How to End Your Novel

How To End Your Novel

I recently ran a writing retreat called ‘Finish your Novel and Get it Published.’  This offered valuable writing time, group work and one-to-one sessions which afforded each writer immersive time to spend on their work in progress.

We did lots of activity around editing, publication, networking and marketing but feedback highlighted the necessity to pull together some ‘black and white’ guidance for the physical ending of a novel.

This blog post has been written as an addition to my participants’ notes and am sharing it on my blog in
the hope it may help others and is aimed at writers who are around the three-quarter point of their novel and offers tips and things to think about:

  • Refer to your original plan, if you have one. How far have you strayed from it?  Add some detail from the point you are at now, as initial plans often focus on the earlier part of the story.
  • Make a list of your main characters, starting with your protagonist. How have they evolved so far, since the start?
    How to end your novel
          If you know where you’re going, you’re       more likely to get there

    What has yet to happen to each one?  Think about how on track they are to achieve their goals?  Who or what is standing in their way?

  • Write your final scene, if you haven’t already. If you know where you are going, you are more likely to get there.
  • If you are about to have a big twist or a ‘reveal’ at the end, consider whether you have planted enough subtle clues along the way so far. Do you need to plant anymore?
  • If you are feeling stuck, perhaps you could pose some ‘what if’s’  (what is so-and-so came back? What if they decided something else?  What if h/she had an affair/died/left/lied, etc) How many what if’s can you pose at the point you are currently at?
  • Bullet point the chapters you think you still have left to write. Make sure your ‘climax’ chapter will be as close to the end as possible.
  • The take each of the chapters and bullet point them into 5 or 6 scenes.
  • You could, one scene at a time, bullet point what will happen within it. Each scene should have a beginning middle and end.  I find that a scene almost ‘writes itself’ when I have thought about it and mapped it out before starting.
  • If writing chronologically, each scene of each chapter should build on the one that has gone before. Similarly, each chapter of the book should build on the one that has gone before.
  • Think about how you would like your reader to feel after they have finished reading your novel (uplifted, emotional, sad, etc) and keep that mood as you continue to write to the end.
  • Is a sequel possible? (readers and publishers love a series or a trilogy!) If so you will still have to bring ‘resolution’ at the end but leave on a slight ‘cliff-hanger.’
  • Set yourself goals, e.g. I will complete one scene every two days. Set yourself three goals now.  Remember they should be ‘SMART’ (Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time related.)

This list is by no means exhaustive but will hopefully give you a few tips if you are ever feeling a bit stuck.  As always, if there is ever anything I can help you with, just drop me a line.  I am always happy to help a fellow writer.

© Maria Stephenson