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How to End a Story — Different Types of Story Endings Explained

H uman beings have been telling stories for as long as we have roamed this Earth. Storytelling has gone from oral tradition to a natural part of the cinematic landscape. And in-between it all, we have learned how to end a story. Throughout our years telling stories, we have learned that there are ultimately four ways to end one. We will be going over each of these four ending types and explaining their characteristics for knowing how to end your screenplay. Let’s begin at the beginnings before we end with the endings! 

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How to End a Story

Four endings & "want" vs "need".

How will your story end? If you want to know how to end a story, you have to know the hero’s “want” and “need.”

A “want” is an external desire that the hero is fully aware of. This external want is what will, at least initially, drive the plot. That want could be any number of things — a trophy, a bank heist, saving the world, and so much more.

A “need” is an internal desire that the hero is not aware of, but ends up driving them through their character arc. And unlike an external want, an internal need is much more relatable to audiences, as these needs are usually universal in nature. Needs can include learning to value friendship over money, accepting love from others, or realizing what really matters by the story's end.

The four ending types that we will be looking at involve combining and mixing the wants and needs of the heroes. These specifically are endings where the protagonist gets:

  • what they want and need ( sweet )
  • neither ( bitter )
  • only what they need ( semi-sweet )
  • only what they want ( bittersweet )

For our examples, we will utilize StudioBinder’s screenwriting software for script excerpts. This also makes it easier for you to read a script excerpt here, along with accessing the whole script to better understand how to end a story. In this way, you will have the clearest view of how to end your screenplay with one of the four endings.

So, without further ado, let’s get right to it.

How to End Your Story

The sweet ending.

We start our journey with the sweet ending, which is where the hero gets what they want along with what they need. And there are not many examples much sweeter than Back to the Future .

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In the film, Marty McFly wants to be a rock star, but he lacks the proper confidence to make it work. This is fueled by his father George, who is completely lacking in confidence (or self-worth). So Marty’s need is to be the opposite of his father, while also achieving his want of  being a rock star.

However, Marty’s wants and needs change when he is sent from 1985 to 1955. He accidentally takes his dad’s place when he meets his mom and now he’s at risk of being erased from existence. Luckily, Marty succeeds in upping his dad’s confidence and getting his parents to fall in love.

Additionally, he’s able to realize his initial want of being a rock star at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance.

how to write a camera shot in a screenplay - studiobinder screenwriting software

How to End a Screenplay  •   Read the script here

A sweet ending like this, where the hero archives his wants and needs, can be hard to pull off. But if Marty hadn’t gone back in time in the first place, the ending would never have happened. What’s more, against all odds, he, along with Doc Brown’s help, got his parents back together and was able to get back to his own time.

If the screenwriters had trouble knowing how to end a script, Marty might have succeeded through dumb luck or by doing nothing himself, and these are not the best ways to end a story.

For more, including a complete breakdown, read the entire screenplay for Back to the Future .

How Do You End a Story

The bitter ending.

So how will your story end when the hero gets neither what they want or what they need? In that case, you get a bitter ending, which is exemplified wonderfully in Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo's adaptation of Puzo’s The Godfather .

In The Godfather , Michael Corleone does not want to be like his family. He may be at his sister’s wedding, but he lets his girlfriend Kay know that the business his family deals in does not represent who he is or who he wants to be. For Michael, his want is to live a normal, legitimate life.

How to End a Story - The Godfather Michael in the Beginning - StudioBinder Screenwriting Software

However, once Michael hears about his father’s assasination, his want changes from “live a normal life” to “revenge.” His need, however, remains unchanged: he needs to remain a good person, to avoid the darkness that comes from living the life of a crime boss.

However, due to his drive for revenge, Michael kick starts his downward spiral into darkness. He kills the men who tried to kill his father and later he takes over the family business.

By the final scene in the film, we know Michael is forever changed. For no matter how much he may have tried, Michael chose to be part of the life he so vigorously opposed. And in the end, he achieves neither his want nor his need.

How to End a Story with Example - The Godfather Ending - StudioBinder Screenwriting Software

How to End a Script  •   Read the scene here

It’s important to know that a bitter ending is also a tragic one, which is how to end a script like The Godfather’s . And in a great tragedy, the hero makes it to their bitter end all on their own. If the bitter end happens out of nowhere, or because of outside influences, it can feel cheap, as they are bad ways to end a story. Other potentially bad ways to end a story are if the negative actions of the hero lead to a sweet ending or if they succeed in some positive way.

For more, including a complete breakdown, read the entire  screenplay for The Godfather .

The Semi-Sweet Ending

The semi-sweet ending is one of the most common endings used. It’s when the hero gets what they need, but not what they want, often through a positive change character arc. So, if you want to know how to end a script semi-sweetly, look no further than Rain Man .

How to End a Story  •  Rain Man

Rain Man is the story of Charlie Babbitt, a man whose only concern when his dad dies is to get his inheritance. Charlie’s want is as clear as day, but someone stands in his way: his long-lost brother, Raymond — the beneficiary. Charlie then “kidnaps” Raymond to ensure that he gets his share of the inheritance.

How to End A Story - Charlie Kidnaps Raymond - StudioBinder Screenwriting Software

However, over the course of the movie, Charlie’s want makes way for his emerging need: to reconnect with his family. He learns to understand Raymond as a person and this helps heal deep wounds tied to Charlie's relationship with their father. In the end, Charlie rejects the money.

How to End A Story - Rain Man Ending - StudioBinder Screenwriting Software

How to End a Screenplay  •   Read the scene here

Additionally, Charlie sacrificing his want of inheritance for the need to keep Raymond as his brother (and as a family connection) is a strong example of positive character development. This is the primary reason the semi-sweet ending is so common, as it provides the most opportunity for a character to positively change over the course of a story. Strong character development is thus one of the great ways to end a story.

The Bittersweet Ending

Our last ending is the bittersweet, when the hero gets what they want, but not what they need. As the name might suggest, it’s just behind “bitter” for the lowest ending a story can have. Even when it looks like the hero has won, the hero themselves has to wonder if it was worth it.

So how will your story end if it’s bittersweet? Let’s take a look at the ending of Paul Thomas Anderson ’s There Will Be Blood . 

If you’re familiar with the ending, you may be thinking: what on earth is sweet about this ending? True, it’s more bitter than sweet, but let’s think about the definition we’ve laid out. Daniel’s goal from the outset of the film was to become exorbitantly rich.

By the end of the runtime, Daniel has achieved his goal: he is exorbitantly rich. Let’s look at how Anderson begins the final scene of the film:

How to End a Story There Will Be Blood Bittersweet Ending StudioBinder Screenwriting Software

How to End a Screenplay  •  Read the script here

Anderson emphasizes just how wealthy Daniel has become, describing his home as a mansion, and detailing the bowling alley as a “very large party area” within the “Plainview Estate.”

So Daniel got what he wanted. But Anderson is just as quick to point out that he didn’t get what he needed: “There are empty liquor bottles around… signs of a mess/booze/trouble.”

Daniel’s in bad shape, and it’s because he sold his soul for a profit. It’s only natural that when his nemesis, Eli, arrives, he has no patience for him

It can be hard knowing how to end a story, as endings are sometimes the hardest part of a story to write. But knowing these four ways to end a story can help ensure that you not only know how to end a story, but that your ending pays off. Making sure character actions are consistent, that plot details get followed up on, and that things come together in a meaningful way will ensure your ending, and ultimately story, have the intended effect.

Choose your ending and construct a perfectly matched character arc with our FREE downloadable and interactive worksheet below.

Free downloadable bonus

Free download , character arc + 4 endings worksheet.

Download this interactive worksheet to help guide both your character's arc and the type of ending you're aiming for. By laying out the Wants and Needs of your character in advance, you'll be able to construct a character arc and ending that are perfectly matched and ultimately satisfying.

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Character Archetypes

Now that we’ve gone over how to end a story, let’s get into the types of characters who populate these stories. Our article defines what an archetype is while providing you with in-depth examples from both cinema and television, all of which can help you to better understand how to end your screenplay.

Up Next: Character Archetypes →

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How to End a Short Story – Tips for a Compelling Conclusion

Last Updated on February 5, 2023 by Nathaniel Tower

One of the hardest things about writing a short story is figuring out the right way to bring it to a close. I’ve published over 200 short stories, but I have an equal number of unfinished short story ideas because I just couldn’t figure out how to end them.

It can be especially difficult to end a short story in a satisfying way because of the brevity of the work. Unlike novels where you have a lot of time to get to the ending, the conclusion of a short story has to be achieved quickly without feeling a sense of rush. Oftentimes, it feels like we’re just getting to know the character and their situation when it’s time for the story to come to a close.

Part of being a great writer is being able to craft a great ending. The ending of a short story is often what leaves a lasting impression on the reader. A great ending can elevate a story from good to unforgettable, while a weak ending can detract from even the strongest writing. Here are some tips on how to write compelling endings that leave a lasting impact.

Understanding the Purpose of Your Ending

The purpose of an ending is not to make the story stop. Rather, it’s to accomplish something specific for your characters and your readers. Before you can write a great ending, it’s important to understand the purpose of your story’s conclusion. Are you trying to provide resolution to your characters’ conflicts, offer a twist that changes the reader’s perception, or create a sense of open-endedness that encourages reflection? Each of these purposes can lead to different types of endings. Understanding the purpose of your ending will help guide your writing and ensure that your conclusion is effective.

Choosing the Right Type of Ending

Ultimately, you as the writer can end your short story however you want. That said, there are several types of endings that writers can choose from. Here are a few of the most common (note: I’m intentionally choosing very well-known stories to illustrate the common types of endings in order to make this piece as relatable as possible and so as not to give away endings of stories you probably haven’t read before):

  • Resolution: In this type of ending, the protagonist resolves the conflict or problem that has been driving the story. This type of ending can provide a sense of closure and satisfaction to the reader.

Example: In “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry, the protagonist and her husband sacrifice their most valuable possessions to buy each other Christmas gifts, only to find that the gifts they purchased are now worthless. The resolution of the story is the realization that the love they have for each other is priceless, and the conclusion provides a satisfying resolution to the story’s central conflict.

  • Twist: This type of ending changes the reader’s perception of the story in a surprising way. A twist ending can leave the reader feeling shocked, satisfied, or frustrated, depending on how well it is executed.

Example: In “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe, the narrator lures his victim into a wine cellar and walls him up alive. The twist ending comes when the reader realizes that the narrator is recounting the events of the story from within the wine cellar, suggesting that he is the one who has been trapped.

  • Open-ended: This type of ending leaves the resolution of the story’s conflict unresolved. This type of ending can be effective in creating a sense of ambiguity or encouraging the reader to reflect on the story’s themes.

Example: In “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway, the two characters argue over whether or not to have an abortion, but the story ends with them ordering drinks and avoiding the subject. The open-ended ending leaves the resolution of the story’s conflict unresolved, encouraging the reader to reflect on the larger issues at play in the story.

Crafting a Compelling Ending

Once you have chosen the type of ending you want to write, it’s time to craft the conclusion itself. Here are a few tips to help you write an ending that leaves a lasting impact:

  • Build tension: If you’re writing a resolution or twist ending, building tension in the final paragraphs can help heighten the impact of the conclusion.
  • Keep it concise: Avoid introducing new information or characters in the final paragraphs of your story. Stick to the themes and conflicts that have been established throughout the story, and let your conclusion flow naturally from the events that have come before.
  • End on an image or line of dialogue: A memorable image or line of dialogue can leave a lasting impression on the reader. Consider ending your story on a line of dialogue or an evocative image that encapsulates the story’s themes or provides a memorable conclusion to the narrative.
  • Create resonance: The best endings resonate with the reader long after they’ve finished the story. This can be achieved by echoing themes or motifs from earlier in the story, or by leaving a lasting impression on the reader through a memorable image or line of dialogue.

