Leave a Lasting Impression

Sunday, June 06, 2010
"It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."

"Now is the winter of our discontent."

"Call me Ishmael."

Novelists strive to capture a reader's attention from the first word or opening line. Overall, writers work toward creating the perfect opening scene with enough intrigue to draw the reader into the storyline.

But what happens when the reader flips each page, develops a sense of empathy with the hero or heroine, struggles through the nail-biting conflict leading to a satisfying conclusion only to find themselves unfulfilled?

An impractical or bland ending will leave readers wondering why they invested quality reading time in a novel that failed to gratify. And worse yet, those readers may not endorse a book. While the situation may not seem terrible, writers need to remember that a reader's positive review to a fellow reader, a book club member, librarian, a book blog readership will ultimately increase sales.

What's a reader to do or not to do? Keep these trusted tips in mind when you're writing those last lines:
  • Do foreshadow the conclusion by using your imagination and sharing that insight early in the story. A surprise ending will work if it's plausible.
  • DO NOT introduce new characters in the last few pages.
  • Do resolve subplots with realistic outcomes.
  • DO NOT wrap up loose ends too quickly. A story must keep its natural sense of rhythm or readers will recognize the hurry-up-and-get-this-finished work.

A story's ending should be as exciting as its opening pages. It should engage the reader, keep them flipping through pages, allow for empathy, and keep her on the edge of her seat with anticipation.

If a story doesn't meet these needs at the end, even the best written story will be forgotten instead of possibly becoming a classic.

by LuAnn Schindler. Visit her website http://luannschindler.com or follow her on Twitter @luannschindler.


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