I’ve finally come to the end of plotting. Today’s topic is appropriately planning an Ending, also called the Resolution.
All things must end. Otherwise nothing new can begin. Even if you’re planning a series, the first book has to end or the next one cannot get started. The characters have to resolve, or determine how they will configure life going forward.
The proper ending or resolution scene is one that demonstrates the character’s satisfaction for achieving their goal and gives an idea where they think they’ll go from here. If the goal is “get the girl” and the climax won her heart, the ending is asking her to move in, or asking for or demonstrating commitment. For a romance, it can also be the engagement party where they announce as a couple to their friends and family. It is NOT the epilogue — years later. It is the most immediate reward for achieving the story goal. For an adventure, it is setting out new roles and new responsibilities in light of what has been achieved. The hero becomes a mentor to someone else or assumes a formal leadership role.
This brings me back to the Star Wars example from yesterday. Here’s that movie’s ending scene: quite literally a celebration – but Luke’s personal goal is definitively achieved and celebrated:
After the battle wounds have been tended and their dead buried, the Rebel troops can finally celebrate their victory over the Empire. The Princess presides over an awards ceremony. Luke’s story goal was to join the Rebellion and fight the Empire. His journey has finally come to this moment: becoming a decorated leader of the Rebellion.
Note: The fact that we know Darth Vader survived the Death Star’s destruction means there’s more plot potential for the series. But it is a “teaser” for Empire Strikes Back, not an essential element to the plot of Star Wars: Episode IV, so it doesn’t need to be resolved here. They save the “the Empire has regrouped” for the opening scene of ESB – it is the beginning of that story’s plot.
Planning an Ending
So for your planning process, decide how your characters will celebrate their achievement with others. The introspection is over, the growth has happened, the victory is won. Now they can enjoy it and look forward to a new path in the future.
Set up your heading – Ending – and jot down those ideas. You can have multiple ideas. One will seem most natural as you reach the end of your draft writing, so having several ideas to choose from is fine.
So there, you’ve got your plot. Now you need an appropriate setting for all this stuff to take place. Some ideas have probably already occurred to you. Tomorrow’s post will tell you how to narrow it to specifics and include the details in your plans.
See you then!