The importance of a good finale in fiction

There was an article in last week’s Globe and Mail mentioning that Hemingway’s publishers are reissuing the 1929 classic ‘Farewell to Arms’ with all 47 of his draft endings – his clear struggle to get it right indicates the importance of getting a good finale in fiction.

When you are writing a story – how do you craft the ending ?



  1. 1
    Vin Smith Says:

    …The ending must be some kind of payoff for the reader, who has stayed with you until the end. You cannot just give short shrift to it, and sometimes, writers appear to do just that. And you cannot assume that you can only allow happy endings. Some stories do not hold up well with a nice, cut and dried ending. In fact, if yoy think you must always tie things up in a pretty bow, you will have committed the worst sin of the writer in all of recorded history: The deus ex machina… Shame on the Greeks.

  2. 2
    Vin Smith Says:

    Here is Part II of my response to how to create a good ending…

    Now, here is how you create an ending to a story you are working on. First, ask four questions. 1). What did your characters go through? 2). What was their story arc? In other words, how did they react to their experiences? 3). What would be the logical ending for that story arc? 4). Can you shake the cage? Mix up the ending into an unexpected conclusion, and perhaps surprise your readers–without harming the path that you have traveled with this progression?

    If your readers feel you have taken unfair advantage of their sensibilities, then your story will be in trouble. You must be scrupulously honest with your co-conspirators–YOUR READERS!Here is Part II of my response to the Neil McKenty Exchange on endings…

  3. 3
    Vin Smith Says:

    …I just want to add a comment here… Not particularly about endings, though I suppose it actually is. I hope this blog continues for a long, long time. I came across it quite by accident–from an E-Mail I believe. I think Exchange With Neil McKenty is the best blog I have ever read. I was on a business trip in South Dakota when I heard that Neil had passed. When a man, or a woman, has added to the greater dialogue with the impact that Neil had, his or her work should be continued. As long as I breathe, if this blog continues, I will participate…

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