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How to end and how not to


A story is a snapshot of real life, or a good story is. Your audience is not the kindergarten, so we do not require 'and they all lived happily ever after' which is a lazy ending anyway.

Instead, remember the old adage, Leave 'em wanting more!, and do not give in to the temptation to tidy up all the loose ends. Real life continues after we stop watching the participants. So leave the main protagonists in a recognisable place, and leave them alone to get on with their lives

Examples are hard to find because they either work or they don't, and that can be very personal to the reader:

  1. It seemed like no time at all later, under an oak tree in the shady corner of a field Jack and I'd walked to for what felt like ages, that we untangled ourselves. Kissing was good. Wet, but good. But it was holding and being held; that was the best part. And smelling his hair and his scent. And being with someone like me, someone like me who liked me. And talking about nothing while just touching. We'd get to sex. Of course we would. Just not yet, not today. His eyes were wet, just like mine. And his face was a smile. And we were fast becoming boyfriends, if we hadn't been all that afternoon already.
  2. I don't know if Zen and I have a future. I'm here on holiday, this is his home. What I do know is that we have a present. And, for Christmas 2016, he is my present, and I'm his.
  3. We went across the road, hand in hand, and rang the doorbell.

Number 1 tidies up, yes, but it leaves the doorway wide open for the future. There could be a second chapter to this complete short story.

Number 2 gives explicit doubts about what will happen in the future, while giving the reader a satisfactory resolution to the tale

Number 3 is full of promise and expectation for the future

What is really hard is to find a bad one. You'll know it when you try to write a conclusion to every single little plot thread you introduced. We don't care whether Aunt Jane cleaned the sheets and told his mother, nor do we care about Donald's fight with the kid down the road. So they fought, let them get over it!

This section was harder to write than I thought! Maybe I'm trying to tidy up the loose ends.

The Composer

The opening of a story is obviously very important. "It was a dark and stormy night..." And so on. What is much more important is how the story ends. A story needs conflict and resolution. For the sort of stories we are talking about here, there is too little conflict; resolution is very difficult; and often the stories fade into nothingness.

The stories we are talking about involve the attraction between teenagers of the same gender. Almost always, they are living at home with their parents. They fall deeply in lurve with another boy. It is very rare for parents to accept this, let alone condone this. So how is the ending to be resolved? In most stories, very badly!


Writing Masterclass

Authors, How Useful | Readers, How Interesting is this Masterclass?
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I'm an author - Very Useful
I'm an author - I learned some things
I'm an author - Interesting, but not useful for my work
I'm an author - I will contribute to this
As a reader - Wow, there's a lot to it
As a reader - I picked up a few things
As a reader - I am now thinking of writing
As a reader - a bit of a yawn, really
As a reader - I will contribute to this

Current Results

Not all of these segments are complete, and more will be added over time. Existing segments will be updated from time to time. You may want to contribute yourself. Please do. This is a work in progress