From Fiction University: We're aware of the recent commenting issues and are working to resolve them. We apologize for any inconvenience and annoyance this has caused. Hopefully we'll have it fixed soon, and we appreciate your patience while we get this straightened out. ETA: Enabling third party cookies on your browser could help if you have trouble leaving a comment.

Sunday, October 29

Day Twenty-Nine: Idea to Novel Workshop: The Wrap Up

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Welcome to Day Twenty-Nine of Fiction University’s At-Home Workshop: Idea to Novel in 31 Days. For the rest of the month, we’ll focus on plot and the major turning points of a novel.

Today, we’re, looking at how to close out your novel.

The Wrap-Up


The wrap up is the happily ever after, or the burning apocalypse—what the protagonist is going to do now that he’s resolved his problem. If there’s a moral or lesson the protagonist was supposed to learn in the story, this is a good spot to sum it up.

Why the wrap-up is important: It allows a sense of closure for characters and readers, and allows the resolution of any important details or subplots that weren’t critical in the climax.

Key Elements of the Wrap-Up
  • The protagonist is happy or satisfied in his new life
  • A sense of things resolved
  • A hint at where the characters will go from here

It’s not uncommon for the closing scene to mirror the opening scene as a way to show how the character has changed. If the protagonist was a selfish person, the final scene shows him being generous. If the opening shows him being scared of commitment, the wrap-up might have him getting married or making a commitment. It might even be a darker, more disturbing scene if the novel was about a fall from grace or the descent into darkness.

For series writers: If you’re writing a series, there might be plot elements or questions left hanging, and things might not wrap up quite so neatly. This type of wrap-up is often tricky, as you want to leave readers with a satisfying ending, yet still entice them to pick up the next book.

It might sound like a good idea to craft a cliffhanger ending with the protagonist in dire straits, but if the book just stops, you risk annoying readers. They spent an entire book waiting to see how a problem you posed to them is going to turn out, then you cheat by having the book end before that happens. That’s like turning off a movie fifteen minutes before it’s over.

There’s nothing wrong with a series ending that has loose ends, but try to resolve whatever promises you made to readers.

In essence, the final scene says, “Yes, there was a point to this novel and here it is.” It gives readers a sense of closure and reassurance that the novel was worth their time.

Here are some things to consider while developing your novel’s wrap-up:

1. What events might come after the climax?

2. What final image might mirror the opening image?

3. Where do you want your protagonist to be at the end of the novel?

4. What mood or emotion do you want to leave readers with?

5. What do you want readers thinking about after they’ve finished the book?

6. If it’s a series, what hints or questions do you want to dangle for the next book?

EXERCISE: Describe how and where the protagonist ends the novel.


Be as detailed or as vague as you’d like. Consider what image you want to leave readers with at the end of your novel.

If you’re not sure how much to write, aim for one to two paragraphs that show the change and where the protagonist is (physically and emotionally) at the end of the novel. Think about where he started out and how this final image works with that opening image.

Those following along with the PYN book: Workshop Ten goes into more depth on the individual turning points of story structure, as well and the basics of scene and sequel structure. It also shares tips on plotting and story development.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at writing your working synopsis.

Follow along at home with the book, Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure. Get more brainstorming questions and things to think about, in-depth articles, and clear examples of every step from idea to novel.

Paperback: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound  | Google Books | Books-A-Million | Chapters/!ndio

Ebook: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Overdrive | Kobo | Inktera | Chapters/!ndio

A long-time fantasy reader, Janice Hardy always wondered about the darker side of healing. For her fantasy trilogy The Healing Wars, she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. Her novels include The Shifter, Blue Fire, and Darkfall from Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins. The Shifter, was chosen for the 2014 list of "Ten Books All Young Georgians Should Read" from the Georgia Center for the Book. It was also shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize, and The Truman Award in 2011.

Janice is also the founder of Fiction University, a site dedicated to helping writers improve their craft. Her popular Foundations of Fiction series includes Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure, a self-guided workshop for planning or revising a novel, the companion Planning Your Novel Workbook, Revising Your Novel: First Draft to Finished Draft, your step-by-step guide to revising a novel, and her Skill Builders Series, Understanding Show Don't Tell (And Really Getting It), and Understanding Conflict (And What It Really Means).   
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Indie Bound

No comments:

Post a Comment