10 Tips for Finding the Best Way for Your Story to End

It’s one of the hardest questions we have to ask ourselves in life: Where will it all end?

As writers, we have a lot more control over things, and that includes where and how to stop. Unfortunately, endings are still hard—sometimes the hardest part of a story. Here are some tips that may help you if you’re struggling with an ending you don’t like, or just not sure where your story is going:

  1. Plan the ending first. Get it working right away so you have direction.
  2. If you’re getting close to an end you don’t have and you’re at a loss, go back to the beginning—review your story, gather ideas, get a sense of where it’s leading, and then follow it.
  3. It’s more important that your ending be fitting than happy. (And remember that goes for unhappy endings too.) It can still twist, but the unexpected can’t be the impossible. The best twist is the one you feel you should have seen coming.
  4. The purpose of an ending is to simplify—it’s the moment when you bring light to the darkness, when all becomes clear. You can still have cliffhangers and leave your readers with questions and something to think about, but if you leave an overcomplicated, unexplained tangle of confusion, it’s no good
  5. That said, don’t be afraid of making it big and bold. If it gets out of hand, keep writing anyway—you can always go back and pull it back as necessary.
  6. Ask yourself: Should this have ended already? Am I ending too early? When should it end?
  7. You’re allowed to have more than one ending.
  8. The resolution should involve the characters. If the ending owes too much to an outside force, it’s likely to leave readers disappointed. If we’ve been walking in a character’s (or characters’) shoes, feeling what they feel and dreaming their dreams, we don’t want to see someone else end their story for them.
  9. It was never all a dream. Don’t toy with your reader’s emotions like that. No matter how brilliant you might think the twist is, 99% of the time it’s not.
  10. A lot of build-up needs a lot of resolution. You need to know when to stop, but you also need to know how to suit an ending to the story it’s concluding. A long or complicated story with a lot at stake needs a lot of ending.

 

Are these strict rules? Of course not. A great writer can break any rule. You can get away with anything as long as you do it imaginatively, and as long as you’re sure you can pull it off. But these tips will help you to avoid, prevent, or justify the sins of a bad ending.

 

What are you ending right now?

Veterans Day

Here at The Ambage we wanted to take a day to remember and thank all of those who give their service to the military of their country–whether that be in the past, present, or future. Serving one’s country in the military is one of the most honorable, selfless, and respectable thing one can do, and today is a day to remember that.

 

“One of the founders of The Ambage, in fact (Caleb Carraway), is currently serving in the United States Air Force, and I’d to thank him especially for his continued service as well as for all he’s done for The Ambage.

“Politics is a messy business, and war and the military are definitely included in that (i.e. strong and differing feelings). But that’s the great thing about today (and Memorial Day, etc.)–it’s not about the politics. It’s not about the political pressures or debates. Today it’s about the people–the men and women who have so selflessly given their service to the armed forces of their country. THAT is something everyone can–and should–respect. Save the debates, disagreements, and everything else for another time. Today is about the people and their sacrifices–and remembering those sacrifices.

“To all those have served or are serving, whether in the United States or elsewhere, thank you, and may God bless you.”

-Andrew

“Ninety-five years ago, Germany and the Allies of the first World War signed an armistice, putting an end to the conflict. The casualty was over 37,500,000. A year later, the world observed Armistice Day (also known as Remembrance Day and Poppy Day in other countries) in memory of the soldiers who had fought and died for their cause. This day has been a commemoration of war veterans, alive and dead, ever since.

“Only an approximate 100,000 of that 37 million were American. It’s estimated that in the course of U.S. history, the lives of over 1,300,000 men and women in service have been lost to war; more than 1,500,000 have been wounded. That’s nearly 3,000,000 human beings who suffered the cost of war so that we our country can continue to enjoy its freedom. You wouldn’t be sitting comfortably at your computer or thumbing your iPhone right now if it wasn’t for them.

“That doesn’t even come near to the unimaginable number of men and women who have served our country’s military in the last 236 years of our nationhood. But the definite knowledge that over three million people have sacrificed so much for our way of life is enough.

“Think about all the men and women who have given their lives for their country, whether it’s this country or another. Think about all the people who lost friends, parents, children, siblings, to war. Think about all those heroes.

“They’re the people who realize freedom is not free. It comes at a price. It costs something: it costs lives, and limbs. It costs war, work, courage, and so much more, so many things that every day our military is out there giving.

“That’s something worth remembering.”

– Caleb

In Memoriam

While this blog is normally about books and writing, we at the Ambage wanted to take a moment to Remember what happened 12 years ago.

9/11 is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful days of the year. Not because it’s a happy day, or a fun day, or anything like that, but there is definitely a certain beauty to the actions of this day. The attitude and the respect that people show (hopefully) on this day is incredibly beautiful. It’s a day of remembrance, a day of prayer, a day of memory, a day of sadness, a day of reflection, a day of respect, a day of honor, a day of fervor, a day of comforting, a day of charity. A day of love. A day to remind us of what happened, to honor those who suffered and died because of that day. It’s a day to remind us to honor those that work each and every day, even to the point of sometimes giving up their lives, in order to try and protect the people of the United States of America.

This day reminds us that we must show love. To the families, to the people, to those who fight for freedom, to politicians who work to keep us safe even when we may disagree with them on things, and to the people of the whole world. Love is necessary, always. Today is a day of love. A day of remembrance and sadness, yes, but also of hope and strength. Hope that a tragedy like this will never happen again. Strength that we are resolved, that nothing will break our spirit. That we can get through anything—together.

I’d like to thank everyone that has posted about this day. I’d like to thank those that have said a prayer today in honor and remembrance of this. I truly believe it is one of the most important days of the year because it is a day of reminder. A day to remind us of love, of those lost, of those fighting, of simply everyone. To remind us that peace is what we all need to strive for, and not even on a global scale, but on a personal scale. Peace among people, all people—all cultures, religions, etc. I have seen so many beautiful posts today, and it honestly warms my heart to see that people do care.

Today we remember many things, twelve years later. Those who are gone, those who are suffering, those who helped out so immensely. And we also vividly remember the heroism and courage of the men and women of the military who fight each and every day for the values this country holds dear.

Please do not forget them. Please love.

And because this is a writing/book site, I’ll end with a link to Stories in Memory of 9/11 Victims, because I think it’s incredibly awesome that that exists.

God Bless America.

-Andrew