Thursday, 28 March 2013

Happily-Ever-Afters: What Makes a Satisfying Chapter Book Ending by Lee Wardlaw #ChaBooCha




Happily-Ever-Afters:
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.

22 comments:

  1. If you have another challenge, I'll join in!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dani - this challenge runs every year in the month of March. If you haven't already signed up (sign-ups carry over each year), you can sign up now for next year by going here: http://chapterbookchallenge.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/chapter-book-challenge-2013-sign-up.html

      I also recommend joining our Facebook group which is active year-round. You can find it here: http://www.facebook.com/groups/chapterbookchallenge

      Delete
  2. I just watched a video of Lee in my Picture Book Academy class with Mira Reisberg. Lee sure knows a lot about everything!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great reminders. When the story is over, it's over. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great reminders. When the story is over, it's over. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This was a great post! Thank you. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Awesome post! Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great tips on endings. I hope it's OK for the main character to talk to a grown up to get some ideas on how to solve their problem... I might need to work a bit more on my ending.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Doing some more work on my ending today, so this is timely! Great advice.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Awesome reminder for all writers of fiction.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm a huge fan of Lee's work. What a treat to have this excellent post from her!

    I love this: "They want to turn the last page of a book knowing that all is right with the world – even if only for that moment."

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great post.....i think it just gave me a little more work to do on my ms lol

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks for the reminder! Having been guilty of wielding a moral sledgehammer (years ago) I appreciate reminders every now & then to keep me on the path. The last one - end the story when it's over - that was a topic of ongoing discussion with my kids when we'd read a book and think: here's a good place to end. And the book had another chapter. Or two.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Another timely post. Looks like I need this post close by when I start revising my story, thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you for these excellent reminders...will definitely bookmark it!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Fantastic post - still working on the ending of my chaboocha novel - it's written, but will take the most editing!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Will keep your pointers in mind while I edit my draft. Thanks so much. :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. In trying to add a twist to my ending, I've totally revealed something out of left field. Hmmm....what is that word? Oh yeah, REWIRITE!

    ReplyDelete
  18. This is a handy list to keep in mind, Lee. I've already looked at my story with these points in mind. Seems I'm doing well in all but one, which I will be working on!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Another great post! Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Another great post! Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete