IWSG Post III: Tips for Wrestling With The End of Your Book

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]


I love Stephen Covey’s work. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People helped me grow into a better person. Habit 2 is one I run across all the time in leadership and communications training: “Begin with the End in Mind.”

I think most dreamers, writers and authors do make a point to envision the outcome. The problem I think we sometimes face is the shift of the end along the way. There is possible redirection, or a new smaller fork in the road, and what do you do when your end picture doesn’t make as much sense as you thought it should when you started?

Monday night in a text conversation with my writing partner Becky, we talked about endings to stories. She started off asking about my main characters and how they were going. I said, “Great.” I’d written three new chapters over the holiday weekend, and my dialogue and action sequences threatened to derail the ending. With only a handful of chapters remaining, my ending suddenly shifted. I asked her, “How do you decide which way to end the story?”

She said something back to me like this, “Write them all and then pick out the one you think fits best when you’re done.”

Thank you Becky.

Your words freed my mind up from the outline I’d created and I thought up a direction I’d never attempt to try, hurting one of my characters I’d never normally stomach to hurt.

So today’s post is all about encouragement. I’ve been cruising around the web and checking out tips and tricks on making it through a manuscript to the end. I thought I’d share some of my favorite points and where they came from.


Tips From Holly Lisle:

“Write the ending, and then write to it.”

Not only do I outline along the way, but as I outline I try to build in clues foreshadowing messages in the end. What Holly talks about is the surprise the reader feels at the end and how clever some of these clues are so when the reader finally finishes the book, they wonder, wow, that was so cleverly done I didn’t see the end coming, but yet the clues were there all along.

The outline piece.

Holly mentioned the importance of using an outline, but then to also allow the element of surprise to slip in to your work. I think personally, this satisfies my need to both use structure and to also have the permission to live the dialogue and the action with my characters. I admit, I often get swept away and my chapters sometimes change when I least expect them to.


The one tip I found helpful from WikiHow

Sit down and identify the problem. Write all the solutions down. Then for me, see where your gut takes you.

Finally, I visited Charlie Jane Anders Blog and pulled a few points.

Take a long walk and play out some of the scenes in your mind as you go, regardless if you start talking to yourself.

I love this one. It’s exactly what I do and I always explain to those who hear me ramble around me, I can’t help it. I’m a deep thinker and I live what I love.

I also love the point of throwing in more obstacles as you’re writing. The author of the blog mentioned how much we writers write when we feel like the steam is rolling at super speed. Add more roadblocks and see how the characters react, which brings me to the last point she talked about, write the end for your villain.

So that’s my list of a few lovely and fun tips on making it to the end of the book. I think I’ll stick to my friend Becky’s advice and write for all endings. It freed my mind, and to me, sometimes that’s all I need: permission to blow up my own roadblock.

Do you have a favorite tip for finishing up your work? I’d love to hear it.


About Erika Beebe

Author, dreamer, and a momma to a couple of wonderful kids, I try to live life everyday in hope and inspire others along my way.

Posted on December 2, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Erika, that is exactly what I do. I write the first three chapters to see if I am engaged enough with the character and plot to spend 1000 hours on them. Then I skip to the ending and write that, to make sure I have a killer conclusion. Then I go back to the beginning and write forward from there. I may change the route as I go, if another one rocks, but I know where I’m going. Nice to meet you!

  2. Great advice. It’s kind of reassuring that I do some of these things already, like visualizing scenes while out on a walk (or run). I’ve written two novels without outlines, and I’d really like to use one for my third novel so my word count doesn’t bloat so badly.

  3. I’ve run into this problem many times–I think the ending is going to be a certain way, and then when I get there it’s different. I like the surprise though, I like that I can still be as shocked as the reader would be!

    • Me too Megan. I think it’s so fun to be able to really feel the characters to that point they take me off track. The hard part is letting go of the outline after all the blood sweat and tears. Thank you for stopping in 😊

  4. Great advice! I often get to the end I have in mind and suddenly things change for me…I get a new epiphany about a plot twist or something that never occurred to me before. I usually write the new ending, but I didn’t really think about writing the “old” ending too. Maybe I’ll try that next time! Thanks! 🙂

  5. I like that approach to an ending too. 🙂

    Anna from Elements of Writing

  6. I really should try writing the end first because I have all sorts of problems with endings.

  7. There are some great tips here, Erika. Thanks for sharing them. I’m a walker so I do a lot of planning, plotting, thinking while I walk. I need the structure of an outline but I tend to let my characters lead me once it all starts rolling. I have a book stashed in my desk drawer that just didn’t work out in the end (may revisit it someday) because I refused to vary from my outline. I should have listened to the characters. 🙂 Great post!

  8. Those are great tips, Erika. I always have an ending in mind and then, like with you, because of other factors in the book, it always ends up ending differently. I especially like the idea of your writing partner, suggesting you write several endings and then choosing one. I want to try it:)

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