It can be difficult to tie up all your loose threads if you can’t remember them.
One way to keep these under control is to make lists to remind yourself of what’s left to do.
Another is to write your ending first, then work in your threads wherever they work best.
With this, you might need more than one pass to ensure everything flows right afterward, so it’s best to let it sit awhile before you reread it.
It can also be helpful to have someone else look at your work. They can notice things you might miss because you’re too close to it.
Sometimes a scene is not as clear to the reader as we think it is and having another set of eyes can point that out.
They also can tell you which subplots they found interesting and which didn’t seem to play an important part.
These can be places where material might need to be cut to make the story stronger.
You also want to build to a climax as you start wrapping up your subplots and get closer to the end.
As each one gets resolved, it should give a sense the end is just around the corner.
Some questions you might want to consider…
1. Which plot threads need to be resolved after the climax?
Readers like to get a taste of what the future might look like for the characters, so you should leave at least one thread to resolve at the end.
This could be a romance subplot or a lead into the next book—like hinting at the enemy’s next move.
2. Which threads will bring the end to a stronger climax if resolved beforehand?
Perhaps another character does something that will help the hero triumph over the enemy, and at the same time, resolves their own troubles.
3. Do things need to happen in a particular order?
Arranging your events from smallest to biggest can pace the climax and make your ending have a stronger impact on your readers.
4. Are there lower priority subplots that need to be wrapped up earlier in the story?
Sometimes you have minor subplots or character arcs that need wrapping up but aren’t critical to the plot.
These can be resolved earlier in the third act. But save your major character arcs and plotlines for the end to give the readers what they want.
5. Are there any surprise reveals?
These can be used to drive the story in spots that are slower near the climax and fill in the gaps in the pacing.
Outlining can help you pace your ending and keep the event order straight as each unfolds.
Think about your climax’s impact and how everything needs to come together for a powerful ending.
This is what the readers are looking for and keeps them coming back for more.
Even if you’re a pantser, knowing the direction your story is going beforehand can make all the difference.
How do you set up your ending?
FOR FURTHER READING
Renea strives to help writers develop the focus and skills they need to finish their first novel, offering writers practical writing advice they can apply one step at a time.
She is the author of Conquering Writing Pressures: Living a Balanced Writing Life in a Busy World where she helps writers find the courage to accept life will never be perfect. And if we want our dreams to succeed, we must fight to make them a reality.
She currently lives in St. Joseph, Missouri, with her husband Joe, her three children, and her five lovable furballs.
From a young age, Renea was mad for books and reading, and especially loved Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series, which she read in the ninth grade.
She is an avid reader, with her main interests residing in history, mythology, and fantasy, along with some romance and science fiction in her earlier years.
When Renea’s not writing, she enjoys genealogy, role-playing games, and dreams of traveling the world. In a past life, she plucked chickens and milked cows.