We’ve all got to that point in our writing where you want a character to be injured, and you want it to be as serious as possible, but at the same time you still want the character to live (that is, unless you are George R.R. Martin), and you still want them to be…
Hey Max, I am having difficulty with the end of my story. There are multiple characters in situations that need to be resolved, and while I have a good idea of what those resolutions will be, I am not sure just how to start. I don’t want to have a list of “and then X did this and Y did that”. Do I follow each character separately? Try to interweave them? How do I begin the end, knowing that it will likely take some time to get to a satisfying conclusion for all my characters? Thanks so much!
Hello Pat! Thank you for the question :D
Now, you (and anyone else reading) will find that I am going to be referencing this post (Let’s Talk About: Writing The Climax) so you may want to read it, it is one of my best replies and it works as the foundations to this answer. Also, I don’t mean to sound like a broken record— but thank you for sending this question in particular! Nobody ever asks about writing the end/climax so I really cherish questions like this~ ♥︎
So, with that out of the way, let’s tackle this bad-boy, okay?
As I mentioned in this post, to make a successful climax you need to have something at stake, and a payoff that echoes the reader’s emotional attachment. But what about the ending, though? Well, I think that the ending of your book should give the reader two things:
(More) Payoff and Closure.
Let’s tackle ‘em one by one c;
► (More) Payoff
Payoff is so, so, so important. Now that there is nothing else at stake (by which I mean that the main obstacle/threat has been taken care of), it is your job as the writer to make sure that there is a satisfying payoff to each and every of the plot-lines in the story✝. Like I mentioned in the other post, if you demanded a certain emotional attachment from your readers, you need to echo that in the payoff. You don’t have to give every side character and side plot their own epilogue (though, that will depend on your story). I will go into more detail in the next segment as to how to go about this, but for now know that you don’t ***have*** to put every side story in the spotlight, though you should give them a payoff in one way or another. It can be as little as a few lines showing that they have overcome their life-long fear, or them taking a moment of silence to consider the ones they lost during the final battle.
✝ Of course, the one exception is when you may want to leave a certain element of the story open for interpretation or leave it open because you plan to expand on it in another book or a sequel. Though, if this is your plan you may want to consider giving a reader a clue so they are not left confused. The last thing you want is to get an email from someone asking you: “Hey what happened to that side-character? They just disappeared at the end! They were my favorite :(“
Consider this the ribbon that ties the present. So, following that analogy, make sure to tie all of the loose ends in your story (or at least the ones you will not continue exploring in the next book). Now, some of you may say that this sounds too much like the previous advice— and that is because there is another clause to this bit.
Be very (very) careful of introducing any new threats or plot elements at the very end of your book.
We have all seen movies and read books that had a satisfying ending, until the last minute when they decided to set-up the story for a sequel. Suddenly all of the closure and payoff has been disarmed, and you feel as though you didn’t gain anything from the experience.
I am looking at you Asura’s Wrath. True ending? More like Buy-The-Next-Game-Ending. I seriously enjoyed Asura’s Wrath UNTIL those very last 2 minutes that left a really bitter taste in my mouth :/
Again, I am not talking about setting up a sequel. Long series do often end in a cliff-hanger, and that’s okay, the difference is that your story needs a certain degree of closure (to wrap things up, if you may c;). Without it the readers will be left unsatisfied. Just remember how you felt after watching the movie adaptation of Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince for the first time.
Or if you want a more infamous ending, consider how the original Mortal Kombat movie ended :p
Yeah we beat the badguy! Wait, no, there is another badder guy? Welp I guess the movie is over now. Okay.
► Putting The Pieces Together
Now that we have the theory down. How do we go about putting it together? Well, I know of a couple of ways c;
- It’s Over. One way to end a story is to show the conclusion of the main arc, and only lightly touch the consequences of the story’s outcome. I personally don’t like these sort of stories, because I generally find that the payoff is basically non-existent and pretty much everything is left open to interpretation. Sometimes it works, Inception, and sometimes it does not work, The Last of Us.
