The Write Path: Part Four—Creating Conclusions

This is the fourth and final story in my writing tips series. This week I’ll be ranting about how to write a conclusion to your story. The conclusion to a story is sometimes the hardest part to write for a multitude of reasons, but I think a lot of people just don’t know how to end their story. It can be really hard to find the perfect way to finish everything off. 

The thing that is most important in a conclusion has nothing to do with the conclusion at all. It’s actually everything that comes before the ending. It’s everything building up to it because if you don’t create a story that the audience cares about, why would they care about the ending? They aren’t going to care about the ending of your story if you didn’t make anything else interesting, so the biggest thing to remember when writing a story is to make it interesting. Otherwise, no one’s gonna care, so let’s talk about the climax, usually the thing that comes right before the conclusion. 

The climax needs to be exciting, period. Everything in the story has been leading to this moment (sort of, it’s technically leading to the conclusion, but to the audience, it doesn’t feel that way because they’re going to enjoy the climax the most), so you need to make it exciting. What’s happened in the story and what’s been the main goal? How are the characters going to achieve that goal? Who’s the antagonist and who will lose? Think about these things when writing your climax. 

You’re probably asking yourself how you should end the story. Well, there are multiple different routes you could take. I’ll be talking about a few of the roads you could take with this. First, I’ll be talking about how to do a cliffhanger. 

Lots of people hate cliffhangers because they like a proper resolution. Personally, I love cliffhangers because they leave me wanting more. A movie that has one of the best cliffhangers (in my humble opinion), is Inception, directed by Christopher Nolan (one of my favorite directors of all time). The ending is done really well; it leaves us wondering what the true ending of the story is. Whilst there are some great theories out there as to if it’s still a dream or not, we never get an explicit answer, and I don’t think there is a real answer. That’s part of what makes it so good. 

Another thing that makes it so good is that we’re emotionally attached to the character(s), so we want it to be real, but with everything that’s happened so far, we expect a real ending, so what I’m trying to say here is that to make a good cliffhanger, you need to divert from the audience’s expectations and don’t give them a satisfying resolution. Cut it off and don’t give them an answer. Leave them wanting more. 

Now, if you want to give the audience a real resolution, you need to bring the story full circle. What’s the main character’s need throughout the story and how can you fulfill that? How can you accomplish the goal that was set at the beginning of the story? I can’t speak for your story because I don’t know what it is, so all I can really say for this is, give them closure. It doesn’t matter whether the ending is sad, happy, boring or action packed. Give them closure if this is the route you’re taking. 

You need to use the audience’s emotional connection to the story to draw out more emotion: joy, sadness, anger, etc. You need to draw out emotion for the conclusion. They need to feel something. After all, this is the end. If they feel nothing, then you haven’t written a story that people are invested in. Now, that doesn’t go without saying that everyone needs to like your story. The fact of the matter is that not everyone will like it, and some people will hate it, but you need to do your best to make an interesting story. 

However, look at someone like Christopher Nolan who wrote and directed another film called Tenet. This movie flopped big time at the box office, but the goal wasn’t to make a big blockbuster film that broke records. The goal was to answer a question. The question was: Can a film succeed when there is no character development, or can it succeed with only an interesting plot and action? And let me tell you, he definitely got an answer to his question. The answer is no. A story needs character development and interesting characters. If you don’t believe me about the thing with Tenet, the main character didn’t even have a name. His name was “the protagonist.” Seriously, look it up. 

My point through all of this has been, make your story interesting so that when the time comes for the climax and conclusion, you have enough built up excitement to work with so you can create an epic conclusion. 

Thanks for reading this far, I really hope this has helped someone in their story writing process.

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