The Perfect Ending Writing Exercise

Maybe you knew the ending of your story before you even wrote your rough draft, or maybe you now find yourself unsure of your original choice for the ending.  Here are a couple of exercises that will help you find the best, and perhaps unexpected, ending to your story:

  1. Put the story aside and make a list of all the possible things that could happen in the ending (even if they violate your original vision of the story).  Come at it from every possible angle–the expected and the unexpected, the “soft” and the “hard,” the happy and the sad and whatever lies in between.  You should have a list of at least five or six possible endings.  Now, consider how each option shades the meaning of the story.  This is a time when you must “listen” to your story and see which way it wants to go.  Chances are, the key to your ending lies in the beginning and the middle of the story.  You may discover that the story you’ve written is quite different from the one you set out to write.  That’s fine–happens all the time.  The important thing is not to ruin your story by forcing a wrong ending simply because it adheres to your preconceived  notion of what “should” happen.
  2. Once you’ve discovered what should happen in your ending, there is still the question of technique.  Again, try several different variations, making the final sentence:
    1. A line of description
    2. A line of dialogue
    3. A character’s action
    4. Internal monologue–a character’s thought or feeling.

This creative exercise was taken from the course Focus on the Short Story

Successful short story writers know there is more to writing a short story than meets the eye. They require a sharply focused idea, finely rendered characters and tightly crafted prose to be effective. Work with a published short story author to write and revise two complete short stories and develop skills to write short stories independently.

You will learn:

  • How to develop and refine short story ideas
  • What makes a strong beginning for a short story
  • How to correct four common structural problems
  • How to avoid three problem endings
  • The difference between revising and polishing – and how to do both

Learn more about Focus on the Short Story!