Releasing your inner dragon

How to End a Book - Ways to End a Story that Will Thrill Your Readers

June 07, 2024 Marie Mullany & Maxwell Alexander Drake Season 4 Episode 21
How to End a Book - Ways to End a Story that Will Thrill Your Readers
Releasing your inner dragon
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Releasing your inner dragon
How to End a Book - Ways to End a Story that Will Thrill Your Readers
Jun 07, 2024 Season 4 Episode 21
Marie Mullany & Maxwell Alexander Drake

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Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

Join Drake and Marie as they discuss the resolution of your story.
Writer's room (50% off for lifetime membership):

Membership for Just In Time Worlds:

Give us feedback at releasingyourinnerdragon(at)gmail(dot)com


Drake's Contact Details:
Starving Writer Studio:
Drake-U:  - Use RYID25 for 25% off!
Writer's Room:

Marie's contact details:
Just In Time Worlds:

Everything is relative to the reader.

So if their baseline is here and I took them all the way down here and then took them all the way up here, then their emotional distance between the bottom and the top feels to them massive as opposed to if I just had something, you know, kind of bad happen and then some kind of good happen. And, you know, even if I do have something kind of bad happen to some really good happen, that is still less of a distance and emotional distance, then if I'd take them even lower.

It's the reason why, you know, especially in the genres that we play in death, loss, sacrifice, these things are so important.

Releasing your inner dragon.

So, Drake, if you were to end a story, how would you do that?

Very well. At least that's my hope.

So that's like, literally. That's the whole

the whole topic. That's a rough question to start off with. How about this? How about we start off with defining what we're going to talk about in this podcast? Because I think, you know, you could say, you're going to talk about a climax or, you know, we had the episode not too long ago about the falling action, the, you know, the return at the end of it.

So let me ask you a question. It's a little more confined, which is what are we talking about today? Like what? What do you consider the ending topic to be that we're going to discuss?

So for me, the ending topic is the resolution of your plot, your characters, and your theme it's the actual it's the climax, it's the falling action, it's the cementation of your character's growth arcs. It's that whole six events of events that falls into that.

Yeah, it's everything. It's everything the reader walks away with. It's that moment that the reader feels satisfied by the journey they just took. And I say this all the time, there's nothing real in a story. Your characters aren't real, your world isn't real, your conflict isn't real. The only thing that's real is the reader. So it doesn't matter if the character feels like they accomplish something because they're not real and they didn't accomplish anything.

It only matters what the reader has gained by this journey. And so I see the ending is that I see the ending as the culmination of have we tied everything up in this really nice way that allows the reader to feel fulfilled from the journey they just took? That's everything from, you know, like you said, it's everything from the character's journey.

Do they feel the characters stories are complete? They're both. They're external and internal stories, but also that somatic element, you know, the reason for the story, Do they feel like they have learned something, gained something, you know, been forced to contemplate, something that they can relate to their own lives? Because that's what stories are about. And I think that's the biggest thing that people have lost today.

So many stories today are being told on the superficial level, the physical layer that I call it, and those are fine, but you can only have so many transformers. You know, we that's that's not what stories as a whole are supposed to do. You know, I've said this before, all this is kind of a recent addition to my nomenclature.

A healthy society needs healthy stories. And so that's what we need here. We need we need to understand that storytellers are the thing that helps Societies want to be better. And when we have these superficial stories that have no substance to them, it's just blowing stuff up and and that's it. I don't think that the occasional one of those is great.

The occasional one of those is, yeah, let's go watch Transformers and watch a bunch of stuff blow up. It's going to be fun. It's like getting on a roller coaster. It's fun. but it's it's not impactful you don't you don't think a year from now, man. That roller coaster ride that I took it,

Six Flags, it really has impacted my life.

So much that I'm still thinking about it to this day. No, it was just fun in the moment. And that's all these stories. And that's where I feel like Hollywood is really messing up because everything has now become these little rollercoaster rides and there's no substance to them.

So all I'm going to I've said it before, I'm going to say it again. I think that one of the largest problems is that there are very few people amping for a specific piece of content to be made, right? There are very few people like why was dune, why was Villeneuves dune so good? Because Villeneuve wanted to make the movie he pushed for it to be made.