It’s okay if you don’t nail the ending on your first attempt. Good writers often draft several versions of the ending before they find the right way to wrap up their story.

If you are really struggling with your ending, ask a beta reader to help you get to the right conclusion.

Avoiding Bad Endings

While it’s possible to write great endings, it’s just as easy to write endings that detract from the story as a whole. Here are a few common mistakes to avoid when writing your ending:

  • Providing a lackluster resolution: A weak or unsatisfying resolution can leave the reader feeling let down, regardless of how well the rest of the story was written.
  • Being too predictable: If the ending of your story is too predictable, it may fail to leave a lasting impression on the reader. Consider using a twist ending or open-ended conclusion to keep the reader guessing until the end.
  • Introducing new information: Avoid introducing new information or characters in the final paragraphs of your story. Stick to the themes and conflicts that have been established throughout the story, and let your conclusion flow naturally from the events that have come before.

One of the most common ways I see amateur short story authors attempt to end their story is with death . While there are certainly many great stories that end with death, it’s very difficult to pull it off effectively without frustrating the reader.

Examples of Great Endings in Short Stories

Here are a few examples of short stories with endings that leave a lasting impact (again, I’m using common examples, but this section obviously contains spoilers if you haven’t read these stories before):

  • “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner: The story ends with the discovery of Emily’s dead body and the revelation that she had been keeping her lover’s corpse in her bedroom for years. The image of Emily’s dead body, combined with the line “For a long while we just stood there, looking down at the profound and fleshless grin,” leaves a lasting impression on the reader and encapsulates the themes of the story.
  • “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson: The story ends with the reveal that the lottery’s winner will be stoned to death. The sudden, shocking conclusion underscores the themes of conformity and the dangers of blindly following tradition.
  • “The Hitchhiker” by Roald Dahl: The story ends with the protagonist realizing that the hitchhiker he picked up was actually the ghost of a dead man. The twist ending leaves the reader feeling stunned and reinforces the themes of mortality and the unknown.
  • “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The story ends with the main character’s descent into madness, as she becomes completely consumed by her obsession with the yellow wallpaper in her room. The haunting and powerful conclusion underscores the themes of mental illness, oppression, and the consequences of denying women agency.
  • “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates: The story ends with the main character being lured into a car by a dangerous man and never being seen again. The abrupt and frightening conclusion underscores the themes of innocence lost and the dangers that young women face in the world.

Not Every Ending Is Perfect

Sometimes an ending can create a lot of mixed emotion in readers. For example, the “Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe has a strong and memorable ending, which can be seen as both good and bad depending on perspective.

From a narrative perspective, the ending is fitting with the story’s themes of revenge and the macabre, and it leaves a lasting impression on the reader. However, from a reader’s perspective, the abrupt and unsatisfying conclusion, with the main character bricked up alive in a wine cellar, can be seen as unsatisfying and leaves the reader with more questions than answers.

So, while the conclusion of “The Cask of Amontillado” can be seen as both strong and memorable, it also has the potential to leave the reader feeling unsatisfied, and it is therefore a good example of the importance of crafting an ending that both fits the story and leaves the reader feeling satisfied.

Final Thoughts on Good Endings

While you don’t want to end your short too quickly, you also don’t want to let the ending drag out too long. Speaking of which, it’s probably time to wrap up this post before I lose my reader.

Crafting a great ending to a short story requires understanding the purpose of your conclusion, choosing the right type of ending, and writing a conclusion that leaves a lasting impact. By avoiding common mistakes and taking the time to craft a compelling ending, you can write stories that leave a lasting impression on your readers.

What are your secrets for creating great endings to your short stories? What are some of your favorite endings? Share your thoughts in the comments. And don’t forget to share this post on all your favorite channels. 

How to end a short story

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2 thoughts on “ How to End a Short Story – Tips for a Compelling Conclusion ”

I have 9 unfinished short stories and one completed short story. After reading this post I see that in the story I completed, I used a part of dialogue and narration that I used at the beginning of the story. I think it made for a good ending even though I had no idea it was going to end that way. That’s my challenge: I never know what my characters are going to do to close the story. I just keep writing until the story is told.

Thank you for reading and commenting! It’s very common for a writer not to know how the story is going to end until the ending happens. We often need to let the characters go on their journey and tell us how it’s going to end. Forcing an ending often leads to an unsatisfying conclusion for the reader and the characters.

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5 ways to end a chapter or scene, for authors and writers

Posted by Janet Forbes | Feb 5, 2021 | Pro Tips | 0

5 ways to end a chapter or scene, for authors and writers

Trying to figure out how to end a chapter or scene for that story or novel you’ve been working on? Or maybe you’re looking to tune up the pacing of your stories, novels, and books? The way you finish your scenes and chapters can really influence —and fix— the pacing of your stories and novels. Scene endings are a great way to give impact to the most important moments of your story. And of course, they’ll keep your readers turning the pages of your book!

These methods are from my personal list of 5 ways to end a scene which I refer to ALL the time when I’m writing my own work. So let me know if you’re interested in the other five! Oh, and don’t miss the writing challenge at the bottom of this blog post, which helps you put these tips into practice, and up your writing craft!

1. Finish your chapter with a disaster!

Because nothing says “impactful” like ending a scene with a catastrophe! Here’s a great example:

“The blade slips into my side, my blood spilling onto the sheets, taking my life with it” —From The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle  by Stuart Turton

In this example, the main character LITERALLY dies! It’s a really impactful way to end a chapter and makes the reader want to instantly turn the page to find out what happens next. Disasters are a great way to instantly up the drama of your story, and ending a chapter with them can really highlight the tension. Finishing a chapter with a disaster is a great choice if you feel there isn’t enough conflict in your story, or the pacing is too slow. If you have disasters but want to give them more impact, you can shift them to the end of the chapter to make them more intense. This will highlight them in the mind of your reader. And it’ll make them feel “bigger” in your story.

Of course, you can’t kill off a main character in every chapter ending (unless, you know, you’re G.R.R. Martin 😉 ). So what kind of disasters can you use? Your disasters might be less intense, like an important object lost or broken, being thrown in jail, a building collapsing, or an injury. Whatever the setback, your readers will want to know how your main character reacts. What will they do next? How will they overcome this obstacle? And these questions are going to make them want to turn the page and keep reading.

A tip for dealing with disaster endings!

If you’ve used a disaster, you might think the next moment that should be shown is the solution. But showing the reaction of the protagonists is actually more important! This shows the personal impact of the disaster, which is great for two reasons. It’s a great way to have your audience connect with your main character. But it’s also a great way to show a character moment —to establish an emotional baseline or show growth and change. Take a beat to show the protagonist’s reaction, and you’ll get a double dose of awesome from your disaster!

Rather watch a video than read a blog? Check out the video version of this article here for the basics, then read on for the details! 

2. Use a cliff-hanger to end a chapter!

Of course, it’s not just a disaster that makes your reader want to turn the page —sometimes a Cliffhanger ending can be just as effective! Take this example:

“One minute to go and he’d be eleven. Thirty seconds…twenty…ten…nine – maybe he’d wake Dudley up, just to annoy him – three…two…one… BOOM! The whole shack shivered and Harry sat bolt upright, staring at the door. Someone was outside, knocking to come in.” —From Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

Who’s behind that door? And what the hell is about to happen?! That’s what the reader is thinking. The first few chapters of this book become increasingly intense as Hogwarts attempts to contact Harry until finally, someone arrives in person. Using the end of a scene to draw out the question is a great way to heighten the suspense of this moment, which makes it feel even more exciting. It increases the impact of the character introduction and makes it seem even more momentous.

In the Disaster ending, we know what’s happened, and we look forward to the reaction. But Cliffhanger scene endings leave a question hanging in the air at the end of the chapter. We —the reader— don’t know exactly what will happen, but we get the sense that it’s going to be terribly important. Stopping the chapter just before the new thing arrives is a great way to add extra emphasis to a big reveal, a new character, or another moment you want to feel more exciting.

How to deal with cliffhanger endings

The tip with this one is to make sure that, the next time we see this POV character, you deliver on the Cliffhanger. If you don’t, you risk diffusing your own tension! That essentially nerfs the cliffhanger, making it less effective. One of the old fashioned tropes, from early movies, was that cliffhanger endings would result in solutions that didn’t make sense. They’d set up the question “how will our heroes get out of this one”, which is great. But the punchline would either be a non-sequitur —something that didn’t really follow— or an “asspull”, a cheat of some kind. Either of these solutions can cause problems for readers, so make sure when you’re using a cliffhanger, you’ve already considered how the protagonists can deal with it.

3. Reveal a crucial piece of information

Another way to make an impact with scene or chapter endings is to use a revelation —to introduce new information to your readers which will make them gasp.

“You have four hosts after Edward Dance, including what’s left of the days of the Butler and Donald Davis. Be cautious, Mr Bishop, the footman isn’t going to rest until they’re all dead, and I’m not sure you can afford to lose a single one of them.” With that he closes the door. —From The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle  by Stuart Turton

In this example, this is the moment the main character learns how much time he has left to solve the main conflict of the novel. The reveal lets us know about the ticking clock of time pressure —if he doesn’t solve the problem quickly enough, he’ll fail. 

How to deal with “the reveal” chapter ending

For “the Reveal” to work well at the end of a chapter, the crucial thing is that the information MUST be important. Someone’s dinner order probably won’t cut it… (Unless it reveals something about their secret identity —an imposter Superman ordering Kryptonite Coleslaw, for example). But if it’s not something salient, then the audience won’t care much. Even more, if the audience doesn’t know WHY it’s important, it won’t have much of an impact. If we suddenly discover that the sidekick has been wearing a wig – and we don’t know why that’s significant —then the reveal falls flat. If it’s foreshadowed that all aliens wear wigs to hide their stripey heads, then suddenly the reader feels trepidation, shock, fear —all those lovely emotions we’re trying to evoke!  Ideally, if you want this to be a big moment, it should be a piece of information that’s been foreshadowed earlier in the story or novel. Otherwise, it’ll fall flat and the end of your chapter won’t have the impact you’d hoped.

Crucial information, like the example above, is very plot and character-specific. You might choose an “I am your father” character moment or the revelation of where the evil enemy will attack next. If you want to use a reveal, but don’t have any cool secrets in your story yet, then work backwards. Think about something which would make a great reveal, and then seed it backwards as a secret throughout your story!

Using World Anvil for writing If you’re writing a novel or series, make sure you check out World Anvil ’s worldbuilding and series bible features !  My husband and I lovingly designed World Anvil so that writers and worldbuilders can always organize and find their setting and character notes! It’s full of worldbuilding and character templates to get you inspired to write and worldbuild, and you can make timelines, family trees and turn your maps interactive with it too! Plus our novel writing software recently hit the market to critical acclaim, and it’s already being used by bestselling authors (which is super freaking cool!)! We’ve made it easy to use, clean and simple, and also —this super useful— it integrates completely with your world setting, so as you’re writing you can access all your character, setting, and plot information from one sleek interface! Personally, I’m kind of loving it. 

4. End a chapter with a quippy internal monologue

All the ways to end a scene I’ve listed so far have been things happening. And there’s nothing wrong with ending a scene or chapter like that —with a big moment. But it doesn’t always fit, and it can feel repetitive if every scene ends with a big action or reveal. So bring on, the quippy internal monologue:

Goddam money. It always ends up making you blue as hell. —From Catcher in the Rye  by J.D. Salinger

(Big recommendation for Catcher in the Rye, if you haven’t read it. Seriously — it’s not long, and it’s an amazing study in character voice.) 

