Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Writing Tip Tuesday

The ending of your story is critical.


But what I mean by "the ending" doesn't mean just the end of the storyline.

I mean the feeling the ending leaves the reader with.

That feeling is critical.



How do you want your reader to feel after reading the final page of your book?

One thing that contributes to the feeling left by the ending is whether or not the reader is left with a memory of how the story evolved.

That is often accomplished by providing a connection to the beginning of the story, even at the end.

Does that make sense?

I'm going to offer up a personal example that may seem rather trite, but to me, it is a good example of reconnecting the reader to earlier parts of the story at the end and, thus, producing a satisfied feeling that encapsulates the story as a whole.

In my novel (The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis), the two main characters discover boats made from Yoohoo cartons floating down a creek. Inside the boats are notes written on strips of paper and folded.

The boys excitedly open the notes:

Three times.

This is repeated several times in the story (for the first few notes).

At the end of the book, one of the boys is sending a boat and a note down the creek.

My brilliant editor suggested that he fold it:

Three times.

(She refers to that as a "refrain." I love that!)

Well, DUH!

Of course that's what I needed to do.

That simple addition took the reader back to the beginning of the story in a wonderful, satisfying circle.

That addition left the reader with a memory of the early part of the story and, thus, an "aura" of the story as a whole, not just the end.

So I suggest that you might consider if there is any way to "bookend" an element of your story - to bring back at the end something important from the beginning - to give the reader a reminder of the evolution of your story - to connect the beginning and the end to leave the reader "full".

Just a thought....


About Karen Williams said...

Great thought!

See how I was able to send a simple comment that used a word to connect with the end of your post, thus(I hope) causing the reader to smile....;-)

Carol said...

I LOVE this strategy! A professor taught it to me years ago, and I use it all the time. It's also a strategy I've taught to younger writers. I can't wait to show them this post and tell them that published authors use this strategy also!

Alison Acheson said...

Uri Shulevitz says (of picturebooks, but you're right--it applies to all stories!) "The end remembers the beginning." At the end of the first draft those words always come to my mind. Great post--thanks!