I just finished Undying Love and although I feel accomplished, I feel like I had to drag my own ass across the finish line.
We all love to write, most of us start off really strong and write a banger of an intro or a prologue. The middle can be a bit iffy, especially if you are a pantser, but what I think is universally considered the hardest is ending a story. This is why you can find some stories on Wattpad that are neverenders.
I think of writing a novel almost like flying a plane. Let’s say you are piloting a 747 departing from O’Hare International to LAX. You are in charge of 3xx people on board (or more) and your flying has to be flawless.
You take off and all is well. You get to cruising altitude, drinks and meals are served and everyone is having a great, ‘rona-free, trip.
You’re now coming up on the approach and you and your co-pilot are preparing to land. You tell anyone who is not a pilot or co-pilot to get the hell out of the cockpit to get ready for the landing because you have to get this part right. Grandma has to get back home to see her newborn granddaughter.
Now, if you don’t land this plane successfully, everyone fucking dies in a fiery crash.
Does not matter how perfect the takeoff was, it does not matter how awesome the airline meal was at cruising because now everyone is barbecue on the tarmac.
Maybe that was a bit of a stretch, but, that is about how integral a good solid ending is to a story. It can make or break a story, turning all that hard work into a giant barbecue dumpster-fire. I only talk about this because I almost did this.
I knew how I wanted to end the story, but, somehow, I thought about going another direction. I remember when I completed the story the first time, I read it over and thought, “This does not feel like the way it should end.” I sat on this ending for 3 days until I thought back to how I originally wanted to end the story. I wrote the last lines I wanted in the story and I built from there.
I remember I was watching an interview with an author (I can’t remember who it was, but I want to say it was Stephen King?) and one of their friends wrote their stories from the last line on up. I remember him saying that it was like eating dessert before dinner, which I agreed that it seemed a little backwards to do this. But, after trying it on my own, it became a pointer to steer me in the direction of where I wanted the ending to go, almost like a North Star. If you are stuck in figuring out your ending, I suggest giving this a try!
What do you think? What methods do you use to end a story?
Feel free to share your strategies below! We can all learn something new from each other.