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Writing A Novel: Conclusions

Hey everyone!  Long time no see!  As promised in the last post, "Body Building", I have compiled a quick guide to writing a conclusion for your story; this is also the finale of the "Writing A Novel" blog-series.  Stay tuned for more posts, however!  Okay - let's get down to business. 

So you have your story written all out, and you've just hit the tipping point called the "climax" of a story plot line.  How do you write out the "falling action" of your story without, essentially, rushing or ending the story quickly or unresolved?

First of all, this is the point where it wouldn't hurt to go through the majority of your story or your plot information and make sure that you plan to tie up all remaining loose ends - that is, unless you're planning on creating a series.  Therefore, I'm going to make separate sections for standalone books (and novel finales) and for novels in series. 

Standalone / Last Book
For the end of your story, you need to make sure that you tie everything up in a box.  But notice - I didn't say you couldn't make your box 'neat' or 'tidy'.  It depends on your story, and it should be fairly clear to you how it should end by the way you wrote your story and genre.  All stories shouldn't, or at the very least don't have to, have happy endings.  Quite frankly, it would have been out of place if the story wasn't a very happy story, such as a horror/crime/etc. novel.  Therefore, ensure that you have all your loose ends tied up and make sure that you don't forget any of the points you planned to make originally, back at the beginning of this story or series.  However, you have to tie in these final points eloquently and not so obviously that it seems "hokey" or "sappy" to the reader.  Imagine what kind of conclusions you enjoy in the stories you read, and consider these points as well if you need inspiration.  However, getting to the conclusion, you shouldn't rush it.  Just because the main action is over doesn't mean that the life of the story - or the lives of the characters - is over.  Written well, this story will reside in the minds of every reader for a long time, playing and replaying that conclusion that resonated, that hurt, that made them weep.  If it reads right, and doesn't leave out any crucial information, then it should be okay. 

Books In A Series
For books that are part of a series - or perhaps for short stories and other works that are meant to be ambiguous - the conclusions don't have to be quite as articulate.  However, they still have to be good.  You want your reader to continue reading your stories or enjoy the finish, don't you? 
For such endings, the complete falling action is a little trickier, especially for an action series but for any genre.  You want to resolve any outstanding issues in this book that will not remain (or at least, your readers don't think those issues will come back around...) but you shouldn't necessarily resolve everything, especially if the same characters or main problem will be coming back later in the next book or the rest of the series.  Therefore, you should start and end your book with a hook.  Make the reader want to read the beginning of the book, and wait anxiously for the next book in the series once they hit the cliffhanger. 

Mostly, conclusions are extremely dependent on the story that you've written.  Once you get a well-written one - and it may take a few or even several rewrites or alternate scenes - you'll know when you get a conclusion that works well.  After you have your story pieced together, it's a good idea to read your work through at least once as a finished manuscript.  It doesn't hurt to re-read multiple times, however, and leave your story for at least a week between readings so that you can read with a fresh mind and, perhaps, notice some things you never noticed before: pieces that need reworked, a better way to phrase something, etc. 

I hope that this blog series has at least shed a small amount of light or assisted you in your writing processes!  If you have any questions or ideas for future posts, please feel free to drop a few lines and let me know. 

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