Nine Ways to End a Short Story

by Tricia Chan Shan Min, Victoria Junior College

“Nine ways to end a short story”. Is there really only nine ways to end a short story? Of course not, but these are some helpful guidelines that short story writer, Marla Miniano gives. Guidelines that aspiring authors or writers in the room enthusiastically jot down for reference in their own writing.

Marla Miniano is an editor in Chief at Summit Books and her story proves to be an inspiration to aspiring writers. As a child, Ms Marla has dreamt about being a writer and she was able to make this dream into a reality after she had graduated from college. This story serves as a driving force for many as this showcases the ability of an individual to rise and establish themselves as a writer.

The audience readies their pens, waiting in anticipation for her first way.

“Metanoia: A change in heart”. Metanoia stems from a greek word ‘metanoein’ which means to have a change in mind. While at the surface level Ms Marla means the character themselves, if one should travel deeper into her words, she also refers to the writer themselves. She has expressed that as a writer, she wishes to change as a person as well through her stories. It may not in an extremely significant way, but a small change nonetheless is what she aims to achieve.

Second on her list is “Play with time: fast forward to the future or rewind to the past”. As writers, we have the power to mold time and play with its format. It in the hands of a writer, time no longer follows the laws of the universe it is dictated by the writer. Writers make the impossible, possible. Time could be made to be a character, with their own attitude and behaviours making the intangible, tangible.

If that’s not what you fancy, why not try “letting someone unexpected and new have the last word” or “allow silence to take over and make sense of things.”. Many do indeed believe that silence is golden and it allows for a moment of reflection. While it may be the easiest way to end a story, the silence must be meaningful and purposeful and thus breathe life into the story.

Thomas Paine once said, “The greater the conflict, the more glorious the triumph”. So why not “end the conflict in your story and make way for forgiveness and acceptance. Or don’t. Disrupt the peace and shake things up!”. The starting of brand new conflict at the end suggests the continuation of it for a long perhaps in another universe that we will never experience and be a part of.

Whoever said anything about the order of a book being linear? Why not “go full circle” as well and bring them to where it all began. The beginning. However, this way possess a challenge to novice writers as they must have the foresight to have the bigger picture mind before even beginning their story.

Or one can choose to be the camera for the readers and “zoom out and show the  bigger picture and then zoom back in”. This allows for the writer to control the perspective that the readers take and remind them of the big purpose to their ending

Finally number 9 is to leave “loose endings untied”. Closure is a luxury, one that sort stories writers may not afford to have. This generates a certain curiousity and more of the story and that’s how short stories should make you feel.

Wanting for more.