Posted by: anitanolan | March 24, 2010

Ways to End A Scene (Writing in Scenes – Part III)

Every scene should end in a way that makes the reader want to continue reading.  This helps with pacing and makes the reader think “I couldn’t put it down.”

Here are a few good ways to end a scene:

  • Impending disaster
  • A mysterious line of dialogue
  • A secret suddenly revealed
  • A major decision or vow
  • Announcement of a shattering event
  • Reversal or surprise—new information that turns the story around
  • A question left hanging in the air.

Typically, you don’t want to end a scene or a chapter at a place that makes the reader want to stop reading.  A character going to sleep or happily contemplating some bit of good news are examples of sceneendings that might make the reader stop.

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Responses

  1. […] Writer Anita Nolan has been doing a series on writing in scenes, with part 1 on how to write with scenes, part 2 on the elements of a scene and part 3 on scene endings. […]

  2. I did this a lot with my last book, but my beta readers (and some agents that rejected me) said I didn’t complete the scenes. They felt like the scene just dropped off the edge of the world. How do you end in a cliffhanger, but still finish and resolve the scene?

    • Thanks for commenting Emily. I’m afraid without seeing the manuscript I can’t answer that question. However, I would think that perhaps you aren’t ending with a real cliffhanger that leaves the reader what’s going to happen next, or that you aren’t ending at the true point of it being a cliffhanger, but are perhaps trailing off a little. This is a common problem. A lot of writers will have a really good ending to their scene or chapter a sentence or paragraph or two prior to where they actually end, then they tack something on that actually weakens the ending. I can’t say for sure that either of those two things are your problem, but since a couple agents have commented on it, it seems you need to improve the ends of the scenes/chapters in some way.

      Have you considered dissecting a couple of books that are good at ending scenes on a high note to see how those authors do it successfully?

  3. […] Writer Anita Nolan has been doing a series on writing in scenes, with part 1 on how to write with scenes, part 2 on the elements of a scene and part 3 on scene endings. […]

  4. I’m so at a loss on how to end something right now. It’s been bothering me forever and I have no idea what to do with it. Thanks for the tips. I hope I can think of something soon because it’s really been getting to me.

  5. Exactly what I needed, when I needed it! Thank you!


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