Writing teachers often call the final part of a story the denouement (pronounced day-noo-mah). The author resolves the conflicts, ties up the loose ends, and shows how the protagonist is better off in some way than he or she was at the beginning of the story (unless you are writing a tragedy).
You started in the protagonist’s ordinary world, and now you create a new ordinary world in which the character can rest and reflect. He usually realizes the importance of the themes you have included in the story, and he expresses sorrow over what he lost and joy over what he accomplished and gained.
In this section, you can show who survived, who died, who married, and who will go on with the protagonist in a sequel. Stories often end with a wedding, a funeral, or with a scene of departure for a new journey. Let the characters’ emotions flow. Let the protagonist say thank you to other characters without whom he could never have survived, good-bye to warriors who will now go in another direction, and hello to those who have been missing or are returning to the character’s life.
Yet, with all of this, you should make the scene short. Wrap it up and finish with a satisfying sigh of contentment. Readers usually prefer a wrap-up that doesn’t linger too long. The exception is when you are writing the final book in a series. Readers who have come this far on a long journey will enjoy a more complete denouement. They have learned to love the characters and want to know what happens to them.
Here are few elements to remember when writing the final scene:
- Readers need a satisfying ending. Satisfaction comes with a feeling of triumph, which comes from a victory against seemingly impossible odds.
- There must be some victory. If the story is a series, the first book might not have a complete victory, but at least a sense of accomplishment must occur.
- A scene after a victory often displays both agony and ecstasy. Victory that comes at great cost usually generates more emotion in a reader than if nothing was lost.
- The protagonist’s courage and sacrifice are recognized and rewarded in some way. Readers want others to witness what they have witnessed, that this hero is really amazing.
- If victory wasn’t complete, create the setup for a sequel. Show that the protagonist has another step to accomplish, though he is resting at the moment.
If you have any questions or comments, please post them.
Categories: Writing Tips