Yeah and.

And because there is so much content being churned out these days by the studio there is nobody driving for like why was blue eyed samurai so good Because the writers had been working on it for ages and they went to the studio and sold the script. But it is. Those projects are rare and the majority of projects now is the studio going?

We think this will get people to click on it, make that and there's no writer heart behind the project.

So you're saying you're I think what you're saying is it might be a bad idea for a comic book franchise to hire somebody who's never read comic books and who thinks comic books are stupid to write and direct comic book movies. Is that what you're saying? it sounds crazy to me. That sounds crazy. I think.

That is a.

Good I think I think you're wrong. I think somebody who hates comic books is going to be the best comic book writer. Why wouldn't they be? Yeah. Yeah. It's it boggles my mind. Why they've gone down there like, we're going to write a comic book movie who really hates comic book movies, Let's get them to write it.

But it's not like it's not just an individual project or anything like this. I know that it's fun to kind of pick on the individual projects, but it's not an individual project. There is a systemic problem in how Hollywood and studios are approaching content creation.

Yeah, and.

Part of that is adaption to streaming, which they just have not done.

Yeah, they're no longer having creators come to them with permission and going, What is? Let me do this. They're actually going out and going, okay, I want a movie that has big reptiles in it, yet somebody who wants to make this for me.

Yeah, and that's the problem. Like because they're now pushing this money out in order to generate all this content. It just it's empty.


Because it's just it's, it's like playing a ghost writer to write your story. Sure. The words might come onto the paper and the prose might be pretty enough, but there's no heart.

A great example and real time is Stranger Things. So they came to Netflix and they were like, Please, please, please. And Netflix is like, fine. And it just blew up and everyone loved it. And then they finished season three and they were like, That's it, We're done. We're not doing another one. And Netflix like, No, no, you're going to do one.

We're going to force you to do one. And so they did, and season four feels like a season written by people who just didn't want to do a season four. Like they literally said, We don't want to do a season four. No. So it's the the creator has to be in it. You know, it's it's really funny. So this is off our topic but on to this topic that we're on here.

So I'm writing my first Harn world story. So I was hired as the official writer for Harn World. I love Harn World. I'm excited about Harn World, but it has taken me longer to get into this story. I mean, I spent about three weeks working on the first three chapters because the first time I wrote them and they were well-written, but they didn't have any soul in them.

I didn't think I would I would let some beta readers read it and they'd be like, this is great. You know, this is this is really well-written. But then I let some of my inner circle read it and they're like, Yeah, it's well written, but it's not you. There's no you in here. I don't feel your storytelling.

And so it took me a while to really kind of get into this world that isn't my you know, it's not my world. It's a world that has been created. It's a world that exists out there, you know, for the last 40 years. And so it was harder for me to get into that than it is for me to just drop into something that I'm creating, not that I'm not passionate about this stuff.

I love it. I am really excited about it. And the story that they gave me for the first story to write is one of the most impactful moments of the history of the world. And I'm so I'm totally excited about it. But it's not my world.

But it's not your world and it's not your story, right? You haven't built every layer of it. You haven't embedded the themes you want to play with. You have to play with other people's toys. Right? And now imagine that you're some writer who's just kind of started their career. Maybe you kind of had one or two stories under your belt and a studio executive says, You have ten days.


And and then you wonder why stories come out with, like, pasted on bad, you know, because like.

Yeah, it really is that way. So and I finally got it. I love these first three chapters now, and everybody who's now had the chance to read them are very happy with them. But it's taken me longer to get into it than, than that. I Right. So that's, that's that rabbit chase. But let's get back on to the endings.

You know, the thing that I want to talk about in the beginning of this that I think that that you can't have a discussion about endings because endings aren't endings. Endings are combinations of beginnings. And so I think that if you don't set things up correctly, that your endings are always going to fall flat. So the ending must start in the beginning.

You must know where you're going with that because you must lay in these things. So, you know, we talked before the show. I want to talk about the the kind of three layers. And this was something that both of us kind of discovered a different way of thinking about this when we were doing the research on this. Because, you know, we've always talked about theme, We talk about thematic element, we talk about the story delivering that theme.