This internal monologue fragment is a great way to end reaction scenes —when something big just happened, and your character has been trying to pivot and react to what’s going on. Think of it as an emotional recap, and a great excuse to hop into the private thoughts of your character, helping your audience connect to them. Whilst reveal, cliffhanger, and disaster scenes all speed things up, this is a great way to slow things down, and let your reader breathe a bit. And that’s super important. Nothing is going to get your reader tired and bored more quickly than endless action scenes with characters they don’t care about. This is a good way to flip things around and bring some character spice into the mix.

How to handle the internal monologue scene ending

The trick here, with this kind of ending, is usually for your point of view character to reflect on what’s just happened, or what’s happening. It’s an emotional beat, rather than an action beat. As an author, you can tune into their emotional state, and have them say something that’s totally in character voice. Whether they’re ironic, sarcastic, dadaistic, or ridiculously optimistic, this is the moment that you can capture their reaction in a pithy and, hopefully witty, way. It’s a gift in terms of showing your character in a new way and getting in their head. And it’ll endear them to your readers no end, especially if you choose a sentiment that most can connect with, like Salinger’s example above!

5. Use a symbolic image to sum it up!

Sometimes you don’t want to end a scene inside a character’s head, especially if you’ve spent a lot of time there recently. If you’ve dramatically set the scene to enhance the mood of what’s happening, you can use that to leave a strong impression of mood in your reader’s mind. 

The wind seemed suddenly colder. Rupert stared up at the new moon; already it seemed tinged with blue, like the first hint of leprosy. —From Blue Moon Rising by Simon R. Green

This is a moment to put your symbolism sensors into overdrive. You can use images like slamming doors,  sunrises or sunsets,  smashed glass,  hunted birds, or storms to  convey the mood of the scene and the emotions your point of view characters are going through. 

How to handle symbolic image chapter endings

The trick of these descriptions is to show what your POV characters are identifying with, and how they are interpreting the scene. The above is a great example of this. Staring at the moon is traditionally a romantic thing, but the use of the word “leprosy”, and the cold wind, leaves us in no doubt that things are sinister and wrong here. The moon doesn’t literally have leprosy, but that’s how it appears to Rupert. This gives us a great sense of time and place, whilst also linking back to the emotion and action. 

If your novel has been running at break-neck speed, this is also a great way to slow things down and reflect on what’s happened so far, as well as set the tone for upcoming events. It’s also a nice place to work in some of your worldbuilding and setting!

For more Symbolic ideas, check out our video on Immersive Worldbuilding – or scroll down for the writing exercise to help you end your scenes & chapters better!

Time for a writing challenge: how to end a chapter or scene!

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is:

Take a scene you’ve written before, and experiment with three different endings. Which speeds up the pace of the story? Which slows it down?

This isn’t designed to be canon for your final manuscript —it’s an exploration of how you can use scene endings to tweak the pacing and feel of a moment in your story.

This might involve cutting your scene shorter and ending earlier than you expected, or you might need to add an extra section to your scene for a different ending. 

Click here to submit the prompt, and make sure you check out other people’s entries too! There’s always someone doing something awesome over on World Anvil!

What’s your favorite way to end a chapter, or your pet hate for scene and chapter endings? Let me know in the comments!

Want more posts like this? Subscribe to the World Anvil blog!

About The Author

Janet Forbes

Janet Forbes

Janet Forbes (she/her) is a game developer, fantasy author, and (secretly) velociraptor, and has rolled dice since she was knee-high to an orc. In 2017 she co-founded World Anvil (https://www.worldanvil.com), the worldbuilding, writing and tabletop RPG platform which boasts a community of 1.5 million users. Janet was the primary author of The Dark Crystal RPG (2021) with the Henson Company and River Horse Games, and has also written for Kobold Press, Infinite Black and Tidebreaker. As a D&D performer she has played professionally for the likes of Wizards of the Coast, Modiphius and Wyrd Games, as well as being invited to moderate and speak on panels for GaryCon, TraCon, GenCon, Dragonmeet and more. Janet is also a fantasy author, and has published short fiction in several collections. You can shoot her a message @Janet_DB_Forbes on Twitter, and she’ll probably reply with rainbows and dinosaur emojis.

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100 Ways to End a Story (with examples)

how to end a story reddit

But where do you stop? Which sentences are the last sentences?

In this post, we’ll look at 100 ending lines from a diverse group of authors, both novelists and short story writers. We’ll identify how different types of endings contribute to a story. And, ultimately, we’ll determine how the author crafts a sense of satisfaction in their closing phrases.

After collecting many, many endings, the following categories emerged:

Cliffhanger

how to end a story reddit

Normally, writers think of using a cliffhanger at the end of a chapter. But they absolutely can be used at the end of a story or book, for a few reasons:

  • Pique the reader’s interest for the next book in the series
  • Uses the “in media res” technique to go out on a high point, rather than dribble to a conclusion
  • Extend the reader’s imagination beyond the story, so they finish hungry for more, and curious about the future of the storyline. It keeps the story alive, rather than closing it off.

“Lie back, Michael, my sweet.” She nodded briskly at Pauline. “If you’ll secure the strap, Nurse Shepherd, then I think we can begin.”

— Ian McEwan, “Pornography”

“I turned and looked past the neighborhood kids — my playmates — at the two men, the strangers. They were lean and seedy, unshaven, slouching behind the brims of their hats. One of them was chewing a toothpick. I caught their eyes: they’d seen it too.

I threw the first stone.”

— T. C. Boyle, “Rara Avis”

“Then his father walks toward the door stooping slightly and B stands aside to give him room to move. Tomorrow we’ll leave, tomorrow we’ll go back to Mexico City, thinks B joyfully. And then the fight begins.”

– Roberto Bolano, “Last Evenings on Earth”

how to end a story reddit

Whatever you’re ending on, it’s something you want to emphasize, right? So heighten that emphasis with repetition.

Here’s an exercise: take all the examples below and try rewriting them without any repetition. Just say the key word once. Doesn’t have the same ring, does it? In fact, it makes it seem like the middle of the story, just another unremarkable line.

It takes two or three repetitions before there’s a finality to it, like a bell tolling for the conclusion of the story.

“His feet are light and nimble. He never sleeps. He says that he will never die. He dances in light and in shadow and he is a great favorite. He never sleeps, the judge. He is dancing, dancing. He says that he will never die.”

— Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian

“Big flakes not falling in orderly rows, a dervishing mob that swirls, lifts, goes limp, noiselessly spatters the glass. Snow obscuring the usual view greeting me when I’m up at crazy hours to relieve an old man’s panicked kidneys or just up, up and wondering why, staring at blank, black windows of a hulking building that mirrors the twenty-story bulk of ours, up prowling instead of asleep in the peace. I hope you’re still enjoying, peace I wish upon the entire world, peace I should know better by now than to look for through a window, the peace I listen for beside you in the whispering of our tangled breaths.”

— John Edgar Wideman, “Microstories”

“I imagined the story of a girl made human. I imagined Tallie’s grave, forsaken and remote. I imagined banishing forever those sentiments that she chastened and refined. I imagined everyone I knew sick to the point of death. I imagined a creature even more slow-hearted than myself. I imagined continuing to write in this ledger, here; as though that were life; as though life were not elsewhere.”

— Jim Shepard, “The World to Come”

“Sometimes all humanity strikes me as lovely. I just want to reach out and stroke someone, and say, ‘There, there, it’s all right honey. There, there, there.’”

— Sandra Cisneros, “Never Marry a Mexican”

“That would be the man we’d spare. That would be the man who’d drop to his knees in the mud and, in the cloud of gun smoke, raise his hands in surrender. That would be the man who’d tell us who he was, where he’d come from and why.”

— Will Mackin, “Crossing the River No Name”

“In the desert, in the lightning, in his crumbling duplex, in the field, in the many rooms of night, Wild Turkey wakes up, he wakes up, he wakes up.”

— Arna Bontemps Hemenway “The Fugue”

“Then sometimes I get up and don my robe and go out into our quiet neighborhood looking for a magic thread, a magic sword, a magic horse.”

— Denis Johnson, “The Largesse of the Sea Maiden”

“Your time’s not up. Your time’s not even close to being up.”

— David Means, “The Chair “

Sense of Sound

how to end a story reddit

Good writers understand that sensory details are the lifeblood of fiction. And just as images are crucial ways to end a story (that’s the next section), you can also use sound as a way to dial up or dial down the end of your story.

A crescendo ends a story well because it makes the story’s end feel climatic. While a decrescendo eases you out of the story, giving a sense of closure to the reader. 

If you look at the examples below, especially Jones and Bausch, you see how they use sound as a stand-in for a character — a deceased mother’s footsteps echoing through time, a wife’s domestic duties that make the husband feel estranged from her.

So sound can often a way to wrestle with complex character conflicts.

“And even when the teacher turns me toward the classrooms and I hear what must be the singing and talking of all the children in the world, I can still hear my mother’s footsteps above it all.”

— Edward P. Jones, “The First Day”

“The mastiff’s howl tears through the estate, setting off the usual thousand and twelve strange little circuses that disrupt the science of slavery.”

— Patrick Chamoiseau, “The Old Man Slave and the Mastiff”

“A long silence and then, slowly, applause, soft at first, then waves of it, which on this old recording came across like a pounding rain. I was shivering. There was no question we were under water.”

— Daniel Alarcón, “The Bridge”

“She heard the barking of an old dog that was chained to the sycamore tree. The spurs of a cavalry officer clanged as he walked across the porch. There was the hum of bees, the musky odor of pinks filled the air.”

— Kate Chopin, The Awakening

“He shut his eyes. Listened to the small sounds she made in the kitchen, arranging her flowers, running the tap. Mary, he had said. But he could not imagine what he might have found to say if his voice had reached her.”

— Richard Bausch, “Aren’t You Happy for Me?”

Descriptions

how to end a story reddit

When you end a story, you’re helping the reader transition from the world of the story back into the real world. Sometimes that transition is easier if the last lines of the story don’t deal with the main characters, or plot, or themes, but instead talk about the universe of the story.

Namely: description. Try to describe a particular thing in the story which resonates with the main themes of your story. If you’re writing about father/son relationships, then end on the description of your character seeing a father walk with his son.

If you have a character sacrificing everything in the hopes of a big payday, then show that same idea in the animal world, for instance, pelicans divebombing for fish, like the Taylor Antrim example below. 

“They’ve forgotten, or left on purpose, a few things they don’t need, things I hold on to. Pictures the girls drew, shells they picked up at the beach, the last drops of a perfumed shower gel. Shopping lists in the faint, small script that the mother used, on other sheets of paper, to write all about us.”

— Jhumpa Lahiri, “The Boundary”

“His eyes went upward, looking again for some civilizing sign — better yet, for the rectangular peak of his building, like the needle of a compass, the darkness down here, the shadow of his life up there. Friedrich and Lana resting up for tomorrow. Paulette waiting for him posed on all fours in bed. They were trying. He was trying. But above him there was just sky and trees in all directions.”

— David Gilbert, “The Sightseers”

“And in the morning when the sun came up and the colors of the hill and its valley accelerated from gray and brown to red and green to white, the company agent gathered stones for his family and they breakfasted on snow.”

— Jim Crace, “The Prospect from Silver Hills”

“Boom-splash. The pelicans take these kamikaze plunges into the water. The way they hit, not one should survive — but of course they all do. They come up with their beaks full of fish.”

— Taylor Antrim, “Pilgrim Life”

Unspoken Dialogue

how to end a story reddit

Unspoken Dialogue is very similar to a cliffhanger. While a cliffhanger refuses to resolve plot , this Unspoken Dialogue technique refuses to resolve the dialogue .

There’s tension when a character wants to say something, but doesn’t.

If you’re trying to learn how to write good dialogue, it’s always important to remember that characters don’t often say exactly what they’re thinking, or even what they want to say.

Why does this work to conclude a story? Well, it highlights the weakness of the character, how they are not doing what they want to be doing. They are holding back, and perhaps they will regret it later. 

