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Brilliant Ideas on How to End a Story

how to end a story

Getting to the bottom of how to end your story is crucial. You run the risk of disappointing your readers and finding that key piece to the conclusion that pays off. The pressure is real to get your ending right and arrive at a finale that satisfies your audience. There are no right and wrong endings. However, writers should always consider reader expectations.

There are a few factors to consider in establishing audience expectations — genre, plot structure, target audience, and the overall theme. And if you’re not sure how to come to your story to close, take a look at these brilliant ideas and story arcs you can rely on.

Resolved ending

Tie up loose ends and tie a neat bow on it. As simple as that. Closing your story with a resolved ending delivers clear answers to readers. A resolved ending is often common to standalone books or romance novels where readers anticipate a happy-ever-after type of ending.

Unresolved ending

This ending is ideal for authors writing a book series. It stirs anticipation as to what comes next. While resolved ending feeds you with answers, unresolved does the opposite. It leaves you with questions instead of answers. It creates scenes to the readers’ minds of the possible outcome and anticipates how the story moves forward. The unresolved ending still has a resolution in a form of speculation. It leaves readers with questions at the end that make them want for more.

Ambiguous ending

Leaving a room of ambiguity allows your audience to come up with exciting theories about what happens next. Instead of giving readers a resolved ending, it rouses what-ifs and paints their own picture or representation of how the story will come to a close. Not quite like the unresolved ending, an ambiguous ending is open to the reader’s own interpretation. A few books that adapted this type of finale include John Green’s Paper Towns and Lois Lowry’s The Giver. If part of your goal is to let your readers reflect on the theme of the book, then ambiguity might work for you.

Unexpected ending

An unexpected ending works quite well for any genre. It happens when your audience already expects a particular ending when suddenly a plot twist takes place they didn’t see coming. Unexpected endings can be crucial to write. It runs the risk of leaving unresolved matters (characters, events, problems) that can disappoint your readers in the end. Endings like this should be achieved by arriving at a conclusion that is far from what your audience anticipated, but at the same time has a satisfying resolution and ties up loose ends.

Tied ending

A tied ending itself is a cycle. The story ends where it began. The conclusion to it closes the same way it started. It exists in Erin Morgenstern’s Night Circus where she uses the same words to introduce and end the story. This kind of ending is ideal in any literary fiction where it gives you a sense of direction as to where your storyline is headed. While it may look like it’s an easier ending, it rather a greater challenge to take your audience to a roller coaster of emotions and arriving at the finish line where you exactly started.

Expanded ending

Expanded ending highlight reels some scenes of the story afterward that leaves clues to readers as to what can happen to the main character moving forward. It is also classified as an epilogue that presents sneak peeks at the protagonist’s chain of events. This ending can be best for you if you want to tie up some loose ends and inculcate further insights into the character.

Finding the right ending to a story can be fraught with anxiety to most writers. Nevertheless, remember that writing is an art and not science. As a writer, we perform based on our truth and principles, rather than driven by laws and rules. However, principles can also serve as a guide in tying loose ends as your story arcs develop. Fail a lot and learn your way to get through the writing curbs on how to end a story.

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Flynn Hannan

Flynn Hannan

Bibliophile , Senior Indie Editor at Writers Republic

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