The Beginning of the End

Exit from labyrinthToday marks the final stage of the writing challenge, we enter into our last 7 days, and so today we will talk about the third and final act in your family history story – the ending.

It’s important to give a great deal of consideration to your story ending, particularly even before you’ve started writing.  Spend some time in advance identifying where your story is headed and how it will end.  The outlining process we reviewed in the guide is important to step in identifying the ending and plotting a path to its conclusion.  Of course, the goal of your ending is to answer the question you posed to your reader in the opening of your story.  The beginning asks a question, the ending answers it.  Your reader wants to see your ancestor achieve the wants and desires you laid out for them in the beginning of the story.

The Main Elements of a Great Ending

The final act should contain most of the essentials below in order to properly close out your story to a satisfying conclusion for your reader.

Climax – The beginning of the end starts with the climax. The climax is an event or series of events that will resolve the crisis that occurred at the end of the middle. The climax takes your story to its peak.  To identify the climax in your family history story you need to ask yourself the question: What event in my ancestor’s life sets the resolution of the crisis?

Transformation – Your ancestor has a clarity they haven’t had throughout their story. They know exactly what they have to do now, and nothing will stop them. Your ancestor overcomes their inner conflict to face their final outer conflict.

Faces Antagonist for the Final Time – If you have an antagonist in your story, they will have their final show down against your ancestor – the protagonist.  It’s in this point of your story – the protagonist will meet his opponent with resolve.

Conflict and Tension Fades – After the climax, the opposition ends, the conflict vanishes and the tension fades.

Full Circle – The story goal is achieved. Remember that goal you identified in the outlining process of our companion guide, this goal is met in the final act to bring your story full circle.

Falling Action – Your ancestor reacts to the resolution.  Your ancestor has met his goal and this is your opportunity for you share their reaction with the reader.

Unanswered Questions – Here is your chance to wrap up unanswered questions for your reader and tie up loose ends. Perhaps your ancestor revises their life goals or has a new found confidence.  You may wish to speculate, foreshadow or reveal how this story affects the rest of their life and what may lay ahead for your ancestor.

Does the conflict or opposition re-emerge for your ancestor? Just when your ancestor thought it was safe, the falling action may imply the possible return of the conflict.

The objective of your ending is to leave the reader satisfied, with logical resolutions to the conflict at the end of your ancestor’s story.  If you can write a truly memorable story, your reader should not want it to end, the best stories beg the reader to not want to close the book and are sad the story is over.  Ultimately, this is what we hope to achieve with our family history stories.