Unlocking the writer inside: The End

We’ve reached the end of this series of blogs about encouraging pupils to turn imaginative ideas into stories, so now I’m going to look at endings.

It’s hard to discuss how to end a story which doesn’t exist yet! A class can come up with the beginnings of stories in lots of fun and fast ways. It’s possible to map out ways to turn those moments of inspiration into stories. But it’s hard to discuss ending those stories without the words in front of us. 

The hardest but most satisfying ending I’ve written so far was for Maze Running, because it was the end of a series as well as the end of a novel. But I can’t explain the end of Maze Running, because the reason it works (I hope it works!) would be lost on anyone who hasn’t read the books, and also because telling you the ending would ruin the series if you plan to read the books in the future. This is why endings are hard to discuss in the abstract!

At the end of Maze Running, I made sure that the main problem of the book was resolved, that the main baddie was dealt with, and that every character had reached a settled point in their own story. I also brought the story round in a circle back to the beginning of the series, and put in a surprise as well. And I tried to do all of that without slowing the story down! 

Questions to consider when you’re ending a story:

Have you thought about every character’s journey, or have you left someone stranded halfway through the story?

Have you remembered the main problem / question at the start of the story and resolved it?

If there was a baddie, have you either defeated them, or dealt with them in some other way?

Does the main character have what they wanted at the start of the story?

Have you ended in the right place? Could you have ended the story sooner?  Or could you write for a bit longer to see what happens next?

Have you used strong, vivid words in the last line?

The most important question of all: How does the reader feel at the end of the story?

There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but asking them might help you decide if you’ve reached the end of the story, or if you’ve just stopped writing!

They all lived happily ever after…

Do all stories need happy endings?

What other ways are there to end a story?

Is it a good idea to end on a cliffhanger?

 

Do you need to plan the end before you get there? 

Some writers do, some don’t. I like to discover the ending as I write the story, so the end is usually a surprise to me.  I know other writers (like the wonderful Vivian French) who think about the start, then decide on the end, then write the middle bit to join them up. 

Any way you choose to write is fine, so long as the story works. 

Also it’s ok to write an ending, then go back and change the start or the middle of the story to make it fit. I do that all the time! 

I hope you’ve enjoyed these blogs, and I also hope that if you find ways of writing which work better for you than the ways I’ve suggested, that you will follow your own path!  Writing rules are made to be broken.

Have fun on your own writing adventures!

This blog is part six of a series of blogs by children's writer Lari Don. Click here to see the full series!

 

Lari Don

Lari Don is an award-winning children’s writer who writes novels, picture books, retellings of old folklore and novellas for reluctant readers. She also works in schools and libraries with children of all ages, sharing her passion for stories and encouraging children to write their own. Check out her child-friendly writing blog at www.laridon.co.uk/blog or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.