Mar. 02 Writing Prompt

Endings! That is where we are this week. At least, you know, for now.

Yesterday we worked on adding surprise to the end of a chapter/scene instead of relying on giving the readers questions.

Shock and Awe is a good strategy, but not always. Whereas the questions angle will always be efficient, shocking an ending may not work for your story, genre or even the current chapter in question.

Be sure to use shocking endings as a discretionary tool and not the default.

But what about at the end of the book? I hear you ask. And yes, my hearing is that good… and yes, I heard that, too. Jerk.


Ending a book with shock can work if it is done correctly. There are also a few things to keep in mind when you are attempting this brazen writing method.

Before we get into those considerations, let’s look at the prompt for today.

March 02

Working with a denouement and resolution, end a book’s final chapter with a surprising shock ending.

Endings are tough. Even if you have the perfect ending in mind before you ever type your first word. Making it happen as you plan is near impossible.

Also, plan on your ending changing a few times before you call your project complete.

Now, I don’t mean the message will change or anything like that, but the actual ending must do a lot more than close out the book. It will go through changes to accomplish its job.

You need to ensure that all the questions are answered and readers are happy with the outcome. If you are writing a sequel or a series, you also need to do a bit of foreshadowing and set the next book up as well.

That doesn’t mean you can’t drop a little bomb on your reader and make them put the book down (after finishing) and wondering what in the hell just happened.

You have to do it right, though. If you shock the reader too much, they will expect more book and get mad when it ends.

On the other side of the coin, if you go for the shock and don’t do enough, your audience will see it as an odd occurrence. That confusion can result in the rest of the book becoming a distant memory.

Shocking Endings
Aim for that lightening in a bottle. Done right and you will be remembered forever. Probably.

If you are going to attempt this lightening in a bottle strategy, you have to do it just right. Like walking a tight rope, it needs to be executed perfectly.

The best way to do it is to practice, which is why I left the prompt a little open-ended for you.

You can use your own WiPs ending, pick an ending from your favorite story and rewrite it, or simply create a brand new one.

Things to Consider

When practicing this ending shock, there are things to keep in mind. Considering these aspects will help the ending be that right amount of shocking.

  • Start the set-up early. You want the shock to come, but it shouldn’t be as unexpected as the rest of your shocking moments.
  • Make it memorable, but make it light. You want more of a static shock, not a killing-power lightening strike.
  • Understand why you are adding it. If you are setting up a second book in a series, or a sequel, the shock will be different than if you are on a stand alone novel.
  • Know the type of shocking ending you are using. There is a big difference when something happens to the main character, or when it happens to the story line itself. You need to understand these differences and when to use which shock target.

Practice your shocking endings. Write two or three versions and figure out where you like the surprise to come the most.

When you have your favorite, post it in the comments section for all to see.

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