1 Secret of Ending a Story Well

Occasionally in my writing life, I reach a point where I have questions that need to be answered before I can proceed. Sometimes these are questions about the effectiveness of an elliptical poem or what the intention of my poem will be; other times, it is searching for advice on how to end a story.

Below, I have included a portion of Cat Rambo’s take on “three things that end a story well,” originally posted on her blog, “The World Remains Mysterious: The Writing of Cat Rambo.”

While more experienced fiction writers may find this advice to be “obvious,” I found the following pieces of advice to be important reminders in writing… and I also realized that one of my previous stories is only a third of the way done, rather than reaching its end… (consider that as a preview of what’s to come).

(One of) Cat Rambo’s 3 Things That End A Story Well

1) Circularity is a big help. It provides a sense that the reader has returned to the beginning, but now everything is changed. Here’s a cheat – take something that appears in your first three paragraphs and invoke it in your last three as well. It can be changed – the rose that initially trembled, dew-covered, as our heroine picked it is now lying withered and flat in the road. Or it is a new rose, being picked by another woman who is the replacement for the first?

For an example of this, I’m actually going to be obnoxious and point to my own story, Magnificent Pigs. Technically I cheat, because the object I used doesn’t appear until the fourth paragraph, the brass bed which creaks in protest as Aaron sits down. At the end it’s become the object of Jilly’s salvation, the vehicle that carries her away into the sky. There’s other reappearing things: pigs are mentioned right off the bat (in the title, even) and they’re crucial to the end. And the story begins and ends with the idea of death and (hopefully) changes your perception of it.

Again, to read Rambo’s piece in its entirety, please visit her blog.

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About mckenzielynntozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives and writes in South Bend, Indiana, where she works as the Departmental Secretary of English and World Language Studies at Indiana University South Bend, and remains closely affiliated with 42 Miles Press, New Issues Poetry and Prose, and Wolfson Press. She previously received her MFA in Poetry from Western Michigan University, where she worked as the Layout and Design Editor for New Issues Poetry and Prose and as an Assistant Editor of Poetry for Third Coast. Her poems have appeared in Encore Magazine, Sleet Magazine, Rogue Agent, Thank You for Swallowing, Whale Road Review, The James Franco Review, The Birds We Piled Loosely, and Analecta; and her book reviews have appeared on her website and on The Rumpus. She lives with her husband, their daughter, and three cats. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com. View all posts by mckenzielynntozan

4 responses to “1 Secret of Ending a Story Well

  • Cat Rambo

    Hi McKenzie!

    I’m flattered that you enjoyed my post enough to reproduce it in its entirety and I appreciate your linking back to the site. I’m not sure, though, that reproducing posts in their entirety falls inside the rules of fair use, and I’d like to request that you remove some of the content.

    What I’d do in a similar situation on my own blog would be to quote a paragraph or two of, or else perhaps synopsize, the content, and link back to the original content.

    Thanks,
    Cat

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