September 2017: The tail end

Tonight we did a writing exercise that Sally brought in by the Magic Violinist called How to End a Story.

Before we started we identified that we all had our preferred types of endings. ‘Ambiguous’ was popular within our group, as was ‘bittersweet’. We agreed we rarely write tragic or happy endings. The exercise intended to challenge ourselves by writing an ending type that we wouldn’t usually do.

The exercise talked about 4 different types of story endings:

  1. The “happily ever after” ending
  2. The tragic ending
  3. The ambiguous ending
  4. The bittersweet ending

We started all our stories with the same phrase: “The lizard was enormous, at least three feet long. It also wasn’t in its tank.” We had to write the ending first, in a style that challenged us. Then we had 10 minutes to complete the exercise.

Iguana, Watch, Lizard, Reptile, Animal, Dragon, Scale
Image by

We learnt that we often gravitate towards a preferred ending. We all found it quite challenging to think outside that style and we had to push ourselves to get to the different ending.

The mere fact we had to start with an ending was challenging for most of us. For on person, the ‘the ending first’ approach was a comfortable one, as that’s how she usually writes (starting with the ending, then problem solving to get the characters to that ending). But for everyone else, it was an entirely new concept to follow.

Our stories went down paths they don’t usually go. One person found it exciting to work towards that bittersweet ending, and another discovered a surprising taste for horror, following her tragic ending story.

What is your preferred ending style? Please share your ideas below.