How do you end a story?
This topic would naturally be in my mind at this time. I’ve been working on a fantasy story for about a year now, and I’m finally about it end it. It’s been a roller coaster ride. I’ve doubted myself more times than I care to think about and deleted or rewritten more scenes than I thought possible. It is, by far, my best that I’ve ever written and I’m not ashamed to say that I’m proud of myself. When I finish it (hopefully within the week), I plan to treat myself to a steak dinner.
But I’m not there yet. I’m not done yet.
Questions to ask yourself
When writing a story, plenty of problems crop up. Many have problems beginning one, others ending it, and everyone has trouble with the in-between parts. Me, I’ve had problems every step of the way. Now that I’m approaching the end of my story, I’m faced with one very important question: how do I want to end it?
Ending a story is almost as important as beginning one. Endings accomplish different things, and what they accomplish all depends on how you want your audience to feel. Romances generally elicit feelings of satisfaction, as they almost always have happily-ever-after endings. Horror stories don’t always have happily ever after endings–the hero doesn’t always triumph, and the monster doesn’t always die. Sometimes, the monster wins to kill another day, even if the hero does escape.
What do you want to do with your story? Is it a stand alone? Do you want to tidy up all the loose ends into a nice, neat package, or do you want the story to go on? Books in a series often end with a “to be continued,” where you have to read the next book to find out what happened next.
How my story will end
With my story, I have to find the balance between wrapping everything up and setting up for the next story. The book is going to end–my hero succeeds and finishes him mission–so I have to wrap up everything that happens. At the same time, I intend mine to be a trilogy, so I want my audience to say, “what happens next?” with my book. Crafting my scenes so that both things happens is tricky. I feel like I’m putting a ten-thousand piece puzzle together, and I don’t want to lose or misplace anything.
The fact is, I’m not going to know how my story ends until I type the final words. I know in my head that I want to do certain things and reveal other facts, but I won’t know if those things will actually come out until I type those final words. So far, my characters have been pretty opinionated about how I tell their story–they may surprise me yet.