Although the headline reads “story,” the following applies for books, articles, business writing–nearly anything.
Much is said of writing the perfect, engaging lead to draw your readers in by grabbing their attention. I couldn’t agree more. If you can’t get them to read past the first paragraph, you won’t have to worry much about how your story ends.
Unfortunately, many writers, who have crafted an amazing lead and kept their readers engaged throughout their writing, either leave their readers hanging at the end, or worse, drop kick them out of their story. How many times have you invested time in a book or article to be disappointed with the ending? For me that answer is “too many.”
Here are some different methods for writing great endings that will leave your reader satisfied:
1. End your story on an upbeat note. Set your reader free feeling good, uplifted, or at least have him learn something from his investment of time.
2. Let your reader fill in his own blanks. End your story with a question, maybe even a hypothetical question. Or leave some mystery surrounding your ending. This is especially effective when writing sequels or chapter endings. Leave you reader thinking, “Hmm…I wonder…”
3. Come full circle with your lead. Use a certain unique phrase or even just the main theme from your lead to bring closure to your story.
4. Close with a relevant quote. You can even tie this into point number 3 if you opened with a quote by the same person.
5. Provide a brief summary. This works best, of course, if you’re writing nonfiction. Recap the main points of what you just covered, then present them in a concise manner to close your article.
6. Surprise ending. Write a shocking statement at the end of your story that will completely catch your reader off-guard. It could be a point you hadn’t brought up yet that enables you to save the best point for last, or it might just be a humorous statement to give the reader something to remember.
7. Anecdotal ending. Either present a new anecdote to the end of your story that helps bring out your main theme, or finish an anecdote you began earlier. It can be very effective to write an anecdote early on, then not finish it until the end of your story.
8. Know when to end. When is that? When you’re done. After your theme has been fully supported by appropriate facts and subpoints, and you have finished telling all you need to, wrap it up and get out!