But one of the things we discovered in our research was kind of a different way to look at that. Once you kind of let, like answer what is what do you think that is? What are those three layers that that we're now looking at?

So the way that we would normally look at them is the way that we would break them up in the terminology that we use is character, character growth arcs, plot and theme. But there's a YouTuber called Tyler Marie, who had a great structure for for this, and he called it the external stakes, which is our plot, the internal stakes, which is the character growth arc and the philosophical stakes, which is the theme, the what is the big question you're asking and your ending has to resolve all three of those things.

But in order to resolve it, you have to set the stakes at the start, right? Because your ending is the culmination. So if your character is growing from

it's like an example from Avatar, The Last Airbender, the the, the cartoon Sokka grows to not be a misogynist, so he has to start the beginning of the of the series as a misogynist and then go through various growth points to the end where he's not.

And that's a, that's the internal stakes. So that character.

Yeah. Or the character growth arc. Yeah, I really like that. I really like that because I think so many writers, I mean, we think about it just kind of innately. So when we talk about the physical layer, the story layer, we know we're talking about both the character internal growth and whatever the external stakes are. You know, obviously the external stakes on The Last Airbender cartoon is not becoming a non misogynist, isn't like that's not going to save the world or change the world in any way changes, you know?

So, you know, we just innately know that those two layers and think they're so yeah.

What I like about splitting them to think about is I think that it helps the writer understand that the internal growth arc is not the plot. You need both of these things. There's the internal growth talk, there's the thematic message and there's the plot. All three need to come to a conclusion. They need to be a supported conclusion where they are, they support each other, but they are not the same thing.

Your character learning to throw a bit of fire ball so that he can defeat the monster at the end of the story is not an internal growth. That is all plot.

It's also not a thematic element.

Yes, it's not a dramatic element. That's all plot that's I need to throw a bit of fire ball. I go learn to throw a bit of fire ball. I'm a better mage because of it. I have better physical capabilities. I defeat the monster. That's all plot.

And that's going to be a very flat story for the reader. There's something there to be moved by. I mean, that's the thing is these three layers are integral, integrally connected, intimately connected.

They're intimately connected. The problem is, let's say that this character is a I don't know, let's say that are they they don't they don't know. They have no confidence in themselves. And part of the journey is supposed to learn confidence, right? Let's say you didn't have the fireball and the monster.

Well, no, let's just go with that one physical. That's a good physical layer.

no, no. But my point is, like, if you just had the growth arc with none of the plot layer.

Right, Right.

Then you're then you're telling a different boring story. Like they then you basically just going like, like look at the look at the growth. Look at the growth.

But it's so that lost what you're talking about is so we have this kid who wants to be a mage, but he doesn't have the confidence he can do it. And so he he literally sits there and talks to himself or maybe talks to his cousin and eventually realizes that maybe he could do it if he if he really applied himself.

And yeah, look at me. I've gained confidence, end of the story.

And then he goes and does it. Yeah. Okay.

So it's it's it has to be this. So just looking at these two layers and that's what we've talked about, the internal growth arc of this character, gaining control themselves has to be intimately linked with the fact that we need to master Fireball so that we can become a master wizards, that we can beat that the the monster that's threatening the world.

Yeah, they both have to happen simultaneously and they both have to move the reader. But now there's that third layer, which is what is the somatic element that we're going over. So let's just be simple here since we're kind of got a simple story. So maybe the somatic element we're playing with is the basic simplistic good versus evil.

Why do we got to get this monster? Because it is the epitome of evil. It kills without remorse, it kills without reason. It doesn't need it to eat or anything like that. It's just this it hates everything. And, you know, our character is going to represent, you know, sacrificing himself for the safety of others, you know, to be the good role model.

And so now that gives us that third layer. And so all three layers have to grow and develop simultaneously so that they all are concluded in a way that's satisfying to the reader. Because if you don't have a dramatic element, then you have a michael Bay picture. And really, Michael Bay doesn't even have internal arc. Like a lot of times it's just the external conflict.

I mean, that's what happens in a lot of Michael Bay movies. Some movies add in the internal growth arcs, you have the internal and the external, but you have no thematic message and so therefore, it still doesn't work. You know, no one walks away with it. It's when you get all three of those that the story shines for the audience.

Those are the ones that rise above, you know, the difference because there's 800,000 stories hit the hit Amazon every single year. Yeah, most of them are instantly forgettable because they're not hitting all three layers of what you need to do for the story.

Yeah, So I think that is a really, really solid way to think about your story and ending it because you do have to. The end has to cement those three layers for the reader.


It has to address your somatic question. It has to cement the character growth and it has to deal with the plot threads, all the plot threads. If this is the ending ending, don't leave dangling plotline plot threads.

Yeah, and let's get into that later because I still think we're in the defining stage because there's another mistake that I think a lot of people make on these. As a matter of fact, in the writers room last couple of writing sessions, I've been working with someone on this very, very thing.


another thing is

lack of focus.

Stories aren't reality, stories are

windows into whatever we're doing. So these three layers that we're talking about, you know, the plot, the plot or the external stakes, the gross, the character internal gross arc or the internal stakes, and then the theme or the philosophical stakes, you know, as that other YouTuber told them.

So I think the important thing for each one of those is you should be able to, at the end of the story, answer the question, were these stakes solved or not like the reader should be able to go, You know, it's like if we look at Star Wars, obviously the external story arc is we have an empire that is threatening the rebels

and it's going to take over the universe and kill everybody and put everybody under a tyrannical sun. So do we defeat the empire, period? I mean, that's that's the question. And, you know, the answer is yes, we blow up the Death Star, we defeat them. But that's a physical layer. If that's all the movie was, that's pretty weak.

The internal growth arc for Luke Skywalker is an internal kind of what we were talking about with the fireball story. It's believing in yourself. It's do you have confidence in your ability to actually do this? Yes. You start as a farm boy, but can you actually be a warrior? Can you actually start this this path? And he does he takes up the mantle, he flies the ship, he goes into battle.

And he, you know, is the one who delivers the killing blow. And then on the message side, the somatic side we're dealing with, should you rely on technology or should you rely on faith? And do we have an answer to that? Yes. He turns off his target computer. He believes in a power greater than himself. He has faith and he uses that faith who relies on that faith to help him win the day.

And so we have all three of those layers being set up at the beginning. We work through through the entire story, and then each one of them has a resolution that the reader can point to and go, yes or no? Yes, we both up the Death Star. No, we didn't blow up the Death Star. Yes, Luke Skywalker has got the confidence that he can be a warrior.

No, he doesn't. Yes, he's relying on faith. No, he hasn't. Like you. I think that's the thing that so many writers mistake. Stories are about reality there. And it's too complex, it's too big, it's too insane. Everything has to come to a point, a yes or no binary choice, which doesn't happen in the real world. And so, so many stories are ruined because writers are trying to tell reality.

But that's not what a story is.

Yes. And I think it's important to remember that like this, the same thing, especially in our genre, in fantasy, the setting, the story, all of it. It is there to serve the delivery of your plot and your characters and your theme. That's its purpose. It is not reality. But if you choose to incorporate things from our history because you know, realism or whatever, the longer I'm doing this, the more I'm like realism is totally the most ridiculous reason to include anything in a fantasy setting because its purpose is not to be realistic.

Its purpose is to deliver the story.

Yeah, its purpose is to impact the reader. Yeah.

So if it's realistic that you have you know what? Like whatever, whatever historical deviation you want to put in, it doesn't matter. Yeah, it really doesn't matter. Yeah And whatever thing that you choose to include from our history, you are choosing to do that. You, the author, like no one's forcing you. There is no stick that says you must include this.

It's your choice.

So two stories. One more of a break is it's one of the reasons why I you never want to be 100% accurate in anything that you did. Yeah, because it's boring. And only experts are going to understand the reality of what you're doing. You know? So the the what was the Mars story that Matt Damon.

But the potato thing.

I don't know I didn't see it it's left on Mars and he has to try and yeah one thinks he's dead. I can't I mean life on Mars is stuck in my head. But that's not that's a show that has nothing to do with Mars at all. It's has to do with time. Traveling back to the 1970s, The Martian.

