The way you leave your readers feeling is how they’ll always remember the book or article. If you disappoint your readers at the very end, they may well give up on your future work—or pick it up with less enthusiasm. Writers need to take responsibility and craft the last quarter of the book as they did the first, before their books cement their reputations in ink and binding.
After the climax of any written work, once you make your point, reveal the outcome of an event, or show that your understanding really holds water, the real trouble in many written works can begin for the author. All too often, writers try to tie up many vital questions within the matter of only a few paragraphs in order to meet a certain word or page allotment. To often, in concluding, the author can thus create something wordsmiths call an “information dump.”
An information dump, or information overload, can occur anywhere in the writing, of course, and is often employed in description of a person or a setting. But writers frequently trot out an information dump at the end of a discourse, to plug up all the remaining holes. The authors want to account for every missing piece—and quickly, too, because the deadline for handing in their work is fast approaching.
The problem with piling so many details in one spot is that information isn’t the sum total of what your interested readers may be seeking. If readers wanted to be force-fed facts, they’d read an encyclopedia. They do want the information to be given, but they want it integrated with the other elements authors are supposed to provide.
And piling all this information in one spot throws off the timing. Pacing means that information will be meted out a little at a time and discussed judiciously. Putting so many facts in one spot without helping the reader digest the meal can make an ending in particular feel all too rushed.
Timing, as the comedians say, is everything. And pacing the end of the work is a delicate balance. Too much told too soon ends the deliberative progression, and readers may not even carry on to the finish after they know what they consider to be “all.” On the other hand, an information dump of this sort dropped into the last three pages can be equally disconcerting. The feeling conveyed then is that the author is in a hurry to get the manuscript in the mail.
What you want to do is build down to the end, not hurry with the work’s conclusion, and to consider this part of the piece as significant as the opening. At the start of the writing, you perform a set up to prepare your readers for what you will say; at the end, you finish by telling your readers what they have learned, what happened in the story, what will happen next in the overall field, or what they can continue to search out on their own.
One way to make the end work as well as the opening is to be aware of the finale’s importance. Though the opening will lead your audience to read the rest, a rousing finish will call them back for more.
Miki Hayden is the award-winning author of The Naked Writer, a style and composition book for every level of writer.
These tips came from the course Writing a Religious Book
Are you inspired to inspire others? Inspirational writing can be short or long, as well as fiction or nonfiction. In this course, you will decide between writing fiction or non-fiction, and reach deep inside yourself to write the articles, stories and books that will help your readers live inspired lives. As you’re writing 2500 words of your spiritual/religious novel, short story or article, you’ll also learn to keep your inner well refreshed, and stay in touch with your initial motivation.
You will learn:
- How to stay motivated and inspired to write
- To set the scene with research and firm details
- To identify appropriate markets and prepare your query and manuscript for submission