A writer can face many problems in ending a story. Time may run out, or space on the page, so that the ending really says: “I stopped writing here.” The story may lack focus or a problem may not be clearly defined so that an ending strategy appears forced or contrived. Some endings are stale and conventional, the equivalent of riding off into the sunset. Or the ending may be hiding somewhere in the last four or five paragraphs of the working draft.

The skillful writer builds a repertoire of ending strategies, equal to the one she has for beginnings. Here are some suggestions.

  • Let the ending echo the beginning.
  • Project the reader into the future. What is likely to happen next?
  • Think of the story as a journey and the ending as a destination.
  • Try writing your ending first.

Taken from Help! for Writers, a self-directed course by Roy Peter Clark at Poynter NewsU.

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