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8 Common Novel Endings
Episode 3818th October 2022 • Writing Break • America's Editor
00:00:00 00:12:45

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Authors often wonder how to end a novel. We'll review the 8 most common ways to end a story.

Music licensed from Storyblocks:

“More Jam Please” by Raighes Factory

“Gazing Out of a Cafe Window on a Rainy Day” by Tencher Music

“Autumn Leaves” by Simon Sharp

“The Wonder Years” by Humans Win

“Fancy and Friendly” by Jon Presstone

“Beautiful Way to End” by Neil Cross


Rosemi Mederos:

If you have plot bunnies coming out of your plot holes, it’s time for a writing break.

We are back in the States so that we can chase the changing leaves from north to south, something that has been on my bucket list for far too long. We’ll also be talking about how to wrap up your novel and give time for your readers to say goodbye to your beloved characters.

The Writing Break cafe is open, so let’s grab a table and I’ll fill you in on some publishing news.

Kris Kashtanova, a New York-based artist, has received US copyright registration on their graphic novel, Zarya of the Dawn, which has AI-generated artwork created by latent diffusion. Kashtanova argued that the graphic novel was AI-assisted rather than fully AI-generated. While the artwork was AI-generated, Kashtanova wrote the story, created the layout, and made artistic choices as to what images to use and how to piece them together. This US copyright registration might not be the first of its kind, but it is the first I’ve heard of that has been successful.

Keri at New Shelves Books says that authors have contacted her this month regarding problems with Kindle Direct Publishing, including wrongfully terminated accounts, increased retail prices without increased royalties, and sales not tracking. If you publish through KDP, you might want to check on your account.

It seems some people will do anything to get on The New York Times best seller list. Among them are Mike Allen, Roy Schwartz, and Jim VandeHei, the clout-chasing co-founders of the start-up tabloid Axios and authors of Smart Brevity.

It seems Axios sent a company-wide memo encouraging employees to buy six copies each of Smart Brevity. Axios said they would reimburse employees for the cost of the books. Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater.

Links to these articles can be found in the show notes of this episode and on Now, let’s move to the Overthinking Couch for an explanation of the New York Times dagger.

So, why did Axios ask their employees to buy six copies of Smart Brevity? Publishing insiders see it as a way of avoiding the New York Times dagger.


When former Donald Trump executive Jack O’Donnell revealed that the Trump organization purchased tens of thousands of copies of The Art of the Deal and pressured executives to buy 4,000 or more copies when it was released in 1987, it helped bring the problem to the forefront, and soon after, the dagger began appearing next to books on the list that benefitted from bulk purchases.

By asking employees to buy only 6 copies, Axios might avoid getting the dagger next to Smart Brevity.

In my opinion, making the New York Times bestseller list should not be your end game. It’s not the accomplishment it’s made out to be anymore, and maybe it never was.

And now, we’re taking a trip to one of the largest independent bookstores in the USA.

Welcome to The Book Loft of German Village in Columbus, Ohio. The Book Loft has 32 rooms of books. That’s right, 32 rooms! The red-brick building is a block long and was once divided into several buildings built before the US Civil War. Those buildings once housed a general store, a saloon, and a nickelodeon cinema.

If you don’t know, nickelodeon cinemas were movie theaters that had an admission fee of five cents.

Two former teachers opened The Book Loft in one of these buildings, and over time expanded into neighboring stores, connecting the stores via narrow passageways and staircases.

With anywhere from 500,000 to one million books in stock throughout the year, walking through The Book Loft is a bit like exploring a labyrinth, and it’s possible you’ll hit a dead end once or twice.

To help you find your way around the 7,500 square feet of books, the store provides maps, but where’s the fun in that?

Although the bookshop is a rambling, expansive store, it feels like home as soon as you approach it. I once visited The Book Loft while it was covered in snow, and it was that much more special to be stepping inside, out of the cold.

Now that we’re here, let’s check out an independent author.

nda Kroll is about mediums in:

Belinda Kroll (that’s a pen name, by the way) is based in Ohio. In addition to her fiction, she is the founder and owner of Bright Bird Press, which releases bullet journal-inspired stationery for creatives and caregivers. She has some great bullet journals for novelists, regardless of whether you’re a planner, a pantser, or a NaNoWriMo participant. Check the show notes for the links to the bullet journals as well as the Hesitant Mediums series.

Now, let’s find a bench in the garden pathway where we can discuss today’s writing tips.

Oh my gosh, we’re at the end of your novel, aren’t we? It’s time to wrap up Act 3. We made a Plan, there was a Climax, and now we’re at the Ending.

The Ending is a cooling off period for your readers, so if your book was intense, you’re going to want to take your time here. These are your last few moments with your audience. Do not get sloppy or lazy or silly. Keep it in tune with the rest of your masterpiece.

You can end in several ways. Here are the eight most common endings:

Circular ending: This is where everything returns to normal but with a contrast.

Reversed ending: Things have gone from bad to good, emotionally, physically, or both.

Bittersweet ending: There might be unexpected casualties, things might have ended worse for the antagonist than anticipated, and maybe the protagonist didn’t get everything they wanted.

Open ending: You could have the dreaded open ending where the reader walks away unsure about the future of your characters. This is a tricky one that might upset your readers, so tread carefully, and perhaps give a few clues about what is in store for the characters your audience spent so much time getting to know.

Cliffhanger: A cliffhanger is possible if you’re writing a series, but the story should still have some resolution. You can’t leave everything up in the air or your readers will seek revenge in the way of one-star reviews.

Twist: You could have a twist in the ending where something unexpected happens, particularly if the twist leads to good results. Avoid making it too sweet or improbable, though. That’s a personal request.

Revelation: Satisfying revelations, that is, satisfying to the readers, are welcome in the Ending.

Monologue: Some authors end with a monologue. That’s not my favorite because I think everything should have been said already, and ending with a monologue can feel like spoon-feeding your audience or doubting your audience’s ability to understand the book’s message. But there are authors who do it and readers who are okay with it.

And now, one last time, let’s plan it out.

Write a single sentence that describes the Ending, then make a list of the scenes needed to get through the writing of the Ending, writing just enough words to remember what each scene is about.

After you’ve done that, believe it or not, you’re ready to write your scenes. We’ll talk about how to do that next week, and then you’ll be ready to start writing, just in time for National Novel Writing Month. It’s almost like I planned it that way.

Until next week, thanks for listening. You deserved this break.

If you would like us to visit your favorite independent bookstore, feature your favorite independent author (even if it’s you), or discuss something you’re overthinking about, please email me at

Thank you for making space in your mind for The Muse today.

Writing Break is hosted by America’s Editor and produced by Allon Media with technical direction by Gus Aviles. Visit us at or contact us at




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