“I wanted to say she’d lied to us all, she’d faked it about the dog, as if it mattered whether the animal spoke, as if love were about the truth, as if he would love her less — and not more — for pretending to talk to a dog.”

— Francine Prose, “Talking Dog”

“Tell more, more, I want to say to Eduardo but do not say because he seems ready to leave. Tell me about Garcilaso and about how things went well for him.”

— Joseph O’Neill, “The Sinking of the Houston”

“They are always very interested to hear that you don’t read music. Once, you almost said— to a sneaky fellow from the Daily News, who was inquiring— you almost turned to him and said Motherfucker I AM music. But a lady does not speak like that, however, and so you did not.”

— Zadie Smith, “Crazy They Call Me”

“She begins to scream, her face turning even redder, you cannot hear or understand what she is saying but you know she hates your father, hates you, hates many, many people. You want to help your father, the man who has only recently come back into your life, clean-shaven and speaking of God, you want to run toward him and defend him and protect him, but now he is holding out his hand to the man again, he has taken off his hat and is holding it out toward the man. The woman is now silent. The man takes the hat, a brand-new fedora with a feather, and puts it on his head. And looks at you, as if for the first time.”

— Justin Bigos, “Fingerprints”

Asking Questions

how to end a story reddit

A question is one of the most popular ways to end a story (look at all the examples below!). I could even add more quite easily, like the question to conclude Margaret Atwood’s book, “Handmaid’s Tale”: “Are there any questions?”

But if you use this technique, I would recommend following these three guidelines:

  • Must not have an easy answer
  • Must resonate with the main themes of your book
  • Must strike an emotional chord (look at the Russel Banks example). 

“But why are you invested in other people’s stories? You too must be unable to fill in the gaps. Can’t you be satisfied with your own dreams?”

— Antonio Tabucchi, “A Riddle”

“And who would she tell her stories to while he was gone? Who would listen?”

— Russel Banks, “My Mother’s Memoirs, My Father’s Lie, and Other True Stories”

“Then in the space of a wet blink, the gap between the trees would close and the mown grass disappear, a violent indigo cloud would cover the sun and history, gross history, daily history, would forget. Is this how it would be?”

— Julian Barnes, “Evermore”

“I imagined John-Jin’s girder underneath me. I wondered, in my rage, if you took that one piece away, would everything fall?”

— Rose Tremain, “John-Jin”

If a blind man could play basketball, surely we…If he had known Doc’s story would it have saved them? He hears himself saying the words. The ball arches from Doc’s fingertips, the miracle of it sinking. Would she have believed any of it?”

— John Edgar Wideman, “Doc’s Story”

“Safer and better to have no freedom, maybe, but no, you wouldn’t say that. The humming stopped when he flicked the light switch by the door. No you wouldn’t say that, would you? In the dark of the hall he could not see his way; he went toward the vague light of the front window with one hand on the wall. No you wouldn’t but what would you say?”

— Madison Smartt Bell, “Witness”

“Who was it that thought up that idea, the idea that had made today better than yesterday? Who loved him enough to think that up? Who loved him more than anyone else in the world loved him?

— George Saunders, “Puppy”

“Where was she now, this Clara? What had become of her, this ardent, hopeful girl in her white dress, surrounded by her family, godparents, friends, that her Bible should end up in a Goodwill bin? Even if she no longer read it, or believed it, she wouldn’t have thrown it away, would she? Had something happened? Ah, girl, where were you?”

— Tobias Wolff, “Bible”

“He reached for the telephone and dialed his home number. ‘Rhona,’ he said in the quaking receiver. ‘Would you like to see the juvenile tuataras? The babies?’”

— Barbara Anderson, “Tuataras”

“But for the other man, who would be watching the night fall around the orange halo of the street lamps with neither longing nor dread, what did the future offer but the comfort of knowing that he would, when it was time for his daughter to carry out her plan of revenge, cooperate with a gentle willingness?”

— Yiyun Li, “A Man Like Him”

how to end a story reddit

You can’t write good fiction without making your characters feel things (and your reader feel things). So here, we see authors ending stories by showing the final arc of their character’s emotions.

Some of these characters have emotional epiphanies, feeling something for the first time. Others have felt it all along but perhaps only now have been able to admit it to themselves. 

But if character arc and character change are essential for stories, it makes sense that their emotional journey would conclude the narrative.

“Even so, I sat there gazing up at the granite outcrops of Spruce Clove streaked in evening gold, I had an almost overpowering sense of being looked at myself, stared at in uncomprehending astonishment by some wild creature standing in the doorway.”

— James Lasdun, “Oh Death”

“I stand here shameless in ways he has never seen me. I am free, afloat, watching somebody else.”

— Bharati Mukherjee, “A Wife’s Story”

“She has done an outrageous thing, but she doesn’t feel guilty. She feels light and peaceful and filled with charity and temporarily without a name.”

— Margaret Atwood, “Hairball”

how to end a story reddit

Paul Harding, who won the Pulitzer Prize for “Tinkers,” said that contrast is the essential technique of music, painting, and storytelling. 

Below, we see contrasts between:

  • chill cats and stressed-out humans
  • the busyness of day with the solitude of night
  • the flowers of love with the chants for the dead. 

When you contrast something, you throw it into higher relief. A happy person doesn’t seem exceptionally happy until you see her side by side with a depressed person.

Contrast offers that extra emphasis — much like repetition — to make the reader feel satisfied that this ending resolves the story.

“She hears a distant siren, the wind in the trees, the bass beat from a passing car. Please, she thinks. Please. She is about to go inside for a flashlight when she hears the familiar bell and then sees the cat slinking up from the dark woods, her manner cool and unaffected.”

— Jill McCorkle, “Magic Words”

“Susanne sat on the couch, surrounded by her family while out in the night, partner to the extraordinary, Roy held a shovel made for digging deeper in the dirt.”

— Samantha Hunt, “The Yellow”

“By day she entertained a constant stream of visitors. At night her father kept vigil beside her bed.”

— Jennifer Haigh, “Paramour”

“Violins and lit candles revolved in the sky. Leo ran forward with flowers outthrust. Around the corner, Salzman, leaning against a wall, chanted prayers for the dead.”

— Bernard Malamud, “The Magic Barrel”

how to end a story reddit

Marcel Proust’s memories brought back by the taste of a madeleine are probably the most famous memories in literature, but stories have always used memory to make readers nostalgic, evoke the senses, and make us feel the bite of time.

When you end a story with memory, it ties the whole story together — past is united with the present.

In some ways, ending a story with a memory is the opposite of a cliffhanger — memory looks at the past, while a cliffhanger anticipates the future.

Memory allows the writer to skip around in time to find the perfect character moment to end the story — which could be much, much earlier in their life, or only a few years back, or only last week.

Perhaps in the character’s current life, there’s no event that perfectly captures the emotion you’re going for, so mine the past for it. 

“I no longer remembered the day we married. Only the day I knew we would, those moments with my heart warm and rapt, the silent promise of the frozen world, the elm chafing in its coat of ice.”

— Karen Brown, “Galatea”

“…She will be secretly glad, relieved that time is passing, that Paris is again becoming nothing more than a word she might see on the cover of a glossy magazine or on a cable travel channel, certainly not a place where she once spent a few breaths of her life, and she will hardly remember the way the Seine sliced the city in half, a radiant curving knife, merciless and perfect.”

— Victoria Lancelotta, “The Anniversary Trip”

“He remembers waking up the morning after they bought the car, seeing it, there in the drive, in the sun, gleaming.”

— Raymond Carver, “Are These Actual Miles”

“Who will remember?”

— Alex Rose, “Ostracon”

“She will see the garden that day and the tears shining in her sister’s large blue eyes and remember her unanswered cry for help.”

— Sheila Kohler, “Magic Man”

“And as for the scar, I’m glad it is not on Nyamekye. Any time I see it I only recall one afternoon when I sat with my chin in my breast before a Mallam came, and after a Mallam went out.”

— Ama Ata Aidoo, “A Gift from Somewhere”

The Epiphany

how to end a story reddit

The epiphany ending is the classic story ending. After everything the character has gone through, what have they learned?

This is the chance to show that the journey has not been in vain, that your characters have changed and learned and grown because of this journey. 

Epiphanies are particularly useful for short stories, rather than novels, because short stories have less runway for plot. So you can’t have a huge murder or birth or world catastrophe solved at the end of a short story (the way most novels do), but you can show the character realizing something about themselves, others, or the world. 

“He closed the door carefully, not slamming it. Clea and I waited an appropriate interval, then turned and clung to each other in a kind of rapture. Understanding, abruptly and at last, just what it takes to be a King. How much, in the end it actually costs.”

— Jonathan Lethem, “The King of Sentences”

“He was shot five or six times, but being such a big man and such a strong man, he lived long enough to recognize the crack of the guns and know that he was dead.”

— Nathan Englander, “The Twenty-Seventh Man”

“Years later, as an adult, I realized that what my little sister had confided to me in a quiet voice in the wind cave was indeed true. Alice really does exist in the world. The March hare, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat— they all really exist.”

— Haruki Murakami, “The Wind Cave”

“— How d’you like my lion? Isn’t he beautiful? He’s made by a Zimbabwean artist, I think the name’s Dube.

— But the foolish interruption becomes revelation. Dumile, in his gaze — distant, lingering, speechless this time — reveals what has overwhelmed them. In this room. The space, the expensive antique chandelier, the consciously simple choice of reed blinds, the carved lion: all are on the same level of impact phenomena undifferentiated, undecipherable. Only the food that fed their hunger was real.”

— Nadine Gordimer, “Comrades”

“Sarah looked at him with an intent, halted expression, as though she were listening to a dialogue no one present was engaged in. Finally she said, “There are robbers. Everything has changed.”

— Joy Williams, “The Farm”

“And that was it. Somehow it didn’t really matter, finding out. Two years earlier, it would have changed my life. But on that day, I suppose the only thing I felt was some small measure of contentment for her: that he had, indeed, come back for her, just like she always said he would. They were different after all, destined to be together. I thanked Allen for bringing her things, watched him ride away on his motorcycle, and went inside to have dinner with my father.”

— Jess Walter, “Mr. Voice”

“And then, as if he had forgotten that she had already moved on to other things, as if we were still sitting across from each other, deep in one of our conversations without beginning, middle, or end, Room wrote that the last thing that had surprised her was that when Ershadi is lying in the grave he’s dug and his eyes finally drift closed and the screen goes black, it isn’t really black at all. If you look closely, you can see the rain falling.”

— Nicole Krauss, “Seeing Ershadi”

“‘No problem,’ the waitress sang, ‘no problem at all,’ replacing the girl’s fork, bending to snatch the soiled one off the floor. Smiling hard but not making eye contact with anyone. When she retreated leaving Richard alone with his son and the crying girl, it occurred to him, with the delayed logic of a dream, that the waitress must have thought he was the bad guy in all this.”

– Emma Cline, “Northeast Regional”

“But I remember you. I remember when we were so close that people couldn’t tell us apart. I remember your parents’ phone number, your neatly folded cutoffs and your constant fear of not being special. I remember when you started claiming that fictive characters are way better than friends, since they are less annoying, more interesting and never die. You stopped returning my calls. When I needed you the most you were nowhere to be found and when I died you started seeing me everywhere. On sidewalks, in shop windows, on balconies. So you decided to write my story. You dress me in cutoffs. You force extreme amounts of apple juice into me. You retell the most painful week of my life as it were a never-ending bachelor party. And it is not until the end. About. Here. That you realize what you’ve done. I’m not bitter, Miro. I’m just dead.”

— Jonas Hassen Khemiri, “As You Would Have Told It to Me (Sort Of) If We Had Known Each other Before You Died”

“It took some time for me to understand that Elida’s body had not been satiated on mine, that she wasn’t purring because she swallowed my heart.”

