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What makes a good story ending?

creature for February 3, 2011
Creature for the day

Over at Twitter #kidlitart, my cohost @BonnieAdamson and I (@WendyMartinArt), are gearing up for tonight’s chat (9PM eastern every Thur.)

Last month we began the Picture Book Dummy challenge. Basically, the members of the chat are putting together a picture book dummy from start to finish. The challenge ends in June.

This evening is the last week we will be discussing ‘story’ in manuscript form. Next week we begin the section on character development. For the illustrator, this is the meat of the project.

I decided I needed to follow along with the group in order to be better able to judge what topics need to be addressed as we move forward. So I dug out an old manuscript I had been noodling with as a self promo piece. I wrote it originally way back before my first book was published. Since that time I have joined the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators, been to several national conferences and local ones as well as some intensives. I’ve learned a lot, grown as both illustrator and writer. The document I opened, in a word – sucked.

So I began over. I have a fun story at about 450 words. The only thing it’s lacking is a great ending. Plus, with the current trend to shorter and shorter picture books, I have only 50 words to do it in. Less would be better.

What makes a great ending?

On  Marisa Montes’ web page, she states, “There are two endings to a book: physical and emotional.  What did the characters go through and what is their response?

The “physical resolution” means the solution to the puzzle, the problem overcome, the plot resolved.  The “emotional resolution” means how did the characters feel as they went through this experience and how were they changed.  At the beginning they might feel worried; at the end, relieved or happy.” (Scroll to the very bottom to see her book map.)

In short, the end of the story, should wrap up the action in a satisfying manner. The main character should have resolved some issue and there should be a bit of a teaser as well.

Teaser? I know you are scratching your head on that one. What I mean by that is the end should be a very tiny bit of a cliff hanger. Not so much that the book seems to be cut off in the middle, but enough so that the reader gets the impression that the story continues beyond the last page of the book. No ‘and they lived happily ever after,’ that’s just a yawn!


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