One of the interesting things about reading through the slush pile at Fiction Vortex is that I get to see every kind of story in relatively quick succession. After doing this long enough, I started to see a pattern: Writers have awesome stories, but they frequently have no idea how to end them. They spend thousands of words creating great characters and worlds, and then completely flub the ending. Since so few people actually get to see consistent examples of how important a good ending is, I decided to write about it.
See, that’s one of nice things about being managing editor of Fiction Vortex. I get to do whatever I darn well please, which includes writing endless lists of writing tips. You can’t stop me. The upshot for you is that it’s useful stuff, and the advice is pretty universal. No matter what kind of story you’re writing, there will be something here to help you.
It’s a three part series, which is broken down like so:
Part 1 discusses the importance of a good ending using a strange analogy about gymnastics. Just stay with me here. Come for the article, stay for the faceplants. You’ll see what I mean.
Part 2 breaks down the various kinds of story endings into six basic categories. Every good story uses at least one of these resolution strategies, but the best use more than one.
Part 3 looks at the common mistakes that writers make when ending a story. These are also general categories, but as with knitting, ship-building, and CPR, there more ways to do it wrong than there are to do it right.
I hope this proves useful for you. At the very least, it might help you identify what’s wrong when a beta reader says something doesn’t feel right. That, or they may be completely unfamiliar with what a good ending looks like. In which case you should still refer them to these articles.
Remember: Stick the Landing!