— Louise Erdrich, “The Big Cat”

“I used to think that all my emotions belonged in the past, to history, but I know that I yearn for the future just like everyone else. Even as life draws to close, I realize that I have never understood myself completely.

But now it certainly is too late to do more, to be more, in this lifetime.”

— Zhang Jie, “An Unfinished Record”

I am born at noon the next day. My mother tells me this is the first thing she did: she checked the clock. I am still attached to her when she looks. We are not yet two when she begins to keep track of me, the seconds I have been alive and then, after she cuts through the cord herself, cleaving my body from hers with a kitchen knife, the seconds I have been on my own.

This is what women do, she says.

By which she means she understands that one day I will leave her too. Lift off the ground, think myself beyond gravity.

—Aria Beth Sloss, “North”

The Unhappy Ending

how to end a story reddit

The ending is one of your last chances to make the reader feel something. And while the happy ending is always a classic crowd-pleasing, I find that it’s often easier to make the reader feel sorrow.

Happiness is a tough sell, particularly when writing short stories. I think if you were going to survey 1000 short stories, a lot more would end sad than would end happy. Novels are probably the opposite — many more end happy than sad. 

It’s mainly because of the length. When you’re writing short, you don’t have the time to acheive happiness without it feeling cheesy. While in the space of a novel, the happy ending feels earned. 

“Now they were both dead, and the city was dirty and crumbling, and the man I was traveling with was sero-positive, and so was I. Mexico’s hopes seemed as dashed as mine, and all the goofy innocence of that first thrilling trip abroad had died, my boyhood hopes for love and romance faded, just as the blue in Kay’s lapis had lost its intensity year after year until it ended up as white and small as a blind eye. ”

— Edmund White, “Cinnamon Skin”

“Things are as they have always been. Whoever seeks a fixed point in the current of time and the seasons would do well to listen to the sounds of the night that never change. They come to us from out there.

— Amos Oz, “Where the Jackals Howl”

“She would be invisible, of course. No one would hear her. And nothing has happened, really that hasn’t happened before.”

— Margaret Atwood, “Wilderness Tips”

“There were women around Jesus when He died, the two Marys. They couldn’t do anything for Him. But neither could the men, who had all run away.”

— Robert Olen Butler, “Mr. Green”

“I think of the chimp, the one with the talking hands.

In the course of the experiment, that chimp had a baby. Imagine how her trainers must have thrilled when the mother, without prompting, began to sign to her newborn.

Baby, drink milk.

Baby, play ball.

And when the baby died, the mother stood over the body, her wrinkled hands moving with animal grace, forming again and again the words: Baby, come hug, Baby, come hug, fluent now in the language of grief.”

— Amy Hempel, In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried

“It was not a happy life, but it was all that was left to them, and they took it up without complaint, for they knew they were powerless against some Will infinitely stronger than their own.”

— Paul Laurence Dunbar, The Sport of the Gods

“What would burst forth? A monkey’s paw? A lady? A tiger?

But there was nothing at all.”

— Lorrie Monroe, “Referential”

The Waiting Ending

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What does it mean when you have a character waiting at the end of a story? Well, they are expecting the future. But the reader can’t go to the future with them.

It signals a small break in the storyline: this current story has ended, but the future one has not begun. It’s like the character is about to step into narrative limbo.

A “waiting” ending is definitely a quiet ending. It takes advantage in a lull in the storyline to bow out and conclude. 

If you write a waiting ending, pay careful attention to subtext:

  • Perhaps this character will be waiting a long time. 
  • Perhaps they are the waiting type of character — a passive character. 
  • Perhaps waiting signals a sad ending — what they wanted most didn’t arrive by the end

“I measured the passing of time by the progress of the fires in the distant north. My old man gave me daily updates, and I pretended to listen. Five hundred, a thousand, two thousand fires. After a month they had burned out, and I was still waiting.”

— Daniel Alarcón, “The Idiot President”

“He looked toward the eastern sky. It seemed he’d been running a week’s worth of nights, but he saw the stars hadn’t begun to pale. The first pink smudges on the far Ridgeline were a while away, perhaps hours. The night would linger long enough for what would come or not come. He waited.”

— Ron Rash, “Into the Gorge”

“The ice plant was watery-looking and fat, and at the edge of my vision I could see the tips of my father’s shoes. I was sixteen years old and waiting for the next thing he would tell me.”

— Ethan Canin, “The Year of Getting to Know Us”

“Wait here, wait here!” he cried and jumped up and began to run for help toward a cluster of light she saw in the distance ahead of him. “Help! Help!” he shouted, but his voice was thin, scarcely a thread of sound. The lights drifted farther away the faster he ran and his feet moved numbly as if they carried him nowhere. The tide of darkness seemed to sweep him back to her, postponing from moment to moment his entry into the world of guilt and sorrow.”

— Flannery O’Connor, “Everything that Rises Must Converge”

“Walking to the end of the hallway by the kitchen, he seated himself against the wall. He sat there quietly, waiting for Case to emerge.”

— Bradford Tice, “Missionaries”

“Joshua wondered what they would do now. The need he felt was like when he stepped on the sliver of glass, and his mother pulled at the skin with her tweezers, and pushed them inside, until she found the glass. It was like when she told him to get ready, to squeeze his father’s hand. Clenching his teeth, closing his eyes, waiting.”

— Mike Meginnis, “Navigators”

Figurative Language & Poetic Devices

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Aristotle said that comparison of two unlike things was the essence of genius. If so, the writers below are all geniuses. 

Beauty has its own charm. The examples below use extended metaphors, multiple similes, and other examples of literary devices to cast a spell of beauty over the reader. 

And these comparisons are often symbolic of the characters and the events of the story (for instance, the birds in the Ann Beattie story).

“She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. Pulled it from around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see.”

— Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

“Nettie lay there beside him, her breath blowing on his shoulder as they studied the stars far above the field — little pinpoint holes punched through the night sky like the needle holes around the tiny stitches in the quilting. Nettie. Nettie Slade. Her dress had self-covered buttons, hard like seed corn.”

— Bobbie Ann Mason, “Wish”

“Angela was remembering all this, and feeling such a strong surge of sorrowful loss, and at the same time she was studying with interest the miraculous rescue of St. Placidus from drowning, painted on the wall in the sacristy in San Miniato. St. Placidus was rolling fatalistically amid the blue waves of his pond while one of his comrades, endowed with special powers by St. Benedict, came walking across the water to save him. In the picture it looked like such a harmless little point, carved into the earth as neatly as a circle of stamped-out pastry, or a hole cut into the ice for fishing.”

— Tessa Hadley, “Cecilia Awakened”

“He looked at his wife, whom he loved, whom he looked forward to convincing, and felt as though he were diving headfirst into happiness. It was a circus act, a perilous one. Happiness was a narrow take. You had to make sure you cleared the lip.”

— Elizabeth McCracken, “Thunderstruck”

“In the flood of flame-colored light their flesh turned coral.”

— Helen Simpson, “Heavy Weather”

“Louisa sat, prayerfully numbering her days, like an uncloistered nun.”

— Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, “A New England Nun”

“When she turned back into the empty room she looked as though youth had touched her on the lips.”

— Edith Wharton, “The Angel at the Grave”

“In time, his breathing changed, and hers did. Calm sleep was now a missed breath — a small sound. They might have been two of the birds she so often thought of, flying separately between cliffs— birds whose movement, which might seem erratic, was always private, and so took them where they wanted to go.”

— Ann Beattie, “In Amalfi”

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Brene Brown’s TED talk about vulnerability is one of the most watched TED talks of all time. Her thesis is simple: people respond to vulnerability.

It holds true in real life just as it does in fiction.

When a character keeps a secret, reveals a secret, or makes a confession, the reader feels closer to them. Even if we disagree with them, we feel like we know them. 

“The secret died with him, for Pavageau’s lips were ever sealed.”

— Alice Dunbar-Nelson, “The Stones of the Village”

“Very often I sold my blood to buy wine. Because I’d shared dirty needles with low companions, my blood was diseased. I can’t estimate how many people must have died from it. When I die myself, B.D. And Dundun, the angels of God I sneered at, will come to tally up my victims and tell me how many people I killed with my blood.”

— Denis Johnson, “Strangler Bob”

Powerful Dialogue

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Here’s some advice on how to write a good dialogue ending:

  • Pay attention to subtext . If any place in your story needs dialogue with a double meaning, it’s the ending. It should have a plain interpretation, but also resonate with some deeper issues of plot.
  • Make sure it’s the protagonist who gets the final word . In almost all cases, it’s the protagonist or one of the main characters who speak last. A minor character wouldn’t make sense.

“Please come back inside mom! Please get out of the street!”

— Antonya Nelson, “Chapter Two”

“Darling, the angels have themselves a lifetime to come to us.”

— Edwidge Danticat, “Night Women”

“Nemecia held a wineglass up to the window and turned it. “See how clear?” Shards of light moved across her face.”

— Kirstin Valdez Quade, “Nemecia”

“But I had my eyes closed. I thought I’d keep them that way for a little longer. I thought it was something I ought to do.

‘Well?’ He said, ‘Are you looking?’

My eyes are still closed. I was in my house. I knew that. But I didn’t feel like I was inside anything.

‘It’s really something,’ I said.”

— Raymond Carver, “Cathedral”

“My dear,” replied Valentine, “has not the Count just told us that all human wisdom is contained in the words ‘Wait and hope!”

— Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo

“There were lots of old people going around then with ideas in their heads that didn’t add up — though I suppose Old Annie had more than most. I recall her telling me another time that girl in the Home had a baby out of a big boil that burst on her stomach, and it was the size of a rat and had no life in it, but they put it in the oven and it puffed up the right size and baked to a good color and started to kick its legs (Ask an old woman to reminisce and you get the whole ragbag, is what you might be thinking by now.)

I told her that wasn’t possible, it must have been a dream.

‘Maybe so’ she said, agreeing with me for once. ‘I did used to have the terriblest dreams.’”

— Alice Munro, “A Wilderness Station”

A Character in Denial

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The reader gets a sick sense of delight when final lines reveal something a character refuses to acknowledge.

“Maybe it wasn’t such a terrible idea. Maybe it could make them happy. He found a mark on Miriam’s shimmering pale dress and followed it through the trees.”

— Sarah Kokernot, “M & L”

“His gut told him that his mother-in-law knew what had happened that day in the car. Come to think of it, she had never once mentioned the day of the accident to him. She had never even asked about it. His mother-in-law turned her cold gaze back to the plant. To put his crazy thoughts to rest, Oghi told himself that he just really liked plants. He could not think why that might be.”

— Hye-young Pyun, “Caring for Plants”

The Unknown

how to end a story reddit

These final lines endear readers as characters reveal what remains mysterious:

“But as I write this it occurs to me that I don’t know where I ever got that idea. In fact, I have no memory of whether the desk arrived to me with the drawer locked. It’s possible that I unknowingly pushed in the cylindrical lock years ago, and that whatever is in there belongs to me.”

— Nicole Krauss, “From the Desk of Daniel Varsky”

“’Listen to me,’ he said, expelling all his breath with the words. Two ragged breaths later he tried again, but Jill moved her hand from his forehead to his mouth. ‘Help me,’ he said into her fingers. But the words were whispered, and she mistook them for a kiss and smiled.”

— Angela Pneuman, “Occupational Hazard”

“He knew he was at the beginning of something, though just then he couldn’t say exactly what.”

— Bret Anthony Johnston, “Encounters with Unexpected Animals”

“I do not know where this voyage I have begun will end. I do not know which direction I will take. I dropped the package on a park bench and started walking.”

— Bharati Mukherjee, “The Management of Grief”

how to end a story reddit

If anywhere it’s time to tell the truth, it’s the ending.

Have your characters spill their guts and reveal everything at the end. Or have the narrator offer wisdom or the naked truth. 

