I voted first thing in the morning.  My neighbor was there—one of the election officers.  Didn’t leave much time before work.

After work, I realized I needed to adjust my timeline a little.  I was creating more headaches for myself by leaving it the way it was.  Now I’m trying to think of what talking heads would say if they saw a superhero.  Everyone’s got an opinion, even if they know absolutely nothing!

And onto Pantsers and the Ending.

Endings are hard to get right for pantsers.  A lot of times, you get to the end and the creative side decides “The story is done,” and somehow that ending got botched.

Problem #1: General writing sources do not teach how to end a story.  So let’s get one myth out of the way: The climax of the story is not the ending.

The climax is the part before the ending.  So if you end on the climax, the story will feel unsatisfying, though readers won’t be able to explain why.

The actual ending is called the validation.  You see it a lot in TV shows.  NCIS is good at it.  It’s that little piece at the very end where the characters wrap up one of the personal stories.  In the TV world, it’s called the tag.

An example of a good validation is a TV detective who gets shot in the climax and he’s hurt pretty bad.  In the tag, we see him in the hospital, looking much better and arguing with the nurse.  The viewer knows he’s okay.  This tells us, the viewer, the story is done.

An example of a bad ending: The hero is trapped in a car that went off the side of the road.  He’s seriously injured and can’t call for help.  The story ends with another character racing down the hillside to find him. (If it’s a TV show, they probably ran out of time.)

Once you start looking at the ending of shows, you’ll see pretty fast what works and what doesn’t.

A validation/tag has a time jump after the climax.  It also ties into the beginning of the story in some way.  It can be a summary.

Problem #2 for pantsers?

We get to the end of the story and the creative side is like “I’m done” and doesn’t quite do a few extra steps. So:

  1. Let the story sit for a few days.  That’ll give you brain time to process the story, and also to reduce the resistance of your creative side whining, “But it’s already done.”
  2. Read through the entire story (and probably fix more typos).
  3. Cycle through your ending, fleshing it out.  If you’re using cycling when you write, your ending won’t have gotten any cycling passes.

For more information on Endings, Dean Wesley Smith has both a lecture on Endings and a full workshop.  I’ve had the lecture, so if budget is an issue, it’s a good place to start. A friend who took the workshop said it was pretty good and helped her understand what she was doing wrong.