5 Ways to Write a Killer Plot Twist

I love plot twists. Mistaken identities, sneaky plans, sleight of hand—it’s all grand. Nothing makes me happier than a story that pulls the rug out from under me and shows me that my perception of the story up to that point is nowhere near as cool as the reality. But, by the same token, nothing […]

The Biggest Problem With Trick Endings

This week’s video talks about the pitfalls of the always tempting trick endings. Video Transcript: Most readers love them some good trick endings. How long have people been talking about The Sting or The Sixth Sense? And what author among us wouldn’t like to replicate that kind of excitement and memorability? But there is a big problem with trick endings. […]

10 Stories With (Brilliant) Loose Ends

The ending of your story is going to be even more important than its beginning. If the beginning flops, readers will set the book aside and never think about it again. But if the ending fails, your book (and you) will live in infamy in the deep, dark dungeon of reader disdain. No pressure, right? Creating the perfect […]

Why Story Beginnings and Endings Must Be Linked

The ending of your story is a loooong way away from the beginning. Three hundred pages or 100,000 words is an extraordinary journey. Contemplating the ending from the vantage point of the beginning is like looking up at the top of Mt. Everest and imagining yourself, in all your windblown, frostbitten glory, standing there with your hands on your […]

Is the Cliffhanger Ending Overrated?

This week’s video explores the pros and cons of using a cliffhanger ending within a series. Video Transcript: Writers are told all the time they need to end their scenes, chapters, and even books—if they’re part of a series—with cliffhangers that will force readers to choose between either reading on to find out what happens, or, alternatively, dying slowly […]

Do You Know the Two Ingredients in a Perfect Book Ending?

This week’s video talks about how authors must magically combine inevitability and unexpectedness to give readers a perfect book ending. Video Transcript: Whether your story is a tragedy, a comedy, a “happily ever after” jaunt, or any variety and combination thereof, the one thing you want it to be is resonant. You want readers to close the book with […]

A Must-Know Tip for Writing Slam-Bang Finales

This week’s video talks about a simple technique you can use to encourage readers to keep turning your final pages deep into the wee hours of the morning. Video Transcript: The ends of our novels are make or break territory for our readers. If we’ve convinced them to keep reading this far, we had better […]

5 Elements of a Resonant Closing Line

As important as the opening line may be to convincing someone to read your book, the closing line is the one that determines how well your story works—and whether or not your reader will find your story a satisfying experience. Last month, we talked about the 5 Elements of a Riveting First Line, and today […]

Are All the Pieces in Place for Your Climax?

This week’s video shows how Suzanne Collins did a masterful job of providing her readers a resonant, cohesive climax in The Hunger Games. Video Transcript: Stories are like puzzles—you know, the giant, 5,000-piece ones you spread all over your table and spend a year putting together? That’s your story. By the time you only have […]

Deus Ex Machina: Latin for “Don’t Do This in Your Story”

By the time you reach the end of your book, you’re sometimes out of steam, sometimes out of ideas, sometimes sick of your story, and sometimes just plain wrong about how to end it. As a result, you might find yourself walking through yellow caution tape into the pothole of deus ex machina before you […]