“It’s the kind of impossible story that holds a family together. You tell it over and over again; and with the passage of time, the tale becomes more unbelievable and at the same time increasingly difficult to disprove, a myth about the life you carry.”

– Greg Hrbek, “Sagittarius”

“As the manual often states, it’s my future. And it’s the only one I get.”

— Diane Cook, “Moving On”

“I’ve begun to appreciate just how much work parents invest in their children, and wives in their husbands; it’s only fair for the investor to become the beneficiary.”

— Katie Chase, “Man and Wife”

“…I survive. It’s only one thing. But it’s also everything.

Pick yourself up.

Start over again.”

— Megan Miranda, All the Missing Girls

“She was knickerless. She was victorious. She was a truly modern female.”

— Nicola Barker, “G-string”

“I can stay. I can lie down. Let the snow fall on my face. Let its hands be tender.

Or I can walk, try to find my way in darkness.

I’m a grown woman, an orphan, I have these choices.”

— Melanie Rae Thon, “The Snow Thief”

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One thought on “ 100 Ways to End a Story (with examples) ”

Excellent collection of endings, types… and quite clear and efficient comments. Thank you.

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How to End a Story

by The Magic Violinist | 26 comments

Endings are hard. Nobody likes to say goodbye, and saying goodbye in a story is especially hard. The pressure is on to get that last part just right and determine how to end a story well.

How to End a Story

When there are so many possibilities for a conclusion, how do you know which one is right for your story?

4 Classic Possibilities for How to End a Story

Before you can choose an ending, you need to figure out what your choices are. Here are a few basic ones to get you started.

1. The “happily ever after” ending

The classic, feel-good ending. Disney is the master at this. Every character meets their goals (except for the villain, of course), the romantic couple gets together (they might even get married), and you finish the story feeling like you can accomplish anything.

This sort of ending goes along best with fairytales and most children’s stories. That’s not to say stories for adults can’t have this kind of ending, too, but it works to perfection when the story already has a light and happy quality to it. You don’t want to write a depressing plot only to wrap it all up in the last chapter. It’ll throw off your reader and make the conclusion seem far-fetched.

2. The tragic ending

The protagonist’s main goal doesn’t go as planned, curveballs are thrown, and tragedy strikes. These are tricky to write, because there’s a fine line between writing a tragic, artistic ending and a conclusion that will leave your reader in a hopeless slump.

If you’re planning on having an unhappy ending, you’ll need to foreshadow that throughout the story. Have a slightly gloomy, ominous tone from the very beginning. Your reader might not expect it, exactly, but it won’t come as a total shock, making it an easier ending to swallow.

But , remember to have some bright moments, little nuggets of happiness the reader can hang onto after the story is finished.

3. The ambiguous ending

This isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s one of my favorites. The ambiguous ending goes well with an “indie” story. A simple plot—usually something contemporary, but not necessarily—works best, because it focuses most on the characters, leaving a lot up to the reader’s imagination when it comes to what happens after the story is finished.

If you do decide to go with this ending, remember that there’s a huge difference between ambiguity and unfinished business. If you drop the plot too suddenly, the reader wonders if there are pages missing from the end of the book, if something’s gone wrong. What you want to do is drop enough hints that someone can come close to determining what will happen, but they’ll never know for sure.

4. The bittersweet ending

Sometimes this can even pair with the ambiguous ending, but it doesn’t have to. This conclusion might look like the protagonist failing to meet their goal, but finding something else along the way. Maybe the main couple doesn’t get together, but they’ve found happiness apart from each other.

Make the ending unexpected, but hopeful. The reader will be pleasantly surprised and leave the story with a sense of calm and satisfaction.

End Your Story Well

Maybe you knew how your story would end when you started writing it. Maybe you're on the next-to-last page and you  still don't know. Whatever the case, these four options for how to end a story can get your imagination flowing. How will  your story end?

What’s your favorite ending in a story? Why do you like it? Let us know in the comments .

Choose an ending from above that’s out of your comfort zone. Maybe it’s not your favorite or you’ve never written it before. Now, here's your story prompt:

The lizard was enormous, at least three feet long. It also wasn't in its tank.

Write the conclusion before you write anything else. Write for fifteen minutes . When you’re done, if you’d like, share your ending in the comments . Be sure to give your fellow writers some feedback, too. Have fun!

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The Magic Violinist

The Magic Violinist is a young author who writes mostly fantasy stories. She loves to play with her dog and spend time with her family. Oh, and she's homeschooled. You can visit her blog at themagicviolinist.blogspot.com . You can also follow The Magic Violinist on Twitter (@Magic_Violinist).

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How to End A Story So It Resonates With Readers | Writer’s Relief

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How to End A Story So It Resonates With Readers | Writer’s Relief

All good things must come to an end, including the best stories. But writing a fitting resolution isn’t easy—how do you properly end a story? In this article Writer’s Relief found on LitHub.com , author Allegra Hyde reviews some of the best exit strategies for your fiction. She also discusses some of the most popular story conclusions, including the endings of Middlemarch and One Hundred Years of Solitude .

Click here to read more about how to write an unforgettable ending to your story.

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Guides • Perfecting your Craft

Last updated on Mar 17, 2023

Book Endings: The 6 Ways That All Stories End

When we first start to read books, we quickly understand that books have two types of ending: happy and sad. But as we develop our literary palate and read deeper, it soon becomes apparent that endings are somewhat more nuanced than that.

In this guide, we will dive into the many types of endings that novelists have at their disposal — and reveal the impact they can have on the reader. Then in the next part of this guide, we'll give you some tried-and-true tips for writing an impactful ending for your own book.

Here are 6 common types of book endings:

1. Resolved Ending

2. unresolved ending, 3. ambiguous ending, 4. unexpected ending, 5. tied ending, 6. expanded ending.

Note : as this post deals with the endings of novels, there will be spoilers.

Wrap it up and put a bow on it. A resolved ending answers all the questions and ties up any loose plot threads. There is nothing more to tell because the characters’ fates are clearly presented to the reader.

Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude provides a great example of a resolved ending. In his Nobel Prize-winning book, García Márquez intertwines the tale of the Buendia family and the small town where they live, from its creation until its destruction. 

Before reaching the final line, however, he had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that the city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.

With this ending, García Márquez effectively ends all hope of a sequel by destroying the entire town and killing off all the characters. Unlike a Deus Ex Machina ending, where everything is suddenly and abruptly resolved , this is an ending that fits with the themes and plot of this book. Though not exactly expected, it brings an appropriate closure to the Buendia family and the town of Macondo.

A cloud storm

Why might you use a resolved ending? This sort of conclusion is common to standalone books — especially romance novels, which thrive on ‘happily ever afters’ — or the final installment in a series. 

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This type of ending asks more questions than answers and, ideally, leaves the reader wanting to know how the story will continue. It lets them reflect on what the hero has been through and pushes them to imagine what is still to happen. There will be some resolution, but it will, most likely, pose questions at the end and leave some doors open.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince does exactly that. After years of confronting Voldemort, Harry finally knows the secret to bring him down once and for all. However, the road will only become more dangerous and will require more sacrifices than anybody thought. 

His hand closed automatically around the fake Horcrux, but in spite of everything, in spite of the dark and twisting path he saw stretching ahead for himself, in spite of the final meeting with Voldemort he knew must come, whether in a month, in a year, or in ten, he felt his heart lift at the thought that there was still one last golden day of peace left to enjoy with Ron and Hermione. 

Like Harry, readers know that a final meeting between him and Voldemort is coming and that everything will change for him and his friends. As a stand-alone book, this ending would probably be unsatisfactory. But as the penultimate book in the series, it leaves the readers wanting more.

The main characters of Harry Potter, staring into the horizon

Why might you use an unresolved ending? Because it can create anticipation and excitement for what comes next, you may want to use an unresolved ending if you are writing a series of books . Who doesn’t love (and hate) a good cliffhanger?

An ambiguous ending leaves the reader wondering about the “what ifs.” Instead of directly stating what happens to the characters after the book ends, it allows the reader to speculate about what might come next — without establishing a right or wrong answer. Things don't feel quite unresolved , more just open to interpretation.

The first installment of The Giver series, by Lois Lowry, uses this ending. The Giver focuses on Jonas, a teenager living in a colorless yet seemingly ideal society, and on the way he uses his newly assigned position as the Receiver of Memories to unravel the truth about his community and forge a new path for himself. 

Downward, downward, faster, faster. Suddenly he was aware with certainty and joy that below, ahead, they were waiting for him; and that they were waiting, too, for the baby. For the first time, he heard something that he knew to be music. He heard people singing.

Behind him, across vast distances of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too. But perhaps it was only an echo.

Readers will wonder what happens to Jonas once he finishes his journey and what happens to the town and people he left behind. There are three more companion books with more plot points , but the story centering on Jonas is finished. Readers will see him again, but only as a side character, and will neither find out how he rebuilt his life nor how his old community fared. There might be speculation, but an answer is never clearly given: that is left to the imagination.

When might you use an ambiguous ending? If you want your readers to reflect on the meaning of your book, then this is the ending for you. While a resolved ending may satisfy readers, it probably won’t give them much pause at all. However, by trying to unpick an ambiguous ending, they get closer to what you, as the author, are trying to say.

If you have led your readers to believe that your book will end one way, but at the last possible moment, you add a plot twist that they didn’t see coming, you’ve got yourself an unexpected ending! For an author, this type of ending can be a thrill to write, but it must be handled with care. Handled poorly, it will frustrate and infuriate your reader.

An unexpected ending must be done so that, while surprising, still makes sense and brings a satisfactory conclusion.

A popular novel that makes use of this ending is And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie , where she tells the tale of ten murders without an obvious culprit that took place in an isolated island mansion. [Spoilers coming!] The last lines of the novel read:

When the sea goes down, there will come from the mainland boats and men.

And they will find ten dead bodies and an unsolved problem on Soldier Island.

Lawrence Wargrave

The ways in which the murders occur let the reader suspect the guilt of just about every character — and then, in an epic twist, they all die, leaving the murders unexplained. It is not until the message in the bottle arrives that the true culprit is revealed, as one of the victims no less! The ending is satisfactory to the reader because it brings the plot to a close in a way that, though surprising, invites them to think back on how the murderer set things up for the remaining deaths, and ultimately makes sense.

the cast of 2015's and then there were none

Why might you use an unexpected ending? These ‘twist endings’ are the bread and butter of mystery novels . Just be aware that while fans of the genre will expect a twist — they won't want one that comes entirely out of nowhere. To execute a flawless unexpected ending, you must lay groundwork throughout your book so that the reader can reflect on the plot and go, “ah, but of course!”

Much of storytelling is cyclical. Sometimes it’s a metaphorical return home, such as in The Hero’s Journey . In other cases, the cycle is quite literal — the story ends where it began.

Erin Morgenstern uses this ending in her book The Night Circus , where she tells of a duel between two magicians that takes place within Le Cirque des Rêves , a traveling circus and, arguably, a character on its own. 

Widget takes a sip of his wine and puts his glass down on the table. He sits back in his chair and steadily return the stare at him. Taking his time as though he has all of it in the world, in the universe, from the days when tales meant more than they do now, but perhaps less than they will someday, he draws a breath that releases the tangled knot of words in his heart, and they fall from his lips effortlessly.

‘The circus arrives without warning.’

With what may be the most famous lines of the book, “The circus arrives without warning,” this novel closes the characters’ storylines the same way the book begins. In both cases, the words are used to start telling a story; in the beginning, it serves as an introduction to the book, the words filled with wonder and expectation. In the end, it serves as a resolution, the words filled with hope for those who remain. Additionally, Morgenstern later uses a few more pages to finish the second-person narrative of the reader’s own visit to the circus, effectively ending the novel with the same point of view that it began.

Why might you use a tied ending? More common in literary fiction, a tied ending can help give you a sense of direction when writing your book — after all, you are ending the same way you began. But don’t think that this makes writing your ending easier. On the contrary, it is up to you to give greater depth to those repeated actions and events so that, by the end, they have a completely different feel.

