Story Endings


How do you know when to end your story? With poetry, I seem to know. With my short stories, it’s a whole different game. Ask my editor, Scott Morgan of Write Hook. When I write a short story or piece of flash fiction, I like to ‘drop in’ on the story and then ‘drop out.’ It’s my style. It’s my way. My way seems to leave my endings a bit too abrupt. With the following poem, although it’s short, it felt done to me. I had nothing else to say that would add to what I’d already said. So, how about you? How do you know when you’ve reached the end of something you’re working on? Please share your pearls of wisdom.



Deepening that path rarely trod,

Fairly certain transgressions were never



We place our heads upon the grassy knoll,

Our fortunes unknown to us,

By day we speak in whispers,

By night we define the silence


Complacence shadows the ambivalent,

Quiet and graceful he stalks

Until he secures his place;


The faithful are few, go

Make your discoveries


(Image courtesy of Microsoft ClipArt)

22 responses »

  1. I don’t know much about how flash comes into being, but I would think you would want a solid conclusion. I myself learned that from bukowski – making it stick on the mat to make that piece elude to that ending. in your piece that beginning is absolutely splendid. every writer finds that rarely travelled after getting bit by the culture. the next to last stanza definitely muse sticking its nose in – always love that angle. i’d say your ending is exactly what you want:)) you will have to take a look at my latest as its a pull from 38 special – second chance as you might want to listen to it first before seeing the piece. have them both on facebook if you care to listen and gander at the piece. I think you will feel and like it.

      • glad ya like. it has a little inspiration from that certain one. I had just got done with your comment when I noticed you liked mine. and uhhmmm. I’ve been listening steadily to it for quite some time. I can’t believe I had never heard it but know a lot of their stuff.

    • See, I knew you were in league with the greats – that’s what Margaret Mitchell did with “Gone With the Wind.” I may try that. I don’t always know where my story is taking me and I sort of enjoy that but then again, I would like to be more confident with the endings… thanks for sharing! Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving – I’m planning on digging into leftovers here shortly.

      • I’m in a league of something, that’s for sure, but I doubt it’s with the greats. 🙂

        Having a great holiday with family in Colorado. Lovely area. Hope yours is good too.

  2. I tend to jump in too quick with beginnings (which Scott can also verify 🙂 – and he saw it AFTER I added to it) – but ending just seem to happen. All tied up, but not too tightly – have to let the reader, who’s been trusting you with their imagination all along, answer some questions on their own. Short or flash is different though, you have very little time for back story, so jumping in and out seems the way to go. As long as it makes for a complete tale.

  3. I usually have a spine of some kind when I do a story of some kind, so I know where I am heading. I might not know all the specifics, but I tend to know how I want it concluded, or where it should go emotionally.

    Nice ending to this piece.

    • I like the way you said you know where the story is going emotionally. I get that. I don’t necessarily know where my stories will end or how, though – obviously a weakness I need to work on.

  4. I think you hit the key point above – when you say what you need to say and the next line seems redundant. Some people just write poems to show off that they know a whole bunch of words, not realizing that words are the things that matter the least in poems. Those kind if poems either never really end or ended way before the last word.

  5. Pingback: Review of a Short Story-The Carved Door | Much Ado About Reviews

  6. I love the drop in but try very hard for one of two things: A) A recognizable closure or transition, or B) End on a cliff’s edge for the next scene. I will say that I would call my transitions more ‘points of natural pause.’

  7. Often I have an idea on where something is to end, and I just forge out to get there. Poems are a little different as if they are restricted by form, some layout beforehand is helpful. I’ve got an idea for one I’ll post, but the form is so straight jacket I don’t know if I’ll manage without going nuts first. (one of my own making) I figure if I can get one of them out, others will be likely easier.

    I suppose another way is to start with one’s cast and let them wind their natural paths to conclusion.

      • It will drive me nuts when I set myself hard at it..just framework so far..sort of like the work involved in a sestina but multiplied…you’ll likely see it posted..though not soon.

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