In this eFile and other writings, time has been spent discussing the importance of the beginning, in particular, the first paragraph, the first page, and the first 10% of the story. What has not been considered is THE END.
During initial story development it is important for the protagonist and antagonist to have goals. That applies to the story as well, so while laying out the outline, details, and notes, a couple important questions to answer are:
- What are the main characters' goals?
- What is the story's goal?
The entire story answers the Who, When, Where, How, and Why. Then, as the very first paragraph starts everything rolling, the very last paragraph ends the journey, but it needs to be as special as the first to leave the reader satisfied. This would be the “clincher,” a memorable closing, something that leaves an impression upon the reader and say succinctly what has been discussed during the preceding pages.
In Rudyard Kipling's “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi,” a pet mongoose saves his human child, Teddy, from a cobra. Kipling's clincher was the mongoose's soliloquy, “Oh, it's you,” said he. (Referring the appearance of Teddy's parents.) “What are you bothering for? All the cobras are dead; and if they weren't I'm here.”
Rod Serling's “Twilight Zone” TV series used the works of many writers whose stories are memorable because of the ending. One story was “To Serve Man.” Aliens come to earth and help eradicate disease and hunger. This benevolent act is uncovered in the very last minute of the story – the book the aliens dropped, “To Serve Man,” is a cook book.
In the short story, “Mariann and the Snake,” a teenage girl has a dream of something terrible coming out of her bedroom closet during the night. Sure enough, a mouse appears and sets the household in an uproar. The next night, another mouse appears, this time followed by a deadly snake. Everyone evacuates safely as the dad stands guard so the snake can not invade the rest of the house. Huddled on the neighbor's yard across the street, a policeman comes to inform them that they can't find the snake. (From “Stories for a Sleepless Night.”)
This final shot to impress the reader is in addition to closure, or letting the reader know what happened to the main characters and some of the supporting ones as well. In the final scene of the “Harry Potter” series, we discover that Harry has married Ron's sister, Ginny, and Ron has married Hermione. They have children that are now on the way to Hogwarts. Even Draco Malfoy has a family and seems to be on nodding terms with Harry; a powerful message about change and forgiveness in that very brief encounter.
Start with a snap. Carry on with a crackle. End with a pop.