let me know how you decide on an ending in the comments, I need all the help I can get!

Lyndsey

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Writing story endings Lyndsey's Book Blog

Beautiful People – Parent Edition

Hello, hello! Beautiful People is back this month after a little break during April, which came at just the right time what with all the Camp NaNoWriMo fun.

If you’ve never come across this meme before, Beautiful People is co-hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further up and Further in. It’s a writer linkup that helps us get in touch with our characters each month, with a different fun theme. In honour of Mother’s Day (which in in May apparently, for us Brits it was actually in March…) this month’s theme is parents.

 

Beautiful People linkup for writers

Meet the Parents

Overall, how good is their relationship with their parents?

Aria gets on really well with her parents, they’re interested in her life and support her, unlike a lot of parents in YA Lit. I wanted to show another side to parents of teens, they’re not always disinterested or judgemental, some parents are actually great! I think more YA books need to show teens a realistic image of good parents, not just bad ones.

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Do they know both their biological parents? If not, how do they cope with this loss/absence and how has it affected their life?

Actually, she doesn’t know her biological parents, but she doesn’t realise that until the beginning of the book. Aria’s a Changeling, her parents don’t even know that she isn’t their real daughter, so it hasn’t affected their relationship at all yet. When Aria finds out she’s actually the daughter of a king from another realm she doesn’t believe it, but gradually she starts to accept it and become curious. As she finds out more about her biological father she realises that her real parents are the people who raised her and loved her, and they’ll never be replaced by the man who abandoned her. Ultimately, the whole experience makes her relationship with her parents stronger.

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How did their parents meet?

Aria’s mum, Eleanor (Ellie) was a singer with an orchestra that travelled around the country, and her dad, Stephen was a journalist who covered one of their concerts. He interviewed her, they fell in love, and the rest is history!

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How would they feel if they were told “you’re turning out like your parent(s)”?

She’d love to be more like her parents! Her mum is an amazing singer and performer with so much talent, Aria’s always been jealous because she has absolutely zero musical ability (despite her ironic name). She’s not particularly academic either, she’s not a bad student but she doesn’t enjoy school and can’t wait to leave – although she’s got no idea what she’s going to do now. Her dad is a writer, he’s published several books and writes columns for local publications, he’s currently writing a piece about the White Hart of Hartwood for an anthology of local myths and legends. So Aria would be thrilled to turn out like her parents – maybe with a better sense of style!

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What were your character’s parents doing when they were your character’s age?

Seventeen… Stephen was probably showing off his first car, playing designated driver for his mates and trying to impress girls. He’s adorably dorky, with his horn-rimmed specs and granddad-ish fashion sense, so he was never the biggest lady killer, until he met Aria’s mum.

Ellie would have been practicing her musical instruments, singing with the school choir, probably sneaking out to dance at clubs with her friends. And looking forward to going to University the following year to follow her dreams of being a musician.

Now I’m starting to feel bad that I didn’t let Ellie “make it”… I’m sure she’s happy with the local amateur dramatics company and the Christmas panto. Maybe.

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Is there something they adamantly disagree on?

Hmm… well Aria and Ellie gang up against Stephen a lot, particularly when he wants to watch sport and they want to watch the cooking channel. They don’t argue much, but Aria is stubborn and head strong, whereas her parents are quite laid back, so they might disagree on things regularly but it never becomes a huge fight.

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What did the parent(s) find hardest about raising your character?

Her toddler tantrums. Her dad still calls her Teacup, short for Storm in a Teacup, because her temper tantrums were legendary. She’s a fiery red head with two pretty chilled parents, which was a struggle at times.

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What’s their most vivid memory with their parental figure(s)?

Probably seeing her mum performing on stage for the first time. She loves watching the videos of her mum’s concerts, but watching her in person for the first time was really special.

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What was your character like as a baby/toddler?

A bit of a nightmare probably! She was a fast learner and picked up most things earlier than expected out of sheer determination and a desire for independence. She was a very hard headed toddler, cheeky but lots of fun.

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Why and how did the parents choose your character’s name?

They’re both very musical, at least Ellie is musical and Stephen loves music and writing about it. Aria was a pretty obvious choice for them. What they don’t know is that Aria’s biological mother named her Ariadne, and when her father swapped the babies he used his powers of suggestion to try and give them the name. It only partially worked, hence Aria.

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There you have it folks, Aria’s parental relations – quite an attractive couple if I do say so myself! I really wanted to give Aria a good strong family unit, especially as she was about to go through all kinds of upheaval thanks to the actual plot! I hope you enjoyed finding out more about Aria’s mum and dad and her background, I’d love to read about your main character’s parents, leave your links in the comments.

 

Lyndsey

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Camp Nano week one

It’s day seven, week one is over, and we should all be a quarter of the way to our goals. How are you doing? Smashing it already? Slowly building up to a last minute sprint?

As I’m off to sunny Turkey tomorrow for a week of eating, drinking and reading, I’ve been overshooting my daily word goals (1,167 per day) to try and stay a week ahead of target. Rather than leave it to the last week to catch up, I wanted to prepare in advance, allowing for any unforeseen circumstances that might prevent me from smashing out 20k words in the second half of the month. (In November, I started strong and tailed off, ending up with only 35k words, so I wanted to take advantage of my initial focus this time.)

I’m working on my rewrites of The Fair Queen, which I wrote most of the first draft for during last November’s NaNoWriMo. I had a head start because I was already part of the way through draft two, meaning that if I reach my target goal of 35k I should have draft two finished by the end of April. That means it’ll be time to send it out to beta readers before the next stage of editing!

If you’re up for beta reading a YA fantasy which is a cross between The Chronicles of Narnia, The Remnant Chronicles and Tamora Pierce’s Immortals, then send me an email!

Camp Nano week one

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Daily Stats

1st – 1,876

2nd – 2,601 | total: 4,477

3rd – 1,698 | total: 6,175

4th – 530 | total: 6,705

5th – 1,441 | total: 8,146

6th – 1,115  total: 9,261

7th – 0 (what with work, packing for holiday, and scheduling blogs I haven’t had a spare minute to write today! Maybe I’ll churn out a few words before bed, wish me luck!

Week One Total: 9,261

How has your first week of Camp Nano gone? What are you working on? Let me know in the comments!

Lyndsey

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Camp Nano week one stats Lyndsey's Book Blog