- Vignettes. You could take a moment to show how each of the main characters are affected by the end. It doesn’t have to be long, just meaningful enough to give the reader closure. This is also a good way to go about tackling side-stories. The trick for these is to focus on the change, as opposed to their actions. Show the reader how this character is now that they have completed their goal. Don’t tell us that the boy and the other boy finally got together— show us the two of them being in love.
- Jump Forward (Or Moving Forward). Another way to show the reader how each character has changed is to jump forward in time. It DOES NOT have to be entire years or decades— it can be as little as a few hours after the final battle. You will find that once people have certainty (AKA the big dragon is dead) they quickly start sorting out their life. This is the type of ending scene that shows characters looking forward to the future. It does not tell the reader what will happen, but it gives closure by showing that they are on the right path.
- The Reunion. This is pretty much the same as the previous, except that several years are skipped forward and it doesn’t leave things open, since we get to see the consequences of a character’s actions. We see how their dreams have changed. I know that this gets a lot of flak for being a cliche, but I think it is a very effective way to show growth c;
But, which one should you use? Well, that is something that only you can answer for yourself. Really, these are the ones I am familiar with— it is entirely likely that you could create yourown way to tackle the end. As I mentioned before, all you need to please your reader is to give them (More) Payoff and Closure. If you can give your readers that, then it does not matter how you do it.
If anything, this is the best part of writing as a medium— you can, and you should, play around and find what works for you & the story you’re working on!
I hope this helps! If you, or any other writerly friends, have any more questions I would love to hear them~ ♥︎
Thank you for the question, Pat! And doubly-thank you for pledging to my Patreon page! Thank you for directly supporting me, my books, and the awesome posts that you see on this blog everyday~ ♥︎
Interested in becoming a Patron? Head over to my Patreon Page where you will find information on the sweet perks that can be yours from as little as $1 dollar a month, least of which is my gratitude! ♥︎
Anonymous said: I love your tutorials! Thank you so much for creating them :) I was wondering if it would be ok to ask you about sketching advice? Often I've found that my sketches are rigid or use too many strokes and I'm not sure how to fix them. I admire your sketches for being simple and flowing and I would love if you could share some advice on how to achieve that sort of feel. Thank you so much and have a good day!!
!! Thanks a bunch, i’m flattered anyone would come to me for advice >_<. I was going to just link to some resources i remembered from back in the day but apparently searching for “furry lines” these days just yields tutorials on drawing furries ah aha ha >_> So lemme just try to do a quick write up with examples!
"Furry lines" as I call them are a VERY common technique beginner-intermediate artists use. It’s something every artist will naturally break through on their own with more and more practice sketching and drawing, but I think you can expedite the process by identifying why you do it and purposefully working away from it!
Here i’m using gardevoir as a “mental image” of what you want. You want those pretty flowing lines of the figure in your minds eye, but you want to get it just right. You lay down one stroke, and see it’s already wrong, so you go ahead and lay down another to correct it. It’s kinda right, but also kinda wrong, so you try again. Over and over till the end. Over all it looks kinda right.. but the brokeness of the lines destroy the fluidity and well, unintentional “furry” look haha.
The things you will want to remember is that, you will never get it right in one stroke, especially not in a sketch (which by definition ins’t supposed to be perfect!). You will probably never match exactly whats in your minds eye so there’s no point in trying to get it so precise with so many strokes. Instead focus on LONGER strokes that can still be wrong
And when you realize you can’t really be “perfect” you have less urgency to do those short furry lines to get it JUST RIGHT. You become more comfortable getting it all wrong, and going over it again in longer strokes. The end result with a lot of retraining is you still don’t get things perfect, but they are they actually wrong? or just not the same as what you wanted in your mind?
You still need to do lots of personal practice, just practice making long strokes with your ELBOWS and SHOULDERS NOT your fingers! Lots of pages of just lines, random doodles and stuff to understand the feeling of fluidity. Doesn’t have to be something in specific, just teaching your body what feels right and what feels wrong. But coupled with understanding WHY the furry lines are wrong and WHY you want to do it i think will help you move faster.
I hope this helps you, Anon! Good luck master the non furry lines XD
1. People overthink queries. Okay, so they are the only thing that an agent or editor might ever see of your work. So they have to embody everything about your personality and your books personality in a single page. So you will get absolutely nowhere if your queries suck, no matter if you’ve written the Great American Novel. Still, people overthink them. And this is why. Because
2. Agents are people too. More importantly, they are not just any people, they are readers. So guess what — the thing that makes you pick up a book is what makes an agent pick up a book. So therefore
3. Really, your query letter should read like the back of a book. Or the inside jacket flap or whatever. The bit that has the tantalizing description of the plot. A really effectively written jacket copy will tell you the tone of novel, the general premise, and probably a bit about the main players, and all in two paragraphs or less. What does this sound like – oh SNAP a query. But this is all good news for the aspiring query writer, because it means that there are lots of places to
4. Read good query letters. Where do you find these things, you ask? (cry, beg, plead) Which blogs? Which websites! which books! Well, now that you know that queries are really just awesome jacket copy, so the place to look is where there is good jacket copy. In case you do not know where to find novels, they are at these places called bookstores. Also, your shelves. Also, libraries. Also, Amazon. While you are there you will
5. Look at how succinctly successful book blurbs get across the main relevant points of the book. Each sentence does double duty, containing in its potent words setting and plot, or plot and character, or character and mood – just like in your novel. Oh, how hard your prose works for you! Even harder in this little blurb. A little game I like to play is called “sum up my novel in one sentence.” The idea is to pack in mood, hook, and characters into one sentence. (SHIVER’s was: ”a bittersweet love story about a girl who has always loved the wolves behind her house and a boy who must become a wolf each winter.”) If you can get it down to one sentence, a query is easy. Especially if you
6. Only include the relevant stuff. Relevant, I realize, is so subjective, but let’s pretend we have two seconds in a grocery store line to a) sum up our book and b) sum up our qualifications to write said book. So side characters go bye-bye. Hook is king. Then voice. Then the finer details of the plot. If you’re writing something more character-driven, voice is most important. Then hook. Get in, get out. Nobody gets hurt. And then, once you’re done with the book (please remember to include word count, title, and genre), include
7. Only relevant stuff about you. Believe it or not, most everything about you is irrelevant. Oh psh, I know you’re a speshul snowflake. So am I. But the point is, the reader is not going to care/ know about most everything about you, and so the agent/ editor doesn’t care. If it’s something the reader might know about, then it’s useful. So if you are, for instance, Orlando Bloom writing your first YA, you can mention your acting career. If you are, as I was, a big art blogger, you can mention your blog statistics (but they really need to be impressive to be worth mentioning). If you have won some writing award that more than twenty people care about, you can include that. If you have short stories published in a pro market, go for it. There are lots of things that you don’t include, however, because
8. No one cares if you’re a rocket scientist, unless your book is about rocket science. If you save baby kittens in your spare time, jump burning buildings in a single bound, invented the concept of Mozart, made the first jar of mayo in the world — it doesn’t matter. Neither does the number of kids you have, where you live, what you do for a living, how long it took you to write this book, etc. Relevant. Err on the safe side. Because really
9. The only thing that matters is the book. If they don’t care about your hook and voice, nothing about you will change their mind, even if you are the world’s biggest pinball champion. Just: Sell. the. Book. Also
10. Follow the rules. Target the editors and agents that read your genre (www.agentquery.com will help with this). Keep it to one page. Don’t use funky fonts, colors, animated smileys, pictures of kittens waving at the agent. Remember, it’s about the book. The only reason why rules are in there are to keep from distracting the important part: your hook. Your voice. Everything else is just underwire in the literary bra of your query. Make it invisible and don’t let it poke people. Okay?
Some hand references.
Redid a post by fucktonofanatomyreferencesreborn with sources because they never source anything and I don’t want to reblog that post because I don’t want to support blogs who don’t give credit to people
(No, stating that the art is ~not yours~ and ~came from elsewhere~ IS NOT PROPER CREDIT. Many of these have usernames and such on them but not every single one and you still ought to link back to the specific piece)
I couldn’t source the last one so I didn’t include it.
super quick nose painting tutorial + a million examples, because i can’t get enough of these darn noses. i wanna stroke them forever.
I get a lot of questions from writers who think their story is too close to its inspiration or too similar to another story. I can’t give you direct answers because it’s your story. I can’t write it for you. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t help you find a way to make it…