Short Story endings

One of the lecturers I have this year often starts her lecture with a writing exercise. It is a creative writing class in prose fiction after all, so this is entirely appropriate. Rosanne uses a variety of approaches, each writing exercise is stimulating. It is also very good writing practice under pressure. I love these exercises, and I have become keen at sharing my writing later during the workshop session after the lecture.

Last week Rosanne wrote a sentence on the whiteboard. She then challenged us to write for about five minutes – ending our piece with that sentence. Here are some interesting (I hope) and challenging (I hope) story endings.  Use them in whatever way you like. Try them as warm up activities for your current writing project.

  1. Which one will I poison first?
  2. That is how the school burnt down.
  3. I will never go there again.
  4. That is the last time I ever saw her.
  5. It still amazes me that I lived to tell this tale
  6. I never expected to hear from him again.
  7. The precious key slipped from her hand, bounced once and disappeared over the edge of the jetty.
  8. Just when I’d given up all hope, the phone rang.
  9. Sometimes life is stranger than fiction.
  10. I was left staring at the solid door that had just been slammed in my face.

It was the first one we were challenged with. Here is what I wrote. Remember that we only had five minutes. This left little time for story or character development and none for rewriting.

Tuesday started like any other day: shower, breakfast, cuppa, paper, crossword and then don’t forget the teeth. All was going well, on schedule, according to plan, just like any other Tuesday.

Until.

Until my brother-in-law came to stay with his tribe of brats. All seven. Four boys and three girls plus two over active Jack Russells who always decided to wait until getting here to relieve themselves – on the new carpet.

‘I’ve left Susanna,’ he announced matter-of-factly. ‘Nowhere else to go. So I’ll have to move in with you. I’ll use the spare room shall I?’

I stared in disbelief. This was the fifth time it had happened. I couldn’t stand my brother-in-law. The Brat Pack was uncontrollable. The Jack Russells beyond control.

‘Which one will I poison first?’ was my immediate thought.

Have a go – let me know in the comments how it went.

Good writing.

 

39 Responses to “Short Story endings”

  1. Lauren says:

    I had to find an ending to a short story task .. the story starters actually really helped! thanks :)

  2. Trevor says:

    Hey that’s great Lauren. I always find it encouraging when readers make good use of what I have written. All the best in your writing endeavours.

  3. Susan says:

    These are helpful :)

  4. Trevor says:

    Thanks Susan – all the best with your writing. Let me know how it went.

  5. Owen Clement says:

    Great idea,
    I am a senior citizen who is a member of a writer’s group. Question: I know surprise endings are a good idea, but what about an ending where there is no sign in the earlier text of what occurs. For example, a violent man who brutalizes his wife and family suddenly commits suicide. Would it be better if the reader had a hint, even a slight one, that this would happen?
    I’d love your comments,

    All the best, Owen

  6. Trevor says:

    Hi there Owen,

    Welcome to my blog about writing. It’s great that you are a part of a writer’s group as I believe that this is an excellent way of not only meeting people but also for keeping the mind active and sharp. I should know – I began my Masters in Creative Writing degree at age 60!!!

    You make a very valid point about endings. A well written story or novel should give hints all along as to a possible ending. The main character(s) should ideally show some trait or do something which makes the ending not only in character but also entirely feasible and even inevitable. On the last page, the readers should be able to say, “Of course-I should have seen that coming from back in the third chapter…’ or whatever. It’s a little harder to pull this off in a short story because you don’t want to give away the ending too soon and you have fewer words at your disposal.

    It certainly is something to keep in mind.

    Thanks for your contribution.

  7. Louise says:

    You’ve just solved my problem! Like your writing colleague, I have lots of short stories written – but with no ending! I get ideas for stories but then they sort of fizzle out.

    Just for fun, I am going to create my own ‘final sentences’ and maybe somethng will click and maybe, they’ll trigger more ideas for short stories!

    Thanks!

  8. Trevor says:

    Welcome to my blog about writing Louise.

    Thanks for also leaving a comment.

    It must be a little discouraging to have lots of unfinished stories. Please, please, please don’t throw them away. They could well be the seeds of longer works later.

    Another suggestion is to leave an unfinished story filed away for a few weeks or even months, then come back to it with almost “fresh” eyes and ears. You read that correctly – EARS. Read the unfinished story out loud – better yet – get someone you trust to read to you. That story will have been ticking away in your subconscious for ages and might well be ready to mature into a complete story. The creative mind can be quite amazing at times.

    Another suggestion: a commonly used technique is to ask the simple question: “What happens next?” or even “What if…?”

    And how about “interviewing” your main character? You might be surprised what that character will say, or come up with.

    You could also ask yourself the question: “What does the main character really want? What motivates her? How will he get what he wants? And what or who is hindering fulfilling those wants or desires? These could be triggers to get you writing again.

    Hope this all helps.

  9. [...] leaving ideas from which I can benefit too. This is also great. Louise was one such reader today. Here is what she wrote: You’ve just solved my problem! I have lots of short stories written – but [...]

  10. Sileshi says:

    Can give me some hints for possible endings for “The Garden Party” by Katerine mansfield?

  11. Trevor says:

    I’m sorry Sileshi – I haven’t read that story so I can’t comment.

  12. Jody says:

    A different ending for The Garden Party would, perhaps, implicate Laurie in the death of the young man…It would be very vague and subtle, this implication. It could be worked in at the very point where Laurie meets Laura in the lane.

  13. Trevor says:

    Thanks for your contribution, Jody.

  14. wade says:

    hay can u help me find a ending for my short story?
    The bandit fell to the ground screaming in agony. This angered the rest who did not hold back any more they all ran towards her she jumped into the air and span in a circle creating a cyclone two of the bandits were to close to run they got sucked up the cyclone and flew into a tree.

    I looked around there was three bandits lying on the ground not moving a muscle the rest of the bandits ran in fear I felt as if I could conquer anything in the world It still amazes me that I lived to tell this tale.

    thats the last part of my story please help me

  15. Trevor says:

    Thanks for visiting my web site, Wade.

    I’m sorry, but I do not at this point give advice on the writing of my readers. However, it sounds like a suitable ending already. What more were you looking for?

    By the way – I will give you this piece of advice: CHECK YOUR WRITING. Just a quick count shows me at least 18 spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors. Find a friend who knows about these things and ask them to help you. It will improve your writing a great deal.

  16. Gus says:

    Hi, I am writing a “what happens next” for Roald Dahls Mrs Bixby and the colonels coat but I don’t have any ideas. Can you help?

    Thanks. Gus

  17. Trevor says:

    Hi there Gus,

    I’m sorry – I don’t know that story. I have read many of Dahl’s works but obviously not all of them.

    Dahl’s stories and books are usually quite outlandish and very quirky. When writers are stuck for ideas, they often ask themselves “what if…?”

    Ask yourself that question too. Then try to think of the most unusual, bizarre, quirky or improbable thing that could happen next. What if the coat could talk? What if it turned into a flying coat? What if Mrs Bixby could suddenly read minds? Or could change people into animals by just pointing her left thumb at them?

    Over to you.

  18. Jesse says:

    hi there ive just finished writing my story “sometimes life is stranger than fiction” helped my story no end thank you so much :)i had spent weeks trying to think of an ending but it just shows a little trigger can spark the imagination wildly again thank you, jesse 14,

    • Trevor says:

      I’m pleased that my ideas helped you, Jesse. I know it’s been a long time since you left this comment, but I’ve been very busy finishing my own story – a novel. It was the final work for my degree – and I got a distinction! Yay.

  19. jessie says:

    thanks this is a great help to my GCSE controlled assessment.

  20. Anna says:

    hi. thank you, i have to write a short story for one of my assessments, and i was going nowhere with the story i had. but after reading this, i started a whole new story, which is now fineshed, and hopefully going t get high marks. thank you for the ideas, i find it much easier to start a story at the ending, and this page helped.
    thanks again
    Anna x x

  21. danica lhene says:

    thanks this is a great help to my assignments

  22. amber says:

    these r not good endings.

    • Trevor says:

      Thanks for visiting my writing site, Amber. I appreciate your comment and I’m sorry they didn’t inspire you with your writing. If you read through all of the comments above you’ll see that they have helped many other writers. Seems I just can’t please everyone – and that’s fine. I hope you make good progress with your writing. All the best.

  23. Galit says:

    hi. i am 13 and at school, there is a compulsory short story competition that i am in the middle of doing. i enjoyed reading your ideas in your blog but i am looking for a particular closing line to my story. can you help? it is about a girl who is forced to do something for a stranger that she doesn’t want to do but if she doesn’t, the police will get involved. anyway, she is at this strangers house and finds a picture of this lady and her (the girls) grandmother smiling together so this girl asks this lady how she knows her grandmother and she says that she is her aunty, so they are related. i have written up till there but i cant think of a good closing line to end it. any ideas?

  24. cocoa says:

    these ideas. where so helpful, I finished My short story that I was working on for over 2 weeks! people like you inspire me!:)

  25. cocoa says:

    your story inspired me, IM so funny:)

  26. Beth says:

    I am panning to write a story I have wanted to write for quite a while. I have nearly finished the plan but I don’t know how to finish the story! Can you give me any advice, it would be greatly appreciated!!!! Thanks! :)

    • Trevor says:

      Hi Beth,

      Many stories have a point of conflict between two or more characters. A resolution to the conflict would be one way of ending the story. Other stories create a problem for the protagonist who needs to find a solution to the problem, often with one or more obstacles to overcome along the way. In a novel, there may be more than one point of conflict, and numerous obstacles to overcome.

      Many books written about how to write explain how to go about writing, including ending stories – you can usually find several books about writing in a library.

  27. emanuel says:

    hi. Im emanuel from Argentina.Im studyin English,and I have an exam next week . The task is writing short stories.. this is my email. manu8130@hotmail.com
    please add me, I want to show you some of my compositions. I am an amateur writer. thanks

  28. shannakaye says:

    hey trevor I got a short story using the following words …….as she made her way to yhe bus stop aleesa knew she was making the right choice she walkled confidently down the dirt road there would be no turning back….. help me frm here plz

  29. sha says:

    This was really helpful.

  30. Fizzah says:

    Can you srite an ending to a jungle story, I really need help I can write a story but the endinbs is what I get stuck on.pleasereply…

  31. kearstin says:

    good thinking trevor i really like it, it really helps.

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