‘Nobody reads a book to get to the middle.’ ~Mickey Spillane (American crime novelist)
Whether you’re writing a book or writing a marketing piece, you need to ensure your ending is rewarding for your reader. After all, they have come on a journey with you through the beginning and middle to get there! It should have the most drama, tie up the loose ends and leave the reader with something memorable.
Here are five tips to ensure your reader will want to finish reading the story AND be excited about reading your next story
- Narrow your hero’s options.
A sense of the inevitable needs to be present. Your hero (which will be your ideal client in the case of writing a marketing piece) should start to realise that the path to his or her goal lies in only one direction (your service or product) – usually the one he or she has been trying to avoid. Allow them to try other pathways (competitive offerings), but make sure they fail (show them the pitfalls of these options). Typically the hero’s rival (the devil on their shoulder) will rear their head again here, creating obstacles as a test.
- Make everything worse for your hero.
Keep the reader wondering whether or not your hero will achieve their story goal. Suspense is a great page-turner. The worse the story gets and the fewer pages your reader has left, the more anticipation you can build. The end of your story should contain many more scenes of action than reflection.
- Resolve all story lines.
Your content piece, whether a full blown novel, blog or eBook, should be written from the beginning with the end in mind. Each ‘scene’ needs to be building and carving out a plot that leads to the end game. And each story line must resolve itself. The most important story line should last the longest, thereby keeping your reader in suspense for longer. Don’t go introducing any new characters or ideas in the last quarter of the story. The most satisfying stories are those where the central conflict is resolved. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a happily-ever-after ending but readers do like to be left with some hope.
- Tie up loose ends.
Try not to leave your reader wondering what happened to any of the characters or be left with unanswered questions.
- End on a strong note.
Don’t try to be too tricky here by throwing in a red herring; the most important thing is to create a sense that the story has really ended. Readers like to know that the journey has made sense all along and that the hero has come to the conclusion they have because of choices they made early on in the story. If we’re still there at the end, it’s because we are invested in the outcome. The final impression of your writing should be positive. Trickery can leave a reader feeling cheated and not inclined to come back.