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Plotting the Unpredictable: Writing Surprising Yet Inevitable Endings

Goodbyes are hard, and in the world of fiction, a proper farewell in the form of a satisfying ending is even harder. So how do you surprise your readers, yet leave them nodding, thinking, “Of course, it had to be this way!”? Fasten your seatbelts, dear scribes, as we tackle the rollercoaster that is the art of conclusion.

1. Plant Seeds, Not Forests:
Subtly seed clues throughout your story, so when the twist happens, it’s unexpected but makes complete sense. The Writers’ Workshop has a great piece on how to masterfully plant these clues.

2. Character Consistency is Key:
Your ending should resonate with your characters’ motivations and arcs. To deeply understand character consistency, consider this insightful piece from Writers Digest.

3. Embrace Realism (To An Extent):
Life is unpredictable, and sometimes, fiction should mirror that. But remember, it’s a delicate balance between shocking and believable. This article from The Write Practice dives into the unpredictability quotient.

4. Test Multiple Endings:
Don’t settle on the first ending that pops into your head. Play around, test a few. Ask beta readers for their insights. Scribendi’s guide on effectively utilizing beta readers is invaluable here.

5. Look to the Classics:
Classic literature is rife with stories that have stood the test of time, mainly because of their impeccable endings. For instance, the surprise in Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None or the tragic inevitability of Romeo and Juliet. LitHub’s compilation of great book endings is a brilliant resource.


  • Q: Can I leave my story on a cliffhanger?
    • A: Cliffhangers can be effective, especially in series. However, ensure it’s satisfying and not just a gimmick.
  • Q: How do I know if my ending is too predictable?
    • A: Beta readers, writing groups, or even editors can offer fresh perspectives. If multiple readers guess the ending, it might be time for a tweak.

Want to delve even deeper into crafting that perfect climax and denouement? Writing Excuses’ episode on satisfying endings is a treasure trove of tips and insights.

Remember, writers: the last note of your symphony, the final brushstroke on your canvas, must resonate, surprise, and satisfy. Up for another enlightening expedition into the writer’s toolkit? Stick around!

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