Openings and endings

Openings

There are many different ways in which you can open a story. You could use:

  • dialogue between characters
  • description of a situation
  • reflection on an event

But whatever the opening, it must make the reader want to read on and get into the story.

You should use your opening to introduce your character, or characters, and the setting. You can then move on to creating the event which will happen to your character or characters in that setting, as well as helping to form the plot.

Endings

Endings can be difficult. They have to strike a balance between giving us a sense that the story is complete and avoiding the temptation to tie up all the loose ends in the main character's life. Imagine an ending to a story that read, Jimmy left the area and became a mechanic then got married and had six children but he never forgot the lesson he learned when he was ten years old, and he never stole again.

While some short stories finish with a 'twist-in-the-tale', do not feel that you have to use this type of ending. These are often quite difficult to write effectively. It is also wise to avoid an ending like I woke up and it was all a dream because this is very clichéd.

Writing questions

The following are some questions you can think about in relation to your story.

  • Do your characters seem realistic?
  • Are the main events in the plot relevant to the character’s life?
  • Does the story hang together well?
  • Is there a balance of dialogue and description?
  • Does it feel as if it is set in a real place?
  • Are the opening and the ending effective?