We’ve opened the door on our potential story, but now we need to close it. This analogy is not meant to hold up to any real scrutiny, and that’s even less so when you realise what The Closer is about. Every story needs an ending, and yours needs one too. The trouble is you need more than one ending to be plausible if you intend to lead the reader into a round of just-one-more-page. This isn’t where you come up with your amazing twist, where the a-ha! moment comes and you realise that the evil king was the smelly beggar all along (or the reverse). You shouldn’t need a twist to cap off the story, though it can definitely add to any already good story.
You need to think about how your story could end. The lawyer could win their case, or she could lose it. She might change their mind through the course of it about wanting to win, or decide to take matters into her own hands. It could even be that the case was never important, but the prosecutor was trying to orchestrate a loss for some other reason. If you’ve got your ideal ending worked out, that’s great, but there should still be some mystery at this stage. Is the squire really going to reach the safety of the castle before sunset? Is it plausible he might not?
It’s not required to go to the whole “Choose Your Own Adventure” level of 31 possible endings, but why not a minimum of three? And why three? Because it’s a good outside-the-box number. Your one and two endings are simple, neat. The patient lives or dies, the planet is destroyed or spared, or the relationship thrives or fails. The third choice requires you go past that, and pull out something different. Again, it doesn’t need to be a twist at all, but something that’s plausible without being the obvious choice.
The Short Version:
You need to think of endings. Three. The first will tend toward ‘hero wins’, second, ‘villain wins’, and the third will do something new. You won’t use all three, and may not use any but the first. But each must be plausible.
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