Thank you very much Brian. I appreciate that. So the Martian, like so many people, watched that and they were like, my God, this was so scientifically factual. It was so real. And then NASA came out with like a 30 page letter that was like, here's all the scientifically inaccuracies that are in this. But that's just it. Only NASA's scientists are going to know that it's wrong.

And if you did it right, it wouldn't be as impactful on the audience. So, you know, it's the same thing with what we're talking about here. But here is here's a great lesson. So when when I was working on the Realm, we're talking to massive stories, the biggest thing I've ever created, Who knows if you've ever actually get written now.

But I spent three years working on it, and so hopefully one day I will get the time to write it, even though it's kind of fallen apart for now. But it's this massive epic story with eight trilogies that all are individual, standalone trilogies that all tied together and all come together in one big climactic ending and I don't think my proteges really ever realized how hard it was to get there, because I kept going, Yeah, but what's the thing?

What's the thing? The on off switch at the end of this the yes no binary choice like yeah, we're, we're destroying an entire world and we're bringing in eight different aspects of this world and you know, there's eight different magic systems and eight different cultures and eight different races and eight different everything's great. But at the end of the day, it has to be a binary choice.

It has to be a yes no light switch on off and so it's really easy for writers to create. And that's the problem with George Martin. I pick on him all the time. He never comes to a point. He just grows and grows and grows and grows and grows. His story. That's why Season eight of Game of Thrones was never going to be good because you've just gone so far out that there's no.

Dispute that I could have made that thing good. I could have made.

It good with more time. You couldn't. I don't think you could have done it in season eight, But if you had if you could have done it by season 12.

I will just again, that those writers were offered additional seasons. HBO put no pressure. They were like, You want money, You can have more money, you can have more money, you can have more time, you can have additional episodes. You can have additional seasons.


Okay. Those two little buggers, we're like, No, we're done. We want to go make Star Wars.


No, no, no. They do not get out of it that easy.

And that's fine. And I'm not saying that, but I'm just saying you can't do it. And one more. Yeah.

One more simple, said I saying, but I agree with that. But, but you could have ended that story.

But George Martin hasn't finished anything. I mean, we pick on Game of Thrones because the most well known but his wild card series is the same way he just kept building out an out and out and out and out and then you just can't. And that's what happens to him. He reaches the point where he's like, Well, there's no way to bring this together now.

And so I quit. And so that's what he does. He just keeps going out until he quits. And I think so. And it's not just a series, though. You have to think about that now. We do because we write epic fantasy. So we're constantly thinking we want to build the world like that. But eventually we have to come to a binary choice.

Like what? Every novel needs to work that way. Your novel, your short story, your novella. I mean, this novella that I'm writing for our world, I'm, I start at a point I build out, out, out, out, out. But I turn and I come to a binary choice at the end, like the an audience can't consume them more than that.

It will not impact them if it's not a binary choice at the end. Now, I'm not saying that you can't have, you know, a threesome choice or whatever, but the more complex you make it, the more esoteric it's going to be and the less the less the mass audiences are going to be able to consume this. Every story will find an audience.

This actually Segways nicely into one of the things that I want to discuss, which is the complexity with ending political fantasy.


Yeah, really any political novel but political fantasy because, you know, we're fantasy writers now.

Although medical.


This is all you because I don't do political stuff at all. I hate politics.

Political fantasy is not a normal fantasy story that has politics in it. That's not a political fantasy. Political fantasy is literally like House of the Dragon. There is no external force. There are multiple factions vying for control, right? Maybe there is, you know, someone who is trying to overthrow the government. You've got revolutionaries, you've got rebellions or things like that, and then you've got the government forces.

And normally with these stories, what you do is you have POV characters on both sides of the conflict,

okay? You've got POV, characters on the bad side and POV, characters on the good side, and you can have all kinds of action and political fantasies because war is a political act. So you can, you know, you can have wars and all of that kind of action.

But the, the issues of it are.

Assassinations and intermarriage.

And all of that, all that kind of action stuff. But it is ultimately a a combat between human factions for control of of like a government or whatever. And you have two problems with it. But the first is that if you writing political fact the fantasy and you then introduce an external element, it's very easy for that external element to take over.

And it then turns from a political fantasy into a kind of more epic