The way you end your short story will affect whether the reader will want to read more of your work or not. While there is no rule of thumb, there are some bad short story endings that you definitely need to avoid.
It Was All a Dream
Imagine writing a compelling story, with great characters and an interesting plot and end it with a ‘’ George woke up, breathing hard. It was a dream!’’ .
It is like saying to your readers ‘’ You believed it was true? I fooled you . Ha!’’
Your readers will feel manipulated and rightfully so. They will feel like they emotionally invested for nothing and in all probability they won’t want to read more of your work.
Good Guy Turns into Bad Guy ( Or Vice Versa) With no Explanation
Imagine spending a lot of time creating a strong good character who suddenly turns into Satan’s son in the end of your story. Or imagine spending a lot of time creating a strong bad character who suddenly turns into the good Samaritan in the end of your story.
In both cases, your readers will roll their eyes because 1) You just can’t completely change a character and 2) You cannot do it without any explanation.
And They All Lived Happily Ever After
I know there are readers who like to see the couple staying together no matter what. There are readers who like to see love winning no matter what.
But this is not always a realistic ending and therefore cannot always be considered good.
If you have a couple that fights about tons of things and constantly hurt each other, you cannot give them the ‘’ they lived happily ever after’’ ending because it does not make sense. This couple is neither happy, or in love.
If you have a serial killer who falls in love with one of his victims, you cannot give them the ‘’they lived happily ever after’’ ending because it does not make sense. The central character’s mental problems can never be healed to the point that he will be happy with anyone.
Hope you found the above post helpful!
One thought on “Bad Short Story Endings”
I have a story with an ending I love and everybody else says is unfinished. A woman in an abusive relationship, there’s a tornado stalking the neighborhood. At the end she thinks somebody nearby will lose something tonight–trusting my reader to understand she’s figured out she’s lost her marriage. What do you think? Too subtle.