How-to Tuesday

Impactful Endings, Part 5: It’s All a Mystery

Each week, we update our current how-to series entitled, “Impactful Endings: How to End Your Story With a Bang!” This series is about experimenting with different story endings to ensure your conclusion is satisfying to you and leaves an impact on your readers. Our fifth post will be about how to leave your reader with a mysterious ending.

It’s All a Mystery

Mystery stories happen to be some of the most compelling stories. Just what makes them so great? One of the best parts of a mystery is solving the crime alongside the detective, piecing all the clues together and uncovering the big surprise at the end!

In some stories, however, the ending is left unresolved—a mystery. How can this be satisfying to a reader or an author? Well, that’s where the power of creative comes in.

Stories often have predictable endings where the bad guy gets defeated, the hero gets the girl, and they live happily ever after. However, the power of creativity combined with your power as an author allows you to end your story however you’d like! Sometimes, the bad guy might actually get away, while the girl decides to run off with another hero, or perhaps you’d rather leave your reader wondering what happens.

Just because you may choose this unconventional ending doesn’t mean your story won’t be interesting. There tends to be something intriguing about a mystery, even if it never gets solved!

Here are some things to consider when formulating your mystery ending:

  1. What is your purpose in leaving the ending unresolved? Think about what effect you want to have on your reader.
  2. How will your compensate for your unresolved ending? Consider how you may build a solid plot with solid characters.
  3. Will this ending make your story more interesting? How?

Of course, it is quite common to start a story and not have time to finish. This allows for the all-too-familiar line, “To be continued…” Sometimes it is easy to use that “TBC” line to quickly finish off a story, however a well-planned mystery ending is often more effective. Even if you might think your ending is unresolved, even if you briefly think through it, it is likely to show through in the quality of your writing.

Though you might feel like an unresolved ending makes the story less interesting and less satisfying, sometimes a mystery makes for a much more intriguing ending compared to if you were to piece together a last-minute conclusion. Mysterious endings give the reader the opportunity to ponder how they might personally imagine the story to end. Then they might come up with their own meaning or significance for the story, which makes your story seem that much more compelling! Just trust your own creative instinct when coming up with your mystery ending. Stick to your guns and you will have a uniquely engaging story.

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