Thursday, March 6, 2014

Crafting your happily ever after - finish the end of your story in five easy steps

How to craft your endings

You have a great idea for a story, and you've written two-thirds of it, leading all the way up to the climax. Now what? How do you get your protagonist through the final battle, defeat all of the bad guys, resolve all of the issues, and leave your readers satisfied in the end?

Readers love a good ending that brings everything full circle and leaves them with something to think about. Craft your endings carefully so that your readers will demand more as soon as they read "the end".

If you have heard of Blake Snyder's Save the Cat method (which I highly recommend), you may have noticed that, although he is very specific about the plot points leading up to the ending, Act III gets only a "wrap things up" treatment. What you may not know, is that Snyder went into detail about the finale in a later book: Save the Cat Strikes Back.  Much of what I have to tell you about endings comes from Snyder's fantastic screenplay writing advice. 

Storming the castle in 5 easy steps:

1- Gathering the team

Let your hero stop to gather everyone, and everything he needs for the final battle, whether it is storming a literal castle, landing that part in the musical, or stopping that girl from leaving without him.

2- Executing the plan

This is the time when the hero's team bands together and creates a plan that feels foolproof. Everyone is feeling positive about the battle.

3-High tower surprise

Now the hero reaches the final battle, only to find out that his plan isn't going to work like he thought it would. Here he finds that the bad guy knew he was coming all along. 

4-Dig deep down

The hero has nothing to draw on--no mentor to help out, no plan to depend on. It looks like he is going to fail. But now he takes that leap of faith and digs deep down inside of himself. He recalls the great lessons he has learned along his journey and realizes what he needs to do. 

5-Execution of the new plan

Now that the hero has awakened to see what needs to be done, he puts this last-ditch plan into action, and it works! All of the villains are systematically undone with this impromptu new plan. 

6-Wrap up loose ends

I know I said 5 steps, but really, there is one more. You need to tie up all loose ends. Readers need to know what happened to all of the characters. Bring the story around full circle and show us how the protagonist really changed on his journey. Make sure you address every plot point that you introduced. And even if your story continues on in a series, satisfy this particular story's questions and your readers will be emotionally satisfied. 

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Authors-if you have wrestled and conquered an ending, what advice do you have? 
Readers-have you ever read an ending that just didn't satisfy?

2 comments:

Rachel Morgan said...

I have wrestled and conquered several endings now (yay!) and my advice is to always try and surprise your readers ;-)

Christy said...

Yes Rachel, I love a satisfying ending that I never saw coming!

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