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Assembling your ideas to build a satisfying ending.
This is your final act! The part of the book which starts with the end of the middle, and ends with the final scene. You have to fill in the space between those two points with scenes.
By knowing what your final scene will be, you can make sure you set it up during the middle of your novel. Think about the end – the final act – like theatre. The final act has a gathering function. Characters are positioned spatially, temporally and emotionally for that end scene. By this we mean:
- Spatially: Your characters have to be at the same location.
- Temporally: At the right time.
- Emotionally: Your character’s ‘arc’ has to be resolved so that they are in the right frame of mind for the final scene.
In the end you need to go with the momentum as you write it, you can fix prose and characterisation later. Make sure you plan the end carefully but also remember as are writing this section to be more forgiving of yourself at this point in the book. You’ve written a LOT of words over these past couple of months!
Audio From Kim Wilkins – Gathering The End Together
Listen as Kim talks about your ending as the final act of your book.
Don’t forget to download the audio notes below too (available in PDF format) before you listen to this week’s lesson so you can take notes.
PDF (right click and ‘Save As’): Audio Notes – Lesson 18 – Gathering The End Together
Use this document to organise your notes while listening to the ‘Gathering The End Together’ audio.
THE FINAL SCENES
The final scene comprise of the ‘show down’ and resolutions scenes.
Be careful in your planning to not default to one of the below bad endings (you may find yourself with some very annoyed readers if you use them!):
– The ‘it was all a dream’
– The baddy escaping his ‘come-upance’
– Don’t have never-before-mentioned characters arriving to save the day.
– Get genres all confused.
– Many, many partings.
THE FINAL LINES
Think about how you can match the beginning and end in terms of language or things referred to.
Remember, last impressions count!
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In the Good Endings Forum, come up with a list of ways to ensure a good ending.
WHAT TO DO:
- Look at the ideas below and come up with a bad ending for each one.
- Note why the ending is bad; be as specific as you can be, e.g because it is cliché, because it’s too obscure, because it’s a big letdown.
- Now turn those reasons around into positive statements, starting with “A good ending is…” e.g “A good ending rewards the reader by tying up important loose threads.”
- Post your list of statements about good endings on the Good Endings Forum for group discussion.
- Lillian discovers her father was responsible for her beloved mother’s death. She travels overland from Bombay to London (it’s the 19th century) to meet with him and extract a violent revenge. On the way, she has many adventure and encounters with men that serve to make her more bitter and angry with her father. She finally arrives in London at her father’s house…
- Patrick is timid and unadventurous. He agrees to help organise an amateur variety- night production to raise funds for the small-town orphanage where he grew up. In the process, he meets Nancy, who hears him singing in the shower and realises he has an astonishing talent. At the last minute, the special guest small-time celebrity pulls out…
- Leo hasn’t been down the mines since the accident in ’83 that buggered his knee and left him terrified of the dark. Now his headstrong daughter has married a miner, even though he wanted her to get out of town and get a proper education. Then the unthinkable: an explosion down the very same mineshaft, and his son-in-law is trapped. Leo’s daughter presses her father to help in the rescue mission…
- Miranda is a welfare mum who comes up with a great idea for a home business. Every bank manager turns her down, none more harshly than Edward Peabody, who not only ridicules her, he then steals her idea and goes into competition against her. With determination, courage, hard work and sacrifice, Miranda takes Peabody on…
- Merrick discovers on her nineteenth birthday that she is actually the lost twin sister of the high priestess of Kelmor. Now rumours abound that the night priestess is losing her powers, throwing into doubt the future of the magical islands. Merrick travels from her home in the outer islands all the way to the High Keep, to discover her blood and her destiny…
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