As another week comes to a close, we continue talking about endings.
We have covered the shock ending for both scenes/chapters and entire stories. And we covered harnessing emotions as well as why adding facts to our fiction makes it more believable.
So, today I want to end our talk on endings (for now) with a final lesson about closing things off the right way.
As you know, everything in our story comes to an end. All of those arcs you masterfully crafted end. Each character meets a resolution and has some type of satisfaction.
What you may not know, though, is that there truly isn’t an ending.
If you plot out your story in a timeline, you will find that the beginning doesn’t happen at the big bang, or the birth of the universe and time as we know it. Stuff happened long before your page 1.
The same is true on the other end. Your story doesn’t end because the end of time is reached. You could theoretically expand your story’s timeline from one edge of eternity to the other.
The portion that takes place between the covers of your book is only a small fraction of that.
Your hero goes on to live the rest of his life, that bad guy goes to jail and starts the appeals process. The little girl goes on to have trouble with her 11th grade English homework.
The point is, your ending isn’t really the end. And if you can recognize that, you have a whole world open up to you that makes your story telling better.
For the writing prompt today, we will explore this phenomenon.
Take the ending of your favorite book and write out what happens for the next two months.
For this prompt, you can use your own book. However, I am assuming that you haven’t finished your WiP and therefore don’t have a solid ending.
If I am wrong, then so be it.
What we want to do is ponder all of the possibilities of what happens beyond the final page of the book.
And how does this improve your writing and your own story?
Well, I am glad you asked.
Basically, it is a simple thing. If you contemplate what is about to happen, you set up for it.
Think about when you wrote the first chapter of your story, or the middle chapters. You didn’t have a plan to end it there, right? Every sentence pushed your story forward.
Each line, every character action made your story move through time and space and brought the reader along.
But that final chapter? Oh no. That one took some doing, didn’t it? Part of the let down of ending a story is that it just falls flat.
Have you ever read a story that was so good and then it just stopped? I know there have been a couple where I turned the page only to see an acknowledgement page. What?
Ending the story is fine. It has to end some time. But does it have to end so shitty? No.
By thinking about what comes next, you expand your own writing to hint to this. You foreshadow beyond the book, just like you did during the book.
This little trick is done to help the ending stay upright and not fall flat on its face. It is so simple, too. I don’t know why more people don’t do it.
Apply it to Your Work
So, take your ending, or your favorite book’s ending, and read it again. Then think about what happens next.
Cover about two months worth of time. If it is a fast paced story that only took place over a day or two, maybe only go out a couple weeks.
Whatever it turns out to be, think about the story line, think about the plot and the characters.
Then, write what you figured would happen. You aren’t rewriting the ending, so much as you are just extending the story.
When you are done, read over what you came up with, then think about the ending again.
Did you have enough to go on to extend the items out for two months? Was there more intrigue and suspense that could be played with?
When you do this for your own story, go back to your ending and have a go at a rewrite. See what happens when you have a clear picture of what comes after the book is done.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised.