The Perfect Ending

Maybe you knew the ending of your story before you even wrote your rough draft, or maybe you now find yourself unsure of your original choice for the ending.  Here are a couple of exercises that will help you find the best, and perhaps unexpected, ending to your story:

  1. Put the story aside and make a list of all the possible things that could happen in the ending (even if they violate your original vision of the story).  Come at it from every possible angle–the expected and the unexpected, the “soft” and the “hard,” the happy and the sad and whatever lies in between.  You should have a list of at least five or six possible endings.  Now, consider how each option shades the meaning of the story.  This is a time when you must “listen” to your story and see which way it wants to go.  Chances are, the key to your ending lies in the beginning and the middle of the story.  You may discover that the story you’ve written is quite different from the one you set out to write.  That’s fine–happens all the time.  The important thing is not to ruin your story by forcing a wrong ending simply because it adheres to your preconceived  notion of what “should” happen.
  2. Once you’ve discovered what should happen in your ending, there is still the question of technique.  Again, try several different variations, making the final sentence:
    1. A line of description
    2. A line of dialogue
    3. A character’s action
    4. Internal monologue–a character’s thought or feeling.

This article was taken from the course Focus on the Short Story. Click here to register for the course now!

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