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Aristotle's Incline Plotting in 3 Acts

Plotting a Novel in Three Acts: The Closing Scene

The closing scene of a novel has to work hard within the confines of time and space to tie up loose ends and put a nice finish on your story.  After a masterful climactic scene, the audience waits in anticipation for the final curtain to rise. This is dessert, if you will, following a fine supper, and your readers want to savor it. However, if dessert delays too long, they will lose their appetites for it.

Let’s take a look at how to deliver a sweet closing scene that won’t give your readers a toothache.

Plotting a Novel in 3 Acts: The Epiphany by Janalyn Voigt for Live Write Breathe

Plotting a Novel in Three Acts: The Closing Scene

Who to Include

If you can, try having the characters in your novel bow out in a similar fashion to the characters in a play, from least important to most important. However, unlike actors in a play, a book’s characters don’t all need to crowd the stage. Over the course of the book, your reader will have invested in certain characters, and these are the ones who should appear or be accounted for in the closing scene.

Complete Your Main Character’s Arc

Your protagonist has grown in a way that caused circumstances to shift for the better. Show this change in the closing scene. For example, if your main character needed to overcome her timidity, show her risking a new adventure. To avoid a pat ending, don’t smooth all of life’s rough edges but make it clear that now your protagonist can cope much better than before.

Tie Up Story Threads

Don’t leave your reader wondering if the hero’s best friend marries that woman he’s been pining over. What happens to the heroine’s little sister after they rescue her from kidnappers? Is the ancient artifact the main character fought to recover donated to a museum or returned to its rightful owner? These are the kinds of questions that, if left unanswered, can irritate readers and make them less inclined to read any other books you’ve written. Make sure you haven’t left any characters hanging. This is not to say you have to explain everything. If, for example, an organ grinder lost his monkey partway through the story, unless he’s more than a passing character, the reader won’t care whether a reunion occurred. Use  relevance to the reader as your guide and remember that less is usually more. When a writer goes into too much detail, a closing scene can drag on too long.

Decide on The Final Thought

Reference your book’s opening in some way, if possible, to end with a feeling of closure. You’ll want to consider your final sentence as carefully as you did your opening one. Open some of your favorite books and read the last lines as inspiration to help you get a feel for crafting your own.

Matching the overall tone of your book in your closing scene brings your story to a full-circle conclusion that will satisfy readers.

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Written by Janalyn Voigt

Janalyn Voigt

© Janalyn Voigt
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I’m Janalyn Voigt, an author, speaker, and former social media mentor. DawnSinger and Wayfarer, the first two books in my epic fantasy series, Tales of Faeraven, released with Pelican Book Group and will be followed by at least two more installments. I’m also working on a romantic suspense novel set in an Irish castle, but then historical fiction has a grip on me too. Being unabashedly multi-genre makes me into what some might term a reluctant rebel, but I prefer to think of myself as a storyteller.

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