Organization — Pattern of Three (Part 3: Endings)
So, we’ve arrived at the topic of conclusions. Endings are hard. Let me say that again: ENDINGS ARE HARD!
Last week I wrote the ending of my newest middle grade novel. Observe the writer at work: she’s fidgety, she’s irritable, her brain feels incapable of functioning. She paces, she eats (no, not fruit and veggies), and if the ending she’s writing is worth its salt, she cries (or at least tears-up). Why?
Because an ending doesn’t just “wrap the story up,” it has to give the reader a perfect “aaah” moment. A moment of insight, a moment to smile, a moment that’s going to make the reader jump up from his or her chair and rush it into the hands of the next available reader.
So if professional writers have such difficulty with endings, how do we teach our students to master this craft?
First of all, I tell students the job of the ending. Most of us know that the job of a beginning is to grab the reader’s attention and not let go. The job of the ending is to prompt the reader to feel, “I’m so glad I read this!”
With the pattern of three, I discussed in the last two posts there are two possible endings:
- Either the reader gets what he wants, or
- S/He changes his mind.
You’ll find both of these endings in the literature in your classroom.
In the book Andy Shane and the Pumpkin Trick, Andy wants to trick the kids who are stealing Dolores Starbuckle’s pumpkin and he succeeds!
In Andy Shane and the Queen of Egypt, Andy wants to be the only student to present Egypt during the school culture fair.After much cajoling (and a little help) from Dolores, the QUEEN of Egypt, he changes his mind. Still, we writers need to add that extra beat – that “aaah” moment. How do we do this? I’ll propose some ways in the next post.
I know, if I stuck to my original organizational plan, I would be wrapping up right now. Here’s something to remember:
- Outlines are just that – outlines. Writers inevitably need to revise, which often means veering outside the outline.
- I have a really hard time with endings.