F is for Fin

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: , ,

Endings! Yes, those awfully awesome cliffhangers or happily ever afters (or even a happily for now).

The final scene is important and should wrap up all the plot threads you have going. Even in a series, each book should have some type of ending to it that leaves the reader satisfied. Of course a series can have a few side plots still open to leap into the next book, but I stress that each book should have it's own beginning, middle, and END to it. (I learned this the hard way people! Don't make the same mistake I did!)

And endings is more than the final scene of your book. I mean chapter endings too. Each chapter should end with an air of mystery, impending doom, or some other unsavory thing. (Am I the only one that hears Da da DUNNNN!!! in my head everytime I think "Impending Doom"?....) Ending a chapter on a happy note isn't necessarily a bad thing, but a "cliffhanger" ending forces the reader to keep reading, to discover how the character can possibly get out of their current predicament.

I often worrya bout endings later during the revision process. While writing the first draft, I just make chapter breaks about every 2,000 words or so, just to help keep my sanity when revising later. Having the novel broken up into 2K chunks, is much easier to deal with. During the revision stage is when I really look at what place would be good to end the chapter. I often move a paragraph or two from the end of one to the beginning of another to make it end on a note of suspense or tension.

Here is an example, again from my story Cleanse Fire. This is the end of chapter four. Derac and Kie are in the dwarf mines, trying to escape.

His quick reflexes didn't help when the wall next to them exploded. They both sprawled over the edge and slammed into the stairs below. He covered her body with his own until the rocks and debris stopped raining down on them. Derac glanced up and saw a group of dwarves rushing towards them. He craned his neck further to see the level above.

"Get them out of here, Tyn!" he yelled.

The dwarves swarmed them and dragged them further down into the cavern. They were thrown into a small cell; the solid iron door slammed shut behind them.

That is how I have the ending after revisions. In the first draft, the scene continued for a few paragraphs and had Derac wondering how they were going to get out. I moved it to start off chapter 6 instead, having this one end with the slamming door.

So how do you plan your chapter endings or the final scene? Do you make the reader hear da da DUNNNN at the end of your chapters?

12 Responses to "F is for Fin"

L.G.Smith Says :
April 7, 2011 at 9:09 AM

I had a critique partner write at the end of each of my chapters..."And cue the music swell". I never did know if he meant that as a good thing or not. :P

Angela Felsted Says :
April 7, 2011 at 10:52 AM

Da da DUNNNN!!! That's great.

Tessa Conte Says :
April 7, 2011 at 11:44 AM

I like! Endings are hard, chapter or book.

Although...I'd end it at '...further down into the cavern' and leave it totally open (but then I like to torture my readers, lol).

Laura Josephsen Says :
April 7, 2011 at 11:57 AM

My husband wrote "Dun dun dunnnn" at the end of a chapter he was editing for me once. ;)

I try to find good places to end a chapter and carry into the next one, too. My chapters average 4,000 words (some a bit shorter, some a bit longer).

Karen Walker Says :
April 7, 2011 at 4:25 PM

I am going to have to work on endings as I proceed with my first novel. In memoir writing, it wasn't as crucial.

Catherine Ensley Says :
April 7, 2011 at 8:16 PM

I cringe when I start to think of breaking my WIP into chapters. Scene endings aren't hard. The big The End isn't hard. But those chapter breaks ...

Nice to meet you, from a fellow A to Z'er and writer.

Dawn Embers Says :
April 8, 2011 at 1:21 AM

I used to end chapters, and still do at times during first drafts, during what felt like a good place to pause. I thought it was good to give the option for a break instead of making them feel the need to push on to the next chapter right away. Now, I'm working to end chapters better.

Anonymous Says :
April 8, 2011 at 3:46 AM

Endings are tricky, they can make or break a piece. Great post!

Also, my G-post was inspired by your prompt, Gumdrops, and it is up. It is (quite) dark, but I hope you like it.

Eric W. Trant Says :
April 8, 2011 at 1:34 PM

Yeah, you have to give them a reason to turn to the next chapter.

I have a much easier time with short stories than with novels. I'm going to keep at it with novels for a few more books and see if I can get the hang of it, but like Bradbury and Vonnegut, I may just be a short-story guy.

Because it's hard for me to get those hangers stuck at the end of each chapter!

- Eric

M Pax Says :
April 8, 2011 at 2:18 PM

Endings are slickery suckers. Chapter endings I've gotten down. When I get to the end end, I write down the initial story question and make sure I answer it.

Nicole Says :
April 8, 2011 at 5:15 PM

Rolling credits usually work for me, as I have no chapters....just scenes and dialogue.

I saw "Fin" in a short silent movie a few years ago and forgot that it meant the end.

The Madlab Post

Anastasia V. Pergakis Says :
April 8, 2011 at 10:11 PM

L.G.: I take it as a good thing!

Angela: Thanks!

Tessa: That is a great suggestion! Thanks. I'll see if I can rearrange it to make it work.

Laura: That's awesome that your hubby edits for you! I'm lucky if my hubby gets past the first few chapters. Fantasy just isn't his thing. :)

Karen: I hope my post helps you with that! Good luck!

Catherine: Yea, those chapter breaks used to give me problems too. Like I said, I just stop during first draft at around 2,000 words then during editing is when I move stuff around for better endings and such. It's much easier than to be stuck on the first draft with no ending.

Dawn: That is okay to do sometimes Dawn, depending on how exactly it ends. I know plenty of authors who do it that way.

Damyanti: I agree! I'll make sure to take a look at your gumdrops post for sure!

Eric: I know a short story writer turned novel writer and she said she thinks of chapters like their own short story but with a cliffhanger ending. So to her, a novel is more like...a series of short stories rather than a "novel of chapters".

MPax: That's a great idea to make sure the ending really closes everything up. Thanks for stopping by!

Nicole: The only reason I remember "fin" is from french class in high school! LOL Thanks for commenting!

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