Is the Cliffhanger Ending Overrated?

Writers often hear 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 dying slowly and painfully of curiosity. But is this really good storytelling? When it comes to scenes and chapters, we […]

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

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 feeling of satisfaction. Whether they’re laughing, crying, or just thoughtful, you want them to be able to give their heads a […]

A Must-Know Tip for Writing Slam-Bang Finales

The ending of your novel is make or break territory for your readers. If you’ve convinced them to keep reading this far, you need to have something extra special in store for them come the end. If you disappoint readers in your story’s Climax, you risk losing those readers forever. So how can you dazzle […]

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 readers will find your story a satisfying experience. Last month, we talked about the 5 Elements of a Riveting Opening Line, and today we’re […]

Are All the Pieces in Place for Your Story’s Climax?

The trick to providing readers with a satisfying story Climax is making certain all the pieces are already there. Stories are like puzzles—giant 5,000-piece puzzles you spread all over your table and spend a year putting together. By the time you only have a handful of pieces left—by the time your story’s Climax is coming […]

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 […]

The 4-Part Process for Writing a Phenomenal Story Climax

The 4-Part Process for Writing a Phenomenal Story Climax

The best part of the Fourth of July (other than the fried chicken and potato salad, of course) is the fireworks at the end of the day. Everyone looks forward to sundown and the explosions of color that light up the darkness. Your novel’s Climax is like that. Readers will enjoy the preceding chapters (just […]

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Do You Have to Write Happy Endings?

In the 2003 film adaptation of Peter Pan, Wendy describes the stories she’s been telling the Lost Boys as “adventures, in which good triumphs over evil.” In response, Captain Hook sneers, “They all end in a kiss.” Like Wendy and the Lost Boys, millions of people escape into the world of fiction to find happily-ever-after […]

External and Internal Conflict: The Killer Combination

A general writing rule of thumb states that every page of your story should contain conflict. But sometimes it can be difficult to think up enough conflict to fill the nooks and crannies. After all, your hero can’t be battling it out with the villain on every single page. So what to do? The secret […]

How to Write an Epilogue That Works

How to Write an Epilogue That Works: 5 Tips

Want to learn how to write an epilogue that works? First, you need to understand why so many epilogues don’t work. How Not to Write an Epilogue Epilogues, like prologues, are, by their very definition, extraneous. As a result, they’re often unnecessary. Too many epilogues are self-indulgent happily-ever-afters by authors who want to make sure the reader […]