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Also known as an epilogue , this type of ending describes what happens to the world of the story afterward in a way that hints at the characters' fates at some point in the future.

In Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief , Death himself narrates the story of a young girl living in Nazi Germany. In his four-part epilogue, Zusak gives the reader an insight into what happened to Liesel after the bombing, her adult life, and even her death. 

All I was able to do was turn to Liesel Meminger and tell her the only truth I truly know. I said to the book thief and I say it now to you.

*** A LAST NOTE FROM YOUR NARRATOR***

I am hunted by humans.

Instead of going into great detail, Zusak uses short chapters that feel more like sneak peeks into her life. Additionally, it serves the purpose of joining Liesel, the main character, with the narrator, Death, and allowing them to converse on more equal terms.

Why might you use an expanded ending? If you need to tie up loose ends but could not do it within the actual story, then this is the ending for you. However, it should not replace a traditional ending or be used to compensate for a weak ending. Instead, it should give further insight into the characters and give a resolution to the readers.

Now that you understand what kind of endings there are, let’s start thinking about how to create them for yourself! Read on to the next section of this guide. 

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How to End Your Story

how to end a story reddit

by Nina Munteanu

Have you ever seen the movie The Party with Peter Sellers? The first scene is priceless. Sellers plays an actor who is shot in a war scene; he subverts the script by refusing to die. His endless death struggles get so annoying that even the men on his side turn and shoot him.

The last thing you want to do is create an ending or dénouement that struggles in its conclusions. Ultimately, a story’s ending should conclude the story’s plot and theme satisfactorily to the reader. According to Ansen Dibell, author of Elements of Fiction Writing: Plot , successful endings come in two basic shapes: 1) circular and 2) linear. In a writing workshop I recently participated in, Patrick Rothfuss, author of The Name of the Wind , demonstrated two kinds of endings using his hands: for the first kind he clenched his fists in front of him; for the second kind, he opened his hands airily toward his audience.

The kind of ending you choose for your story will depend on the kind of story you are telling: one that rises to a climax or one that returns home.

Circular Endings

Beginning and ending connect in a circular story. In such a story, the end and the beginning are much more alike than they are to the middle. This is because the end reflects the promise of the beginning. Framed stories use the same technique, except the beginning and end “frame” are more like bookends, supporting the story from the outside and made of a visibly different structure (e.g., often portrayed in prologue and epilogue fashion and often in different POV, tense, style, etc.).

Circular endings, and their circular stories, are often the shape that quest-adventure stories take on. The main character sets out on a quest to find or learn or accomplish something, passes through trials, and finally succeeds in his mission and returns home with his prize to share (often insight or wisdom). Ultimately, the protagonist grows/changes/achieves then brings that wealth back home to alter his pre-existing everyday life. Full circle. Beginning and end mirror and contrast one another. Circular endings must do the job of showing the hero’s “homecoming”, how she is changed through the turning point in the middle of the story, and what she has brought to the ordinary world to change it.

Linear Endings

Linear stories and their endings run more like a marathon up a hill, with slides, diversions and hard climbs, until they reach the summit and climax (the highest point of conflict—and resolution). Once the result of the conflict is achieved, the story is at an end. Most straight adventure stories are of this type.

Reflective vs. Narrative Ending

Roy Peter Clark, author of Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, reflects that “great endings bring back the whole story.” He cites the “reflective ending” of The Great Gatsby, in which the narrator reflects back, pulling together the important narrative threads like a master weaver, to make meaningful conclusions. “A powerful alternative,” adds Clark, “is the ‘narrative ending’, a final scene that crowns the action.” Both types of ending work when masterfully handled. The former is essentially “telling” and the latter is essentially “showing”. You choose. Both work.

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What to know for WWE Elimination Chamber 2024: Date, US time, how to watch, match card

how to end a story reddit

After having five international premium live events in 2023, WWE will have its first of six this year with the 2024 Elimination Chamber this Saturday.

The last pay-per-view event before WrestleMania 40, the Elimination Chamber will be held in Perth, Australia. This is the third consecutive time the event will be held outside the U.S., and it is the first event held in Australia since the Super Show-Down in 2018.

The night will be headlined by the men's and women's Elimination Chamber matches, where six stars will compete for the chance to challenge for a championship match at WrestleMania, as well as two title matches, including one involving Australia-native Rhea Ripley.

Here's what to know for the 2024 Elimination Chamber:

When is Elimination Chamber 2024?

Elimination Chamber is Saturday, Feb. 24.

What time does Elimination Chamber 2024 start?

The 2024 Elimination Chamber begins at 6 p.m. Australian Western Standard Time, so it'll be a very early morning for viewers in the U.S.

Elimination Chamber will begin at 5 a.m. ET/2 a.m. PT.

Where is Elimination Chamber 2024?

The 2024 Elimination Chamber will be at Optus Stadium in Perth, Western Australia. 

How to watch, stream Elimination Chamber 2024

The event can be streamed on  Peacock , but you must have their premium or premium-plus subscription to watch. Internationally, it will be available on WWE Network.

Elimination Chamber 2024 match card

Matches not in order

  • Men's Elimination Chamber match
  • Women's Elimination Chamber match
  • WWE Women's World Championship match: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Nia Jax
  • Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championship match: Finn Bálor and Damian Priest (c) vs. Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate
  • Grayson Waller hosts "The Grayson Waller Effect" with WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins and Cody Rhodes
  • WWE Women’s Tag Team Title Kickoff Match: The Kabuki Warriors (Asuka and Kairi Sane) (c) vs. Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell

Who is in the men's Elimination Chamber match?

The six men competing to be the No. 1 contender for a title match against WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins at WrestleMania 40 are:

  • Drew McIntyre
  • Randy Orton
  • Bobby Lashley
  • Kevin Owens

Who is in the women's Elimination Chamber match?

The six women competing to be the No. 1 contender for a title match against the winner of the WWE Women's World Championship match at WrestleMania 40 are:

  • Becky Lynch
  • Bianca Belair
  • Tiffany Stratton
  • Raquel Rodriguez

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Jodie Foster in the 'True Detective Night Country' finale

‘True Detective: Night Country’ Team Explains Ambiguous Ending: “You Should Be Making Theories”

Showrunner Issa López and stars Jodie Foster, Kali Reis and Finn Bennett speak with The Hollywood Reporter about the HBO crime drama's chilling conclusion: "It's an ending that leaves you guessing."

By Josh Wigler

Josh Wigler

Contributor

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[This story contains major spoilers from the True Detective : Night Country finale.]

True Detective: Night Country winked and nodded to the HBO crime anthology’s original iteration all season long. But perhaps never more overtly than in the finale, which conjured up the franchise’s most indelible phrase: “Time is a flat circle.”

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Natalie portman on the "decline of film" amid the age of social media and influencers, 'true detective' renewed for season 5 with issa lópez at the helm.

By the end of the finale, it’s revealed the two cases are completely linked: The scientists killed Annie in an act straight out of Lord of the Flies , and Annie’s community — many of them women who worked at the research station — rose up and killed the scientists in kind. The women explain their actions in a story told to officers Danvers and Navarro ( Jodie Foster and Kali Reis , respectively), and rather than arrest them, the pair decide to leave the case be, satisfied that a certain kind of justice was done.

“It was an homage to many things,” showrunner, director and writer Issa López tells The Hollywood Reporter about her initial ideas for the ending. “Some of the best Sherlock Holmes stories are the ones where he walks away after he finds the killer, shrugs his shoulders and says, ‘Well, I guess we’ll never know what happened.’ I sadly believe we can’t always expect the establishment’s justice to come and impart justice. So many times, it’s us who have to figure out a way for justice to play. I felt that after so many stories where murder and missing Indigenous women are represented, it’s external agents who come and reveal what happened. I thought it would be so interesting to have the women themselves step in and tell the story differently, and give it their own ending.”

But the ending is also ambiguous in other ways, as certain elements are never concretely answered. For one, is there truly an ancient force lurking in Ennis, Alaska? Or were the supernatural components of the series nothing more than tricks of the mind? Why was Annie’s tongue found in the research station, a question openly asked and never answered by the end of the series? 

“You should be making theories,” says López, challenging the audience and suggesting there are clues littered through the season to such open-ended questions. “[Not revealing the tongue] was a fight, because so many people working with me were like, ‘No, really? You’re not going to give that to us?’ And you know, in life, you don’t always get all the answers. Some of them are for you to figure out. I’m not going to do all the homework on my own for you.”

Are the answers to the lingering questions supernaturally charged? Some feel it’s still ambiguous, while others, like Reis, are fully on board with the notion that something old is driving the action forward.

López adds, “You can read this entire series and just go with the real world explanations, that every event is ‘real,’ or you can read the story on a supernatural level, just like the [first season of] True Detective . Is there a real Yellow King, or has Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) just fried his brain on drugs?”

Speaking of season one, how did that “time is a flat circle” line wind up in the finale, anyway?

“I felt that if someone was going to drop that line, it had to be a scientist. Because that theory has to do with a lot of really advanced physics and the flow of time,” López explains. “I do believe that Clark [Owen McDonnell, who says the line] is crazy. But I also believe Annie’s always had these dreams about the spiral because she always inhabited that secret cave in a way, and was always going to find her fate. She’s always existed there, and she will always be there, and time is not linear in that way. It’s a flat circle.”

“Nobody’s ever really gone,” she continues. “I do believe in that part of the philosophy. That it’s the ethos of this show. Cohle voices it in the first episode of season one. It’s not just in here for the fans, it’s done because I do believe that events turn around and come back and come back, and we’re trapped in it.”

“In a heartbeat,” says Finn Bennett , whose character Pete Prior spends the finale disposing of his father’s corpse . “I do love the show’s model of moving onto new characters in a new setting, but I would love to work with all of those people again and I really loved playing Prior.”

“I loved playing Navarro,” says Reis. “She’s so complex, so dark, so layered. I absolutely adored her. But, would we do a Night Country 2 ? I don’t think so. If it ain’t broke, leave it where it is.”

For her part, Foster largely agrees with Reis about Night Country staying where it’s left in the end. But that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t want another way into the franchise: “I’d be happy to be the pizza delivery woman that comes in at any point in any season of True Detective , and especially if Issa is directing. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I felt that way about Silence of the Lambs , too. Sometimes you get a team that knows exactly how everything is supposed to be, and I felt that way on this one.”

True Detective: Night Country  is now streaming its full season on Max. Read THR ‘s coverage on the season here .

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Cause of death determined for Audrii Cunningham, missing 11-year-old Texas girl

Officials have determined the cause of death for the  missing 11-year-old girl  whose body was found in the Trinity River in Texas this week.

Audrii Cunningham died of “homicidal violence including blunt head trauma,” according to the Harris County medical examiner’s office. Her body was found Tuesday.

Don Steven McDougal, 42, who was already in custody on an unrelated matter, was charged with capital murder in connection with her death, Polk County booking records showed Wednesday. He is being held on no bond.

Sheriff Byron Lyons said information from the suspect, cellphone data and social media imagery sent in by citizens led them to find Cunningham's body off Highway 59 in the county.

A local water authority lowered the water level of the river to assist divers in their search, the sheriff said.

11-year-old Texas girl still missing after four days, man in custody is 'person of interest'

Cunningham had not been seen since she left her Polk County home on Feb. 15 at about 7 a.m. to catch a school bus, officials said.

She never got on that bus or made it to school that day, according to Polk County Sheriff’s deputies , and an Amber Alert was issued.

McDougal was called “one of the persons of interest” in the case when he was arrested Feb. 16 on suspicion of aggravated assault, in an unrelated incident, officials said.

McDougal lives in a trailer behind Cunningham's home and is considered a family friend who'd occasionally take the girl to the bus stop or to school, officials said.

