How to write an ending.

clear glass ball on green grass

Stories are about transformation. As you write your story, expect to embody and manifest all three phases of the change cycle.

Some examples of the change cycle in story structure:

intrigue >> challenge >> resolution

fascination >> confusion >> new paradigm

birth >> growth >> death

status quo >> disruption >> harmony

How do you know what happens at the end? You decide.

Writing the last part of your story requires you to understand surrender. This is about the release that precedes insight.

As you write to the end of your story, you’ll come to a threshold. Use your energy to cross this threshold.

Ending your story is a decision that will feel like a discovery.

If you’ve made the stakes high for your character, the resolution to your story won’t be easy and straightforward. That means that writing the ending probably won’t be easy for you, either. If you feel frustrated, resistant, discouraged, afraid to face your final scenes, scared that you can’t harmonize all of your story’s elements — now you can transform all of that energy into surrender, and use it in your story.

Feel your difficult feelings, but don’t let them stop you from writing. As you approach the end of your book, take notes on your own physiology and neurochemistry. How do you know you are wrestling with completion? You can share this energy with your character. There’s a good chance that you can use these signals to express something on their behalf, as they face this final phase of their story. As you wrestle with completion, allow the emotion you’re experiencing to infuse your descriptions.

You might not know that you’re writing your ending until you finish the last word of your final sentence. You can’t know for sure, because you will be fully present in that final scene as you are writing it.

Presence is not thinking about what’s coming up in the future — presence is being in the moment. Write from within that moment. If you feel like it’s just too hard, that’s a sign that you are writing within dramatic tension. Keep going until you understand surrender.

The feeling that precedes surrender is not a problem you need to solve. Let that feeling be an arrow that points you home.

Release the energy, and let that arrow sail to the finish.

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Photo credit (top): Arash hedieh on Unsplash.

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1 comment

Jeff Lennard

Thank you for bringing up this important aspect of our storytelling.  I missed it (buried it) in my first draft, which is now an important focus of my second (third) rewrite. The problem, sometimes called weakness or desire and the moral effect of character transformation drives our telling and how our stories must be resolved.  It's given me focus and hopefully will make the story worth reading.  

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