Now that you’ve written a gripping first line and set the mood, it’s time to wrap up your suspense story. Here’s how to write an epic ending.
Hello suspense writers! Some writers think that one of the hardest things about narrative writing is closing our stories. Today I want to give you a few different ways you can end your suspense stories. It is so easy to simply shout, “That’s it! I am done!” without truly being finished.
How many times have you ended a story and your character wakes up because it was all a dream? No! Please don’t do that! As suspense writers we want to leave our reader feeling satisfied, and maybe even looking for more stories from us.
If you take a look at some of your favorite authors, you will see some amazing endings to narrative writing. Read the chilling last lines of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, The Tell-Tale Heart:
Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God! —no, no! They heard! —they suspected! —they knew! —they were making a mockery of my horror!-this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! and now —again! —hark! louder! louder! louder! louder! “Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed! —tear up the planks! here, here! —It is the beating of his hideous heart!”
Here are some strategies for building a better ending, with examples we’ve written to demonstrate.
End with dialogue.
End with a character speaking to himself or another character, or simply thinking out loud.
“Did you miss me? Oh, I have missed you. Now I will be with you forever, maybe not in body but definitely in spirit. Hahahahaha…”
Connect the beginning to the ending.
By connecting the beginning of the story to the ending, you bring your reader full circle. This gives your reader a feeling of “ahhhh” at the end of a story.
Beginning – You can steal someone’s identity by stealing their tongue. You see, every human has an unique tongue print. No two are alike.
Ending – In my life, I have been able to impersonate more people than you will ever imagine. Tongue prints come in handy, as long as you don’t get caught stealing them.
End with a description of the setting.
Create a picture of the final scene in the reader’s mind.
As I walked out the door, the rancid smell of death stayed with me. The overcast sky loomed above as I made my way down the dusty road plotting my next move. And all throughout my journey, my enemy continued to watch me; however, he had no clue that I was aware of his presence, and in an instant things would certainly change, and he would become my next victim.
When you’re a filmmaker, setting the mood is pretty easy; all you need is a little bit of scary music to terrify your viewers! But when you’re a writer, you must use the most precise words to convey that same feeling of impending doom.
Take a look at how Avi—a master writer and one of our favorite mentor authors—sets a mysterious, eerie mood at the beginning of his medieval fantasy novel, The Book Without Words:
“It was in the year 1406, on a cold winter’s night, when a fog, thick as wool and dank as a dead man’s hand, crept up from the River Scrogg into the ancient town of Fulworth. The fog settled like an icy shroud over the town, filling the mud-clogged streets and crooked lanes from Westgate to Bishopsgate, from Three Rats Quay upon the decaying riverbanks to Saint Osyth’s Cathedral by the city center. It heightened the stench of rotten hay and offal, of vinegary wine and rancid ale. It muffled the sound of pealing church bells calling the weary faithful to apprehensive prayers. In a neglected corner of town, at the bottom of Clutterbuck Lane, with its grimy courtyard and noxious well, against the town’s walls, stood a dilapidated two-story stone house. The first-level windows were blocked up with stone. A single second-floor window was curtained.”
Avi never tells his readers that this place has an ominous atmosphere, but we certainly feel it. Let’s dissect the different strategies he used to convey the mood in his paragraph of description.
Avi uses two similes to describe the fog. It is not just a simple morning fog that clouds up the streets for a few minutes in the morning! It’s a fog that is blanketing the village in a not-so-pleasant way. Reading the words “dead man’s hand” in the first sentence of the novel immediately jars the reader.
“… a fog, thick as wool and dank as a dead man’s hand…”
“…fog settled like an icy shroud.”
Carefully chosen adjectives turn run-of-the-mill, innocuous items like streets, courtyards, and wells into the picture of gloom and doom.
crumbling city walls
dilapidated two-story stone house
Although Avi only describes the setting in this opening paragraph (we have yet to meet any characters), verbs make the village move, which only adds to its mystery!
“…crept up from the River Scrogg…”
“It heightened the stench of rotten hay and offal.”
“It muffled the sound…”
Focus on what makes the setting unique by touching on the five senses.
Sight: “The first-level windows were blocked up with stone.”
Smell & Taste: “…the stench of rotten hay and offal, of vinegary wine and rancid ale.”
Touch: “cold winter’s night”
Sound: “the sound of pealing church bells”
Naming places in your story can be a lot of fun. The words “rats,” “clutter” and the sound of the word “Scrogg” have a certain connotation that gives the reader a sense of what this place might be like.
Three Rats Quay
Now examine a paragraph of setting description that you’ve used in your story and try using these strategies to help you set the mood!
for the make-up geometry test tomorrow
And sOMe peoPLe sTill OWE mE a fINal narrATIVE
Math – decimals practice
Language – final draft of your narrative due Monday
Science – deadlines are closer that you think
…make-up test next Tuesday.