A small children's backpack was found at the Lake Livingston Dam, not far from the Cunningham family home, authorities said. Trinity River feeds into the lake.

how to end a story reddit

David K. Li is a senior breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital.

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Prince William Calls for End to Gaza Fighting ‘as Soon as Possible’

In a measured public statement, the heir to the British throne said that “too many have been killed” in the war between Israel and Hamas.

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Prince William, wearing a jacket and tie.

By Stephen Castle

reporting from London

  • Feb. 20, 2024

Prince William, the heir to the British throne, called on Tuesday for an end to the fighting in Gaza as soon as possible in a rare, if measured, public statement on the bloody conflict between Israel and Hamas.

“I remain deeply concerned about the terrible human cost of the conflict in the Middle East since the Hamas terrorist attack” on Oct. 7, the prince said in comments issued by his office. “Too many have been killed.”

He added: “I, like so many others, want to see an end to the fighting as soon as possible. There is a desperate need for increased humanitarian support to Gaza. It’s critical that aid gets in and the hostages are released.”

By tradition, the British royal family keeps itself out of politics, and its members usually avoid intervening in contentious issues.

Prince William’s comments came ahead of a meeting in London on Tuesday with the Red Cross, where he was to be updated on humanitarian efforts to support people affected by the conflict. Later this month, he is expected to visit a synagogue to join a discussion with members of the Holocaust Educational Trust, which campaigns against hatred and antisemitism.

The prince’s statement added, “Sometimes it is only when faced with the sheer scale of human suffering that the importance of permanent peace is brought home,” and that “even in the darkest hour we must not succumb to the counsel of despair.”

It concluded: “I continue to cling to the hope that a brighter future can be found and I refuse to give up on that.”

Stephen Castle is a London correspondent of The Times, writing widely about Britain, its politics and the country’s relationship with Europe. More about Stephen Castle

Our Coverage of the Israel-Hamas War

News and Analysis

Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and the accompanying ground offensive have forced Palestinians into makeshift tents in the overcrowded territory around Rafah. Daily life is a struggle against hunger, cold and  a growing sanitation crisis .

Antony Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, said that the American government now considers new Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories to be “ inconsistent with international law ,” marking a reversal of a policy set under the Trump administration.

The main U.N. agency providing aid to Gaza’s besieged population has “reached a breaking point”  amid donors pulling funding, its leader has warned. The agency has lost $450 million in funds since allegations that some of its employees had ties to Hamas.

Stranded in Rafah: After months of telling residents in Gaza to move south for safety, Israel now says it plans to invade Rafah, the territory’s southernmost city. Two Gazans describe what it is like to live there right now .

A Father’s Heartache: Beginning in December, Mustafa Abutaha, a professor of English in Gaza who lost a son to the war, sent us dozens of voice and video messages , providing a window inside Nasser Medical Complex before it was raided by Israeli forces.

Building Political Pressure: Omer Neutra and Edan Alexander, young men from the New York area who were serving together in the Israeli military, were taken captive on Oct. 7 near Gaza. Their families now share one urgent goal : to free them.

An Arab Vision for Gaza: Mohammed Dahlan, a Palestinian exile and an adviser to the president of the United Arab Emirates, provided some insights into what Arab governments are privately planning  for the battered enclave after the war ends.

IMAGES

  1. How To End A Story : r/coolguides

    how to end a story reddit

  2. 100 Ways to End a Story (with examples)

    how to end a story reddit

  3. How to End a Story: Three Ways to Nail Your Book’s Ending

    how to end a story reddit

  4. Fernando H. Green Blog: How to End a Story: 3 Steps to Finding Your

    how to end a story reddit

  5. How to Write a Good Ending for a Story: 8 Tips for Success

    how to end a story reddit

  6. How to End a Story: 7 Tips for Fiction Writers

    how to end a story reddit

COMMENTS

  1. How should I end a story? : r/writing

    How should I end a story? Advice I'm still new to writing and a complete amateur, so I'm writing a short story for practice and noticed one big flaw in my attempts at making a story, all of my stories really.

  2. Stuck with how to end my story, any advice? : r/writing

    • 6 yr. ago I've been in this situation too. Watch There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men. Try and read the scripts if you could find them. Two stories following the villain. Neither movie ends on a high note, one kills a preacher and the other is a psycho on the loose in the streets of suburbia.

  3. how to end a short story? : r/writing

    how to end a short story? ID say I have an easy time thinking in ways to start a story and then start adding interesting scenarios that are fun to write, and a good time later The ending kind comes to my mind... But this just works for long stories for me. Now a short story?

  4. How do you bring your stories to an end? : r/writing

    How do you bring your stories to an end? : r/writing How do you bring your stories to an end? I've got the ideas, and the story, but how do I end the story? Like, is there a set of rules to closing a story like there is to opening one? And, more importantly, how can i bring a shorter story to an end?

  5. How To End Your Novel : r/writing

    Like say the story is about him haggling for a specific item at a market. Well the story starts with him already at the market stall, the story moves through the event of buying the item. The story ends when he's bought the item and leaves the market stall. The end. The whole series is like that.

  6. How to end a story? : r/writing

    How to end a story? I'm finishing my first short story and it's my first chapter book. I know how I want it to end but i cant seem to end it without feeling awkward. How do I leave nothingness after all of this? 3 4 comments Add a Comment davidducker • 2 yr. ago follow your outline. fix it in draft 2 UltraDinoWarrior • 2 yr. ago

  7. How to end a story : r/writing

    How to end a story I've been thinking of the way a lot of movies and books end seem to be kind of an easy way out. They end as if life doesn't go on after the story ends, or life continues flawlessly. My question is how do you end a story while acknowledging the fact that things continue imperfectly after it's over?

  8. How to End a Story: 7 Different Kinds of Endings

    Mystery endings The golden rule of mystery novels is "expect the unexpected." If the story you're writing follows a clear, logical path from start to finish and lays everything out for the reader, they may come away with a frustrating experience.

  9. How to End a Story

    The Bittersweet Ending. Our last ending is the bittersweet, when the hero gets what they want, but not what they need. As the name might suggest, it's just behind "bitter" for the lowest ending a story can have. Even when it looks like the hero has won, the hero themselves has to wonder if it was worth it.

  10. How to End a Story: 6 Approaches That Lead to Success

    Sometimes, the best way to end a story is by offering a clear resolution that neatly ties up all the loose ends and plot points. If you've ever felt a plotline has been forgotten about or ignored, you'll know how irritating it can be. Making sure the fate of everyone in your book is clearly explained can avoid that dilemma.

  11. Ending of Stories: How Planning an Ending Will Help You Write Faster

    It's convenient. And convenient conclusions end in bad reviews written by disappointed readers. Instead, the ending to your book should come about logically. While this doesn't mean it should be 100% predictable, it does mean that you wrap up your story in a way that is surprising but inevitable.

  12. How to End a Short Story

    Understanding the Purpose of Your Ending The purpose of an ending is not to make the story stop. Rather, it's to accomplish something specific for your characters and your readers. Before you can write a great ending, it's important to understand the purpose of your story's conclusion.

  13. How to End a Story: 3 Steps to Finding Your Perfect Ending

    If you're stuck, or don't know what to do, you can begin sketching and drafting rough ideas for each of these and see how they work together. Then, with something resembling a pirate's treasure map, start looking for that elusive ending. Here's how to do it. 1. Crush With Consequences.

  14. How to Write the Perfect Ending for Your Novel

    Writing How to Write the Perfect Ending for Your Novel Written by MasterClass Last updated: Nov 17, 2021 • 4 min read If the beginning of a novel draws the reader in and sets the stage for the drama about to unfold, the end must resolve that storyline and leave the reader satisfied with what happened to the characters.

  15. How to End a Story: 7 Tips for Fiction Writers

    How to end a story: 1. Find your ending in the beginning 2. Completion goes hand-in-hand with hope 3. Keep things fresh 4. Make sure it's really finished 5. Last impressions matter 6. Come full circle 7. Leave some things unsaid 1. Find your ending in the beginning

  16. 5 ways to end a chapter or scene, for authors and writers

    3. Reveal a crucial piece of information. Another way to make an impact with scene or chapter endings is to use a revelation —to introduce new information to your readers which will make them gasp. "You have four hosts after Edward Dance, including what's left of the days of the Butler and Donald Davis.

  17. 100 Ways to End a Story (with examples)

    Cliffhanger Normally, writers think of using a cliffhanger at the end of a chapter. But they absolutely can be used at the end of a story or book, for a few reasons: Pique the reader's interest for the next book in the series Uses the "in media res" technique to go out on a high point, rather than dribble to a conclusion

  18. How to End a Story

    Here are a few basic ones to get you started. 1. The "happily ever after" ending. The classic, feel-good ending. Disney is the master at this. Every character meets their goals (except for the villain, of course), the romantic couple gets together (they might even get married), and you finish the story feeling like you can accomplish anything.

  19. How to End A Story So It Resonates With Readers

    In this article Writer's Relief found on LitHub.com, author Allegra Hyde reviews some of the best exit strategies for your fiction. She also discusses some of the most popular story conclusions, including the endings of Middlemarch and One Hundred Years of Solitude. Click here to read more about how to write an unforgettable ending to your story.

  20. Writing The Short Story: How To Write A Gripping Ending To A Story

    Like the beginning of a story, there are many ways to end a piece of fiction. You can choose to end your story with a satisfying conclusion - with all the loose ends tied up. Most of us enjoy this type of ending. The neat and tidy ending is so popular because, unlike real life, a story can provide us with a guaranteed resolution of conflict.

  21. Book Endings: The 6 Ways That All Stories End

    Tied Ending. 6. Expanded Ending. Note: as this post deals with the endings of novels, there will be spoilers. 1. Resolved Ending. Wrap it up and put a bow on it. A resolved ending answers all the questions and ties up any loose plot threads.

  22. How to End Your Story

    Linear Endings Linear stories and their endings run more like a marathon up a hill, with slides, diversions and hard climbs, until they reach the summit and climax (the highest point of conflict—and resolution). Once the result of the conflict is achieved, the story is at an end. Most straight adventure stories are of this type.

  23. How is this story going to end? : r/ClassroomOfTheElite

    for where/how to read/buy the ln/manga or translation status, please check the subreddit's guide. make sure your post is in compliance with the rules as well to avoid having it removed.. please don't forget to appropriately flair your post and mark as spoiler or/and oc (for original contents like fanarts/fanfics) if necessary.check the wiki on how to add a link flair!

  24. WWE Elimination Chamber 2024: Date, US time, how to watch, match card

    Elimination Chamber 2024 match card. Matches not in order. Men's Elimination Chamber match; Women's Elimination Chamber match; WWE Women's World Championship match: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Nia Jax ...

  25. 'True Detective: Night Country' Finale's Ambiguous Ending Explained

    By the end of the finale, it's revealed the two cases are completely linked: The scientists killed Annie in an act straight out of Lord of the Flies, and Annie's community — many of them ...

  26. AT&T restores service after hours of outage

    AT&T said late on Thursday an outage that disrupted calls and text messages for thousands of U.S. users and prompted federal investigations was not caused by a cyberattack.

  27. Cause of death determined for Audrii Cunningham, missing 11-year-old

    Cunningham was last seen leaving her home on Feb. 15 to catch a school bus in Polk County. A man has been charged with murder, authorities said.

  28. Prince William Calls for End to Gaza Fighting 'as Soon as Possible'

    Prince William, the heir to the British throne, called on Tuesday for an end to the fighting in Gaza as soon as possible in a rare, if measured, public statement on the bloody conflict between ...

  29. Outage cause: What to know about AT&T cell phone service

    Tens of thousands of Americans had trouble making phone calls, sending texts, reaching emergency services or even accessing the internet on Thursday because of a nearly 12-hour AT&T network outage.