What Makes a Satisfying Chapter Book Ending
by Lee Wardlaw
- · If you introduced a problem at the beginning of your story (and you’d better have! Remember: Character + Conflict = Plot), it must be solved by the end of the story. Avoid dangling threads and endings left up to the reader’s imagination. Children need closure. They want to turn the last page of a book knowing that all is right with the world – even if only for that moment.
- · Your protagonist must always solve the story’s problem herself. A helicopter parent, doting aunt, or kindly teacher may not charge in to save the day. Your book is for children – so give them the power! It’s something they have little of in their day-to-day lives.
- · If the protagonist can’t solve her problem without the story coming off as phony or pretty-pink-perfect, she must at least learn how to deal with and accept the situation – and grow from it.
- · Your protagonist must change in some significant way by the end of the book. She should learn something about herself and/or the world around her; your readers will take those insights away with them, too.
- · Your ending must fit the story and your characters. Avoid out-of-left-field revelations, unbelievable villain turnarounds, and sappy, sentimental solutions.
- · Never, ever, use the story ending as an opportunity to whack your readers over the head with a moral sledgehammer. Yes, every book has a theme and take-home message – but those will be subtle and secondary to the entertainment value of the story.
- · Make certain that your characters always land in better places than they began. This gives your readers hope – and the knowledge that life is worth living.
- · End the story when it ends. As soon as the problem is solved or the situation accepted, your story is over. Tie loose ends quickly –and pat yourself on the back for a job well done!
Lee Wardlaw is the award-winning author of close to 30 books for children, tweens and teens, which have sold more than a million copies world-wide. Her latest novel, 101 WAYS TO BUG YOUR FRIENDS AND ENEMIES (Penguin, ages 10-14), is the recipient of the Forward National Literature Award for Humor and a California Collections Book. http://www.leewardlaw.com
Today's prize is "How to Write for Children and Get Published" by Louise Jordan. If you are already signed up for the challenge, all you have to do to be entered to win it is to leave a comment on this post no later than noon GMT on the 31st of March.