This week’s video talks about the little-discussed characteristic moment at the end of your story, which bookends the one at the beginning.
I know you’re totally all over the idea that the beginning of your book needs to feature your protagonist in a characteristic moment. The idea, of course, behind this is that we immediately want to show readers what this character is all about—and, even more than that, we want to hook them in with that character. We want them to see this character for who he is—in all his flawed glory—and fall in love with him, or, at the very least, be interested in seeing where he ends up.
But there is actually a second instance of the characteristic moment that is often overlooked—and this is in your ending. Now, obviously, you’re going to want your character to act in character throughout your book. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. What I’m talking about is deliberately creating another scene that showcases your character’s personality. You’re going to want to do this for several reasons:
1. If your character has evolved over the course of the story, which he probably has, then you’re going to want to use a closing characteristic moment to contrast the opening characteristic moment. You’re proving to readers how far the character has come.
2. This closing characteristic moment presents this charming snapshot of your character, which your readers can carry with them. It’s like when you reach the end of a great vacation and you get everybody together for a group shot, so you can take that photo with you as a reminder of a good time.
An excellent example of this technique is the closing scene in the BBC’s recent adaptation of Charles Dickens’s Little Dorrit. If you watch just the last three minutes of this series, you can see how practically every important character is given a final characteristic action or line of dialogue. It beautifully sums up each character’s role and personality and leaves viewers with a nice, little happy feeling.