3 Types of Story Endings to Make Your Writing Memorable

March 4, 2019

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“All’s well that ends,” my writing professor used to joke about long stories. 

But if you want to leave a lasting impression on your audience, it’s important to not just know when to end your story — but how to end it engagingly and effectively.

For writers and journalists, this type of finishing note is called a kicker, which Poynter calls a “punchy or memorable ending that rewards the reader.”

Here are three kickers to try:

1. Close with a sound bite.

The most common type of kicker comes in the form of a quote from a subject matter expert.

However, these sound bites need a caveat. As anyone who’s ever interviewed a scientist or technically-minded individual knows, the words that tumble out of people’s mouths are sometimes full of jargon. So, make sure you’re using quotes for your kicker that are concrete, creative and provocative.

Here’s one that works, at the end of an Ingram’s Magazine story about a brilliant financial wizard whose personal wealth was run into the ground because he wasn’t good at explaining his pioneering ideas:

During Franklin’s heyday, Fleischer made a comment to a reporter that sounds prescient today.

“I’ve been a poor evangelist,” Fleischer said. “If Jesus had had my selling skills, there’d be no Christianity.”

2. Project into the future.

A look ahead is a great way to leave a lasting impression at the end of a story. So, spin the action forward or tell the reader what’s likely to happen next.

For chronological stories, such as case studies, projecting into the future may be more satisfying than lingering on any final moments.

For example, take this case study of Sprint’s TekNet, a tool that allows school systems to sync and streamline their communications technologies:

“Before TekNet, everything we had here was outdated,” Templeton says. “We were spending lots of time on administrative tasks we shouldn’t have been doing at all. As a result, we had too much downtime from focusing on our students.”

Now district officials are using TekNet to refocus that time on the work Newport does best: teaching their students.

3. Come full circle.

A final approach for writing a kicker is to come full circle back to the lead. This gives readers the sense that they’ve moved from the beginning to an end in a complete, satisfying manner.

Take this Strathcona County news release, which starts like so:

Florence Storch is a 101-year-old Alberta woman with a unique hobby and a lofty goal. A javelin thrower, Florence has her sights set on winning a gold medal at the 2014 Canada 55+ Games.

Its ending reads:

You can find sport schedules, cultural events and volunteer opportunities for the 2014 Canada 55+ Games by visiting our website or calling (780) 467-2211.

“Don’t let my age fool you,” Storch says. “I’m here to win!”

When it comes to deciding what kicker to use, it’s important to remember there are no clear right answers. Different writers may opt for different ending devices.

The only thing that matters is that it sticks in your audience’s head and feels, as Poynter says, like a “reward” for staying with your piece from the opening line to the closing note — a true full circle.

 

Copyright © 2019 Ann Wylie. All rights reserved.



Would you like to learn Ann’s full system for organizing compelling messages? If so, please join PRSA and Ann Wylie at Catch Your Readers — a two-day Master Class on April 10-11 in Charleston, S.C. PRSA members: Save $100 with coupon code PRSA19. APRs: Earn four maintenance points.

Ann Wylie

Ann Wylie (WylieComm.com) works with communicators who want to reach more readers and with organizations that want to get the word out. To learn more about her training, consulting or writing and editing services, contact her at ann@WylieComm.com.

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