You’d think deciding how to end your latest work-in-progress would be easy. Tie all those loose ends together, pen one final scene, and you’re done! Right?
Except it’s not that simple. Because sometimes, being in complete control of your writing means you often find yourself drowning in possibilities. Which is not as glorious as it might seem.
In the end, they live happily ever after.
No, wait. They don’t. That’s more realistic and relatable. Right?
Maybe the story doesn’t actually end there. Yeah. It keeps going. Happily ever after … after.
But what if the ending is supposed to be dark and leave the reader feeling like they’ve had their hearts ripped out and stomped on? Maybe that’s …
No. Not that. That’s too much.
There is no such thing as a perfect ending.
It’s not possible to write a story that pleases everyone. That won’t spark some sort of criticism. That will leave every reader satisfied when they finish the last page.
When you write, you have to write for the masses. And sometimes, it’s much easier to handle this overwhelming fact by just ending the book the way you want to end it because you’re the author and you make the rules.
I often know the endings to my books before I know how they begin. The fun part, to me, is figuring out how the reader gets there.
Worry less about making everything “just right.” Remember that this whole writing thing is supposed to be, you know … fun. You’re probably overthinking this way too much and you don’t even realize it.
I see this happen with way too many writers. They get so caught up in having everything perfectly aligned before they start writing … and then they never actually start writing. Because what’s in their head couldn’t possibly come out as perfect on paper.
It’s not supposed to. That’s why. It’s called. A draft.
For now, end the story the way you feel it should end. If you ever change your mind, you can go back and change the ending, too. In drafts, nothing is set. Nothing is final.
For now, worry about finishing. Writing that ending. You never know — it might turn out to be the exact way it was supposed to end all along.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.
2 thoughts on “This Is What the Ending to a ‘Perfect’ Story Looks Like”
My 1st ending, I basically did a mic-drop when I finished a story arch.
It took 3 complete ending re-writes, but I finally found an ending that had a tone that worked for the story.
I love this. This is why a first draft is always a “first” draft. There will always be many, each one (hopefully) better than the last in at least some ways.