We’ve hooked, trapped, enthralled, enchanted, engrossed, captivated, mesmerized and fascinated the readers—love that thesaurus! Now we take it to the next level: drive an axe into all sanity and preconceived notions and end with a bang. Right?
Well, yes and no.
Remember that bit of victory we gave our MC in ACT II? In Act III we take it further and lead our character to the final confrontation with the antagonist. This is where the shit hits the fan. We connect the dots so to speak. We find the AHA moments that had been foreshadowing things to come and shed light on them. This is where we wrap up our plot. Regardless of series potential we need to make sure our characters and readers are not left hanging—unless your Stephen King, JK Rowling, or George RR Martin of course.
Let’s use Harry Potter as an example. In the Sorcerer’s Stone Harry finds the stone sought after by the bad guy. In the end, Harry keeps the stone from falling into the wrong hands defeating the enemy. But the enemy still lives. And so we move on to #2. And so on and so on. Plot resolved but other lingering threats just linger until next time.
Easy right? Nope. Nothing is easy in writing. I have read many a books that left me feeling sour at the ending. Especially those that moved me. I always expect that grandiose ending. But in reality it goes quicker than the Road Runner on steroids. Not a pretty picture.
While writing Act III, I ask myself the million dollar questions: What is this story about? What was the main problem? And was it resolved?
How do you know when it’s time to write “the end”?