Need help submitting your writing to literary journals or book publishers/literary agents? Click here! →

Category Archives: Creative Writing Craft and Techniques

9 Ideas For Short Story Endings: How To Get From Here To There | Writer’s Relief

Sometimes, writing a short story can be like going for a drive with no map: You have a solid starting point, but then the highway has multiple exits. Which direction will get you where you need to go? Time to whip out your virtual writing GPS and ask the Writer’s Relief experts for the best route to a great ending for your short story— you might see your narrative journey with new eyes!

How To Write A Great Ending For A Short Story

Indicate character change through action. If the arc of your story traces the evolution of your character’s emotional change, ending your story with a distinct choice or action can be a great show-don’t-tell way to imply development. Bonus points if your character’s decision/action is not one that he or she could have made at the beginning of your story.

Show character stasis through inaction. Taking action or making a decision can demonstrate a character’s dramatic change, so failure to take action (or to make a new kind of decision) may indicate that your character has not grown as a person in spite of opportunities to do so.

Kill someone. In some ways, death can be the ultimate ending of a short story. But keep in mind that if your story ends with a death, readers might feel exploited if that death has no thematic resonance with everything that came before.

Welcome baby. Births are dramatic events. If the themes and explorations of your story are in line with concepts of expectation and birth, then a big, high-tension labor and delivery scene might make for a memorable closure of your tale. Of course, “quiet” births can also be emotionally engaging.

Do the twist. It’s not easy to write a twist ending. But well-crafted surprise endings are not soon forgotten. Learn more about how to write a story with a twist ending.

Leave the unanswered questions unanswered. Sometimes, you may not want to tie up your story’s loose ends in a traditional dénouement. If your interest in exploring a particular theme is less about answers and more about the journey, there may not be a need to embrace a traditional ending at all.

Submit to Review Board

Come on, get happy. In the world of literary fiction, straightforward happy endings are a rare phenomenon. But if your short story lends itself to a good happily ever after, then by all means enjoy riding off into the sunset of your narrative.

Be a story mad scientist. One of the best things about being a writer is the challenge of inventing new ways to tell stories. Who says you have to do what’s expected? Your straightforward short story about a father contemplating the passing of time could turn into a wild alien invasion adventure. Or, your modern homemaker could be rescued from the drudgery of vacuuming by a deus ex machina. Have fun, take risks, and invite readers to come along for the ride.

Go meta. Metafiction is difficult to define, but essentially it is a type of fiction that flaunts the author’s (or narrator’s) self-awareness of literary style and construction. Your short story might start out as traditional fiction, but who says it has to end that way? Your ending can draw your readers’ attention to the deliberate literary craft of your work as well as your intentions as an author—making your point by pointing to the fact that you’re making it.

What About Flash Fiction?

Flash fiction and slice-of-life vignettes don’t always require the traditional elements of narrative closure that are common to short stories. Readers who appreciate flash fiction and slice-of-life sketches are often expecting a quick peek into a new world—as opposed to a full exploration of it. Check out our best tips for crafting slice-of-life vignettes.


Question: Which of the ending types above do you encounter most often in short stories (your own or stories written by others)?

3-Word Writing Prompts: A Great Way To Break Through Writer’s Block | Writer’s Relief

Writer’s block can stifle your creativity in more than one way. Sometimes, you reach a point in your writing where you feel stuck—you simply can’t figure out what happens next or how to end a story or poem. Other times, you’ve finished the piece you’ve been working on and can’t think of something new to… Continue Reading

Writers: Plays To Read To Improve Your Story’s Dialogue | Writer’s Relief

Dialogue is one of the most important elements of your short story or novel. Believable dialogue will make your characters  three-dimensional, relatable, and real. At Writer’s Relief, we know readers want to  identify with your characters or to recognize the realistic people you’re creating—whether they love them or hate them! For a playwright, effective dialogue… Continue Reading

Dos And Don’ts Of Taking Feedback On Your Creative Writing | Writer’s Relief

Every writer knows the importance of getting feedback on your work—but it’s also a complicated matter. On the one hand, if a critique partner misunderstands or misconstrues, the resulting critique can be devastating. On the other hand, if a reader adores what you’ve written, it can be easy to lapse into complacency. Even a spot-on… Continue Reading

15 Exercises To Strengthen Your Writing | Writer’s Relief

There are lots of motivated folks whose New Year’s resolutions include exercising regularly and getting into tiptop shape. And Writer’s Relief knows that, for writers, there are many benefits to exercises that strengthen our craft (rather than our muscles). You don’t even have to break a sweat—but feel free to grab a water bottle or… Continue Reading

Sign me up for
FREE Publishing Leads & Tips
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

WHY? Because our insider
know-how has helped
writers get over 18,000+ acceptances.

FREE Publishing Leads and Tips! Our e-publication, Submit Write Now!, delivered weekly to your inbox.
  • BEST (and proven) submission tips
  • Hot publishing leads
  • Calls to submit
  • Contest alerts
  • Notification of industry changes
  • And much more!
Live Chat Software