Every story needs a proper ending, but not all endings are made equal. There are many types of story endings that writers can use to conclude their tale, but choosing the right one takes a great understanding and vision of the world they’ve built, and awareness of their audience’s perception of it.
A good author needs to keep to their unique style when writing a story that keeps their readers invested. This also means that they need to think carefully about how to end a story in a way that satisfies these people.
This is no easy task, however. It isn’t enough to have good writing skills. One must also know how to make the right decision when choosing an ending that naturally closes the narrative. The journey has been building up to this point, so now is the time for writers to make the crucial decision on what kind of ending to have.
6 Types of Story Endings
Whether you love it or hate it, the truth is that endings make or break entire stories for most readers. If you want to end a story that sticks with people long after they read it, you need to know more about the different types of story endings out there.
1. The Resolved Ending
Of all the ways to finish a story, this one is definitely the most popular and most widely used. Writers often go for clear conclusions to resolve all the events throughout the story. Most people prefer a direct answer to the questions that were left hanging. Readers want to know how everything plays out and where all the characters end up.
The Resolved Ending is one of the best ways to end a story naturally and give an explicit answer to everyone’s questions. If you were writing a story full of love and romance, then your ending would likely be to have your main characters end up together.
Keep in mind that not all stories need to have happy conclusions. Some tales are built up to have tragic ends and that’s just fine. Sometimes it would be more impactful that way. Just be sure to wrap everything up nicely.
2. The Unresolved Ending
The Unresolved Ending, also known as an Implicit ending, is the complete opposite of a clear resolution. Unresolved stories remain a mystery to readers because the conclusion is not explicitly shown at the end. The audience can only guess what happens next, since they are left with even more questions.
Writing a story with an unresolved outcome can be a good way for authors to set up events for an upcoming sequel in a series of works. However, types of story endings like this are not recommended if you plan to publish a standalone book or if your narrative focuses heavily on themes like mystery and suspense. Most readers want a satisfying finale and would hate to end a story on a cliffhanger.
3. The Ambiguous Ending
When an ending is ambiguous, it is up to the audience to interpret the outcome of events in their own view. Unlike an unresolved story that does not give any definite direction or clear conclusion, an ambiguous ending implies a real outcome to the reader. It may be vague but that’s what sets it apart from other types of story endings that follow a linear path.
Writing a story with an open-ended conclusion gives the readers the opportunity to decide on an ending that fits the narrative in a way that makes the most sense to them. Fluid storytelling of events is the key to making ambiguity work in the right setting. It allows your readers to come to a natural conclusion on their own.
4. The Tied-Back
If you’ve read a lot of books or seen a good number of movies, you will notice that some of them don’t follow the usual story structures we see in the majority of works. Some of the most interesting types of story endings are those that end where they first started.
Introducing readers to the present situation in time is a compelling way to begin the narrative. Instead of a slow build-up and reveal of the characters, the readers are immediately thrust into the center of the chaos from the very start.
After you’ve caught your reader’s attention with what just happened, they will begin to ask questions like how and why things ended up this way. You then take them back to the beginning, before things unfold.
This is a powerful way of keeping the audience through the entire journey. They will likely want to stick around to see the unveiling events which lead to the beginning’s circumstances.
5. The Epilogue
When you end a story with an epilogue, it simply means peering into the future to see how the characters are doing years after the story takes place. Whether the characters survive the thrilling events or have their lives changed because of the things they’ve been through.
You can end on a high note by giving your audience the happily ever after they want to see, or the opposite. Showing that the characters didn’t get what they wanted, even through all the events in the story. It’s a harsher yet more impactful way of teaching the hard lessons in life.
6. The Plot-Twist
We’re all familiar with unexpected endings that happen out of nowhere, these can either amaze us or leave us unsatisfied with the outcome. A plot twist is a good way to catch people off guard and inject a rush of excitement into your readers. The downside to plot twists is that it heavily depends on how well the story was crafted in order to be effective.
If you want to end a story with a plot twist, you need to be sure that it fits the setting and situation of the characters. A surprise ending needs to make sense in the context of the plot and has to be digestible for the reader. Otherwise, it’ll end up feeling “cheap” or unnatural.
By now you probably realize how important endings are to your success when writing a story. This also means that you are now equipped with all the types of story endings at your disposal to create a satisfying conclusion.
If you want some help in your writing journey, consider getting a writing coach that can guide you through the process. It isn’t easy being a writer, but sometimes all we need is the right direction from someone with expertise and experience.