Q & A: How to Finish a Story

Samantha says: Hi. I’m not exactly a teenager yet. I’m 12 and I’ve been writing a bunch of stories. Well the problem is every time I get really far into a story, I don’t know how to finish it. Sometimes my chapters are too short also. And when I try to come up with a new idea, I can’t come up with one. Can you please give me some tips or some websites that can help me?

As to how to finish a story, you simply need to resolve your main character’s goal. Every story needs to be about a character chasing after some goal. Maybe they are trying to win a cross country race. Maybe they are trying to solve a mystery. Maybe they are running from a killer. As long as the main character is doing something for a reason. The whole story is to take the main character on the journey of trying to achieve said goal. Then, at the end, they achieve it or they don’t. End of story.

I like to come up with five sentences to help me. To give me a guideline of what to write next. I learned this from Randy Ingermanson, who is a genius. Randy wrote the book Writing Fiction for Dummies. Randy also has a wonderful writing website here: http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/

Here is Randy’s advice to give you an outline to write your story by:

  1. Who my main character is and how the story opens. Introduction.
  2. The disaster at the end of act one.
  3. The disaster at the end of act two.
  4. The disaster at the end of act three.
  5. How the story is resolved.

For example:

1. Harry Potter learns that he comes from a wizarding family and begins school at Hogwarts. (Introduction to the story)

2. There he learns that Professor Snape hates him for no good reason. (First major story crisis)

3. After Harry and his friends discover that a giant dog is guarding the way to the Sorcerer’s Stone in a dungeon, they are nearly killed by a troll–set loose, apparently by Professor Snape. (Second major crisis)

4. When they learn that Hagrid gave away the secret of the giant dog to a stranger in exchange for a dragon, they realize that Snape can now reach the Sorcerer’s Stone. (Third major crisis)

5. With Dumbledore gone to London, Harry and his friends do their best to stop Snape–and find a wicked surprise. (Climax and end)

As for how to come up with new ideas, read this post called Planning a Novel? Where to Start. I bet it will give you some good ideas on how to brainstorm.

Hope that helps. 🙂


2 Responses to “Q & A: How to Finish a Story”

  1. kathleen says:

    hi we have to write a short story for school i only have 2 1/2 weeks and 2000 words I have my idea a termainaly ill kid and the last year of her life…its ment to show how you can be a hero without a trumpet and that stuff… the problem is i have the beginning the diagnosis and the first complication- not telling the friends until one year later and the ending after the funneral the letters under the bed to her mum and friends…and the letter to the mum is shown. but I’m not sure how to put the middle bits in that is between being admitted into hospital and told she has 6 months to live and her dying what do I do?
    signed stressed!

    • novelteen says:

      Aw, Kathleen/Stressed. I’m very sorry I haven’t been able to reply to comments in a speedy manner lately. Life is crazy busy and I am way, way behind. How did your story assignment turn out? Were you able to come up with an interesting middle? I hope so.



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