How To End a Short Story the Perfect Way

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This sounds crazy from a writer’s perspective: The short story ending is more important than the in-betweens of your story. Why – you ask? Think about it. A short story, unlike a book, is all about making an impression on the reader. Here are 11 ways on how to end a short story.

A novel sucks you into its life and lets you relive it. It can have a message – but it could be a story of someone. A short story is structured to deliver a message to the reader. It provides a ground for discussion. Here, the end of the short story plays its role. Better the ending, the stronger the impression. Simple as that.

How To End a Short Story

Here are some ways that I have compiled to end a story.

1. Keep It Simple

The easiest way to end a story is to keep it subtle even at its end. The readers expect it to come along but it should also bring a smile to their faces. Take the simplest children’s story for example – The Hare and The Tortoise. When the hare sleeps and the tortoise walks past it, we already have the message of the story. Yet we continue to read for our satisfaction. These are for simple and sweet ends.

Folk tales aside, when you’re looking forward to flaunting your creativity and making some twists, that’s great too!

Check out this article for plot twist ideas: 7 Insane Plot Twist Ideas For Your Story

2. End With That Moral Line

Speaking of that Hare and Tortoise story, ending with a moral is one way to go. Afraid that morals make your story seem childish? Don’t be! Stories with morals are still read by adults – and they love them! Heck, my dad read zen stories with large morals long after I was born.

Moreover, some short stories are just more difficult to understand than others. The moral lines at the end help make its message clear.

Read the complete guide on How To Write a Short Story step by step.

3. Make It Dramatic

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No, not a twist, dramatic! Pull your reader towards the lead character’s emotions. Make one final moment in the story that makes up for the entirety. Take the play A Sunny Morning: A Comedy of Madrid for example. the comedy-drama simply ends with Don Gonzalo picking up the violets from the ground. The simple act of picking up flowers made up for ending the story in a wholesome realization.

These are simple elements that when added with a smooth touch, make the story a masterpiece.

To those going full-on about crafting short stories, consider taking up an online course, it’s worth it. Besides, they aren’t pricey. Here are some courses with great ratings that I handpicked for you from Udemy:

  1. The Basics of Writing a Compelling Short Story
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  2. Writing Short Stories: The Essential Guide

4. Don’t Give Away Too Much

Your readers are still reading that short story of yours because they understand. Or better yet, they will relate. You do not need to explain everything to them – they will understand. When I began to write, that’s where I went wrong. Overexplaining.

I misjudged the readers’ introspection. So make the best of your story by leaving it unfinished. Give a tiny hint of what follows and end it right there.

5. Go For a Happy Ending!

People still love happy endings.  And they need them now more than ever. What’s more – happy endings are rare when it comes to short stories. So make a difference and let your characters run to the rooftop and scream on top of their lungs, “We did it!” or even a simple smile on their faces.

6. Let It Keep Going

Let your protagonist go on with his or her life in the story. With the events of the story, they have changed but life goes on in reality. Keeping the story running at its end brings a realistic effect to it.

Here’s an instance: The story begins with the protagonist’s everyday house chores. Something out of the blue happens to lead to a series of events. The protagonist changes. But he still ends by doing his laundry.

7. Go Dark

Say your short story is all suspense or horror, this goes well. By going dark, it could be to reveal the true traits of your characters. When it is a crime story where the protagonist tries to find who the killer is, it could end with the protagonist being the killer himself – or someone who plays along in the story.

Or it could also end with killing someone. People love mind-boggling endings.

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8. Come Back To The Start

Another mind-boggling way to end a short story – or any story for that matter. Start the story with something that will linger in the readers’ minds. While ending the story, take it back to the start making a close making it satisfactory.

This isn’t a written story, but check out Circle Of Love by Rudy Mancuso on YouTube. That would be my favorite example of such a story.

9. Widen The Scope

Take a real-world example for your short story? Then you already know how to end it, but I’ll put this on the list anyway.  Take a step back from your characters and express the scenario in general.

Example: The protagonist is a female who begins to use a bicycle to take her to places. She is independent and has the freedom to travel on a bicycle. The ending is of how women of a particular place took up the cycling movement at some point in time.

This post is proofread with Grammarly – it’s a great tool to help out with simple spelling and grammar mistakes we all make. Check out Grammarly, it’s free to start with.

10. Create Your Unique Ending

Be creative! All the ways I listed above are some ways to end a story. If you’re looking out to be further unique, create your ending. Readers do not expect it, but they always want something fresh. It takes time, but it’s worth the effort.

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Moreover, there are types of short stories with different lengths, there could be an ending perfect just for your story.

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11. End The Story With a Cliffhanger

Ending a story with a cliffhanger is simply done by leaving the story alone when the reader expects more to happen. Its ending is whichever way the reader sees it.

I found this question on Quora about ending a story with a cliffhanger, I thought it was a pretty cool way for an ending. So I answered it from my perspective – check it out on Quora here.

Have any other sorts of ending for a short story? Comment below! I’m always up for a juicy conversation :)

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*This post contains affiliate link(s) where I earn a small commission from the purchases made at no additional cost of the products to you. I recommend products that I trust. 

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Manas Patil

Hi there! I'm a 22-year-old dude all the way from India, I love traveling and building itineraries! Sign up and get your FREE COPY of my travel checklist to get the best of your next vacation!

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