The Dos and Don’ts of Novel Endings

dos-and-donts“The Dos and Don’ts of Novel Endings” by James V. Smith Jr. 27th March, 2012. Writer’s Digest.

In learning how to end your novel with a punch, it’s important to know what you can and can’t do to write success novel endings that attract agents, publishers and, most important, readers. Here are the dos and don’ts of writing a strong closer.

Don’t introduce any new characters or subplots. Any appearances within the last 50 pages should have been foreshadowed earlier, even if mysteriously.

Don’t describe, muse, explain or philosophize. Keep description to a minimum, but maximize action and conflict. You have placed all your charges. Now, light the fuse and run.

Do create that sense of Oh, wow! Your best novelties and biggest surprises should go here. Readers love it when some early, trivial detail plays a part in the finale. One or more of those things need to show up here as decisive elements.

Do enmesh your reader deeply in the outcome. Get her so involved that she cannot put down your novel to go to bed, to work or even to the bathroom until she sees how it turns out.

DO Resolve the central conflict. You don’t have to provide a happily-ever-after ending, but do try to uplift. Readers want to be uplifted, and editors try to give readers what they want.

Do Afford redemption to your heroic character. No matter how many mistakes she has made along the way, allow the reader—and the character—to realize that, in the end, she has done the right thing.

Do Tie up loose ends of significance. Every question you planted in a reader’s mind should be addressed, even if the answer is to say that a character will address that issue later, after the book ends.

Do Mirror your final words to events in your opener. When you begin a journey of writing a novel, already having established a destination, it’s much easier to make calculated detours, twists and turns in your storytelling tactics. When you reach the ending, go back to ensure some element in each of your complications will point to it. It’s the tie-back tactic. You don’t have to telegraph the finish. Merely create a feeling that the final words hearken to an earlier moment in the story.

Don’t change voice, tone or attitude. An ending will feel tacked on if the voice of the narrator suddenly sounds alien to the voice that’s been consistent for the previous 80,000 words.

Don’t resort to gimmicks. No quirky twists or trick endings. You’re at the end of your story, and if your reader has stuck with you the whole time, it’s because you’ve engaged her, because she has participated. The final impression you want to create is a positive one. Don’t leave your reader feeling tricked or cheated.

Source: The Dos and Don’ts of Novel Endings

How to Write a Novel: Some instructive facts about fiction

“How to Write a Novel: Some instructive facts about fiction” by Emma Straub. 9 September, 2014. Rookie.

Of the six novels I’ve written in my life, two have been published. I’ve heard writers say that you have to relearn how to write a novel every time you do it, which I think is true in some ways, but there are some basic guidelines that can help you find your way—and novice-type pitfalls that you can avoid. The advice I’m about to give you won’t work for everyone, or for every book, because fiction is art and art cannot hew strictly to rules and guidelines, but if you need a little help getting started, here is my Very Serious Guide to Writing a Novel.

1. Know what’s important to you.
2. Make an outline.
3. Set attainable goals.
4. Write.
5. Find readers.
6. Revise that sucker for as long as it takes.
7. Give yourself a gigantic pat on the back.

Read more via Rookie » How to Write a Novel

4 Things To Keep In Mind When Choosing A Title For Your Book

Just as a great cover will help sell a book, so will a great title – Source:

“4 Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Title for Your Book” by Karen Woodward. 13 May, 2013. Karen Woodward.

That’s what I’ve been doing for the past few days, researching how to create the perfect title. I’m kicking myself for not doing this while Chuck Wendig had his Titular Titles flash fiction challenge.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far. A great title is:

1. Easy To Remember

There are few things more frustrating than someone telling me the title of a book they think I’d love and then not being able to remember it at the bookstore!

Help readers out, make the title of your work memorable. Yes, I know, that’s easier said than done but there are a few simple tips.


Have you ever noticed that poetry is easier to memorize than prose? It has rhythm, meter.

Maryann Yin gives these titles as examples: When Crickets Cry and Wildflowers from Winter.


This isn’t always true, but I think it’s best to try and keep a title to four words or less.

For more tips on choosing a title: Karen Woodward: 4 Things To Keep In Mind When Choosing A Title For Your Book

How to Plan, Write, and Develop a Book: What Makes a Chapter? What Makes a Scene?

“How to Plan, Write, and Develop a Book” by Mary Carroll Moore. 17 September, 2011.

“A common question in my book-writing classes is the difference between chapters and scenes.  Both are pathways, bridges between one moment and the next.  But what makes a chapter work?  What makes a collection of scenes warrant its own chapter?

In my teaching, I’ve learned these are essential signposts for each, which help the writer know how to section her manuscript–and if more or less is needed.”

Read more via How to Plan, Write, and Develop a Book: What Makes a Chapter? What Makes a Scene?.

How to Outline a Novel Chapter by Chapter

“How to Outline a Novel Chapter by Chapter by Kori Morgan”. The Classroom.

“Writing a novel is a massive undertaking that often requires planning before you start putting words on paper. In particular, a chapter-by-chapter outline lets you jot down the main ideas for each installment of your book, from what characters appear in each chapter to how its major scenes advance the plot. Outlining each chapter of your novel can lessen the stress of your project by giving you an idea of where your story might be headed.”

Read more via How to Outline a Novel Chapter by Chapter | The Classroom | Synonym.

Back to Basics: Writing a Novel Synopsis

An article by Jane Friedman

What is a synopsis?

The synopsis conveys the narrative arc of your  novel; it shows what happens and who changes, from beginning to end.

There is no single “right” way to write a synopsis. You’ll also find conflicting advice about the appropriate length, which makes it rather confusing territory for new writers especially. However, I recommend keeping it short, or at least starting short. Write a 1-page synopsis and use that as your default, unless the submission guidelines ask for something longer. Most agents/editors will not be interested in a synopsis longer than a few pages.

Read more via Back to Basics: Writing a Novel Synopsis | Jane Friedman.