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Story Endings That Are Just Right

For this week’s Throwback Thursday, we’re looking at excerpts from past posts on Live Write Thrive that tie in with our exploration on scene structure.

From Endings That Spark Beginnings:

Just like beginnings, endings carry a special burden. The reader must be left with a feeling, like an aftertaste. So you need to stop and think. Just what feeling do you want the reader to have? Shock, sadness, warmth, confusion, curiosity? You want to keep in mind that the basic storytelling structure for a novel is action—reaction—action—reaction.

Too many scenes end with a character experiencing something and then . . . it ends. We need to see how the character reacts to what has just happened. You don’t have to do this every time, and in some genres where plot is king (suspense/thrillers), you may often end with the building exploding and you have no idea if your character just died. But as a general rule, you want to be with your character and see their reaction, feeling, or response—even if just told in one line—to what has just happened. Continue Reading…

Grand Finales: Tips for Writing Great Endings of Novels

Today’s post is reprinted by permission from editor Alan Rinzler. Alan worked for years at the top publishing houses with some of the most successful authors (as you’ll see below). I feel his terrific post on book endings ties in wonderfully with our look at scene structure. Be sure to check out Alan’s website to glean more from this very insightful and knowledgeable editor!

Writing a great ending for your book is just as important as a dynamite opening that rivets our attention and compels us to keep turning those pages.

A well-written book requires some kind of symphonic climax that resonates in our heads and hearts like the famous 40-second E-major chord at the end of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band. Our response may be filled with joy, hope, and happiness, or it may lead us to feel uncomfortable, to frown, scratch our heads, and worry about the unknown mysteries of life.

I’ve worked with many fiction and narrative nonfiction authors to achieve such closure for plot-driven thrillers, mysteries, romances, literary novels, memoirs, and young adult books, but also histories, biographies, travel books, and other stories. Continue Reading…

The Key to Creating a Wholly Believable Character

Last week I talked about the natural action-reaction cycle that’s such an important issue in fiction writing. So many manuscripts I critique are missing key reactions from characters. This oversight—and I believe that’s what usually causes this problem—is similar to scenes lacking appropriate description of setting or characters.

Writers see their scenes in their heads, and often while attempting to get all the many details down and locked in, they fail to pay attention to these nuances and trimmings. Yes, it’s often easier to come back later and fill those in—bring in sensory elements and the touches of description that help bring a scene to life.

And writers can certainly add in those needed reactions as well. So long as they can spot what’s missing.

While a lack of description details can be easy to spot and subsequently provide, if a writer doesn’t really get the natural flow of action-reaction, he won’t know it’s missing. Or know how to insert it so it’s believable. Continue Reading…

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