How To Write A Story With A Great Open Ending


When
you write fiction, you may not always end with a scene or chapter
that neatly wraps up the conflicts and storylines. Instead, you may want to
leave your readers with an open ending. 

There
are three reasons for doing this: 

  1. You
    leave room to write a sequel, or to rewrite the same story while approaching it
    from the point of view of another character. 
  2. You
    simply want the reader to use their imagination to determine what comes next.
  3. You
    force the reader to focus on other things. Sure, they may complain about the
    lack of a clean and concise ending, but once they get over that, they might
    focus on your themes and characters. 

If
you accomplish nothing else by writing an open-ended story, you will at least
generate conversation. One thing to keep in mind is that not every open ending
is a good one. It takes real writing skill to pull this technique off with successful
results. 

Make
Sure Your Open Ending is by Design 

Ignoring
elements in your plot and failing to deal with conflicts, or simply failing to
write a proper ending to a story is not the same thing as writing an open
ending by design.  If you write yourself
into a corner and find that you cannot end your story cleanly, it is time to go
back to the drawing board. 

Consider
Choosing Just One Character And One Sub-plot To Leave Unresolved 

One
technique you can use is to select a single character that you develop into a compelling
player. You can give them an interesting sub-plot that you do not tie up in your
ending. Your readers will be eager to see what happens to that character next.
You can use this curiosity to write your next story, or simply to get your
readers to discuss and share your story with one another. 

Use
Your
Writing Imagination
to Conjure Up Several Viable Endings 

Just
because you don’t spoon feed the ending to your audience, doesn’t mean there
shouldn’t be one. If you are going to leave off the ending, or at least part of
it, you should have a solid idea of what it would be if there were one. Try
creating several ending scenarios, and then write your final chapter as an incomplete version of that. If you are
planning to write a sequel, you will know exactly where to begin. 

Read
a Few Books That End With a Cliffhanger 

A
cliffhanger is a classic way to end a book without tying up all the loose ends.
The story ends with one of the primary characters stuck in a precarious
position. This could be a physically vulnerable position (hence the term cliffhanger),
or it could be an emotionally vulnerable position, e.g., the main character
suddenly being told that another character is secretly in love with them. You
will learn to see the difference between an open-ended story that leaves
readers wanting more, and one that simply makes readers feel as if they have
been ripped off. 

Experiment
With Writing Truly Cold Endings
 

When
you write a cold ending, you abruptly end the story resolving nothing. One of
the best ways to do this is to end with a question that is never answered, an
action that is never completed, or a statement that is only partially
delivered.

 Guest post by Kerry Creaswood. Kerry is a blogger from Savannah, GA. She is fond of various forms of art and thinks that everything we can imagine is real. To find out more, follow her on Twitter.

[If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg.] 

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