Chapter 9: Writing the Ending, Part 2

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* This Is Overdue
* Chapter 9: Writing the Ending, Part 2
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quote of the Day

“Excited for the plotting and outlining features? Can’t wait for collaboration with your co-authors, beta readers, and the rest of your author team?” from an email update from Atticus describing their new platform. I could only shiver. Well, and unsubscribe. Atticus will be of no use to me. Your results might differ.

This Is Overdue

BREATHE: Living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, written by my dear friend Kenneth Flowers, is a compilation of personal diaries he wrote over a period of several years. It contains invaluable insights into living with COPD.

If you suffer the effects of COPD or if you care for someone who does, get your copy of BREATHE now. It’s free and offered in any ebook format.

Many have found this book invaluable. If you would like a copy, email me at

Chapter 9: Writing the Ending, Part 2

Watch Your Pacing

In the big climax, sentences and paragraphs generally are shorter and more terse. The action (and remember, in written work, dialogue also is action) typically happens very quickly. Narrative is sparse and condensed, and even any dialogue is short and tense. Everything is frantic.

When you jump to the ending (the resolution), slow things down. Use neater sentences, calmer syntax and words. In other words, write a much more relaxed scene. That’s how you ease the reader out of the story after the high-tension climax.

Note: I am not advocating “thinking” your way through the resolution, focusing on sentences and words.

I’m advocating learning those techniques here, from this book, with your conscious mind. When you do, the knowledge and awareness of the techniques will sink into your creative subconscious.

Then, as always, trust your creative subconscious and your characters as you actually write the story.

If you want to see this technique in action, I recommend watching the end of the films I used as examples above. Or read any of my novels or any novels from any major bestsellers.

(Except that one author I have mentioned occasionally in posts in my Daily Journal. His writing never drew me into the story, so I never got to the ending, so I cannot recommend him or any aspect of his books.)

Finally, be sure you bring the story full circle. In a stand-alone story, be sure you don’t have any unwrapped threads still out there. Make sure you resolve all open matters that were not resolved earlier in the story.

In a series, it’s often a good idea in the ending to hint at any unresolved issues and hint that they will be resolved in the next story.

Of course, there should never be major unresolved issues in the current story. They shouldn’t become major until the next story, in which they will be resolved.

Watch for the Ending

Most often, even in a novel, you can feel the ending coming when you’re within a few thousand words.

When that happens, just keep writing. Keep letting the story happen.

But if the writing begins to slow or grind to a halt, there’s a chance you’ve written past the ending. And it can be the end of a chapter or of the whole novel.

I first heard of this from Dean Wesley Smith, but it’s happened to me a couple of times too.

In my first novel, I sensed the ending was coming up. I just kept writing the next sentence, writing the next sentence, and suddenly the writing slowed to a slog. Something didn’t feel right. I knew there wasn’t another scene upcoming..

So when I realized what was going on, I backtracked. Sure enough, I had written past the ending of the novel by about 200 words.

That was the first book in what would become a 12-book series, but the “extra” I wrote beyond the ending of the first book didn’t make it into the second one either. The slowing was just the character trying to tell me the story was over. Without realizing it, I’d even written the resolution.

I’ve also written beyond a chapter ending. Again, the writing slowed. And again I backtracked, found the ending, and started a new chapter.

If that happens to you, it’s all right. Just backtrack and look for the great line or situation that ends the chapter or story satisfactorily. It will be there. Then start a new chapter or allow the characters to move-through or talk-through (or both) the resolution.

What Makes a Good Ending?

It seems appropriate to end a chapter titled “Writing the Ending” with this:

Good endings, like good stories, are always about the POV character responding to and moving through one or more interrelated events. They leave the reader feeling good about the protagonist. Or at least satisfied.

A good ending might contain an air of nostalgia. For an excellent example, see the end of the Lonesome Dove trilogy of films with the images of fallen comrades filing by as Captain Call said, bitterly and with sarcasm, “Yeah. One hell of a vision.”

As that one did, the ending often contains or reveals an emotional attachment to another character or characters.

The emotional attachment might be one-sided. You’ll see this in almost any western in which the hero rides off into the sunset alone while the wistful female lead watches him go.

Of course, emotional attachments are also hinted at in the other two films I mentioned at the top of this chapter.

The emotional attachment can also be mutual, whether a personal romantic attachment between characters or a professional bond among characters who have shared a unique experience in a team setting (especially some high-tension, high-emotion experience).

One example another writer shared with me was a time jump to funeral.

The writer didn’t show the actual funeral (remember, this is the ending, the validation) but he used the funeral to set the mood for the scene.

Then he let the readers see the characters walking away from the funeral, talking about what’s coming next for each of them (a great lead-in to the next book in a series), getting on with life, and so on.

And of course there are a host of others. Study endings in real life and in the books of other writers whose works you admire, and then adapt those in your books.

Next up, Appendix A: Examples of Hooks. Talk with you again then.

Of Interest

Fiction Branding… Part 2 Read This!

Marketing Advice for Indie Authors with Kiki Chatfield

The Numbers

The Journal……………………………… 1100

Writing of

Day 1…… XXXX words. To date…… XXXXX

Fiction for February……………………. 40199
Fiction for 2024…………………………. 157803
Fiction since October 1……………… 460858
Nonfiction for February……………… 27940
Nonfiction for 2024…………………… 59900
2024 consumable words…………… 217703

2024 Novels to Date……………………… 4
2024 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2024 Short Stories to Date……………… 1
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………… 86
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)…………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)…… 239
Short story collections…………………… 31

Disclaimer: I am a prolific professional fiction writer. On this blog I teach Writing Into the Dark and adherence to Heinlein’s Rules. Unreasoning fear and the myths of writing will slow your progress as a writer or stop you cold. I will never teach the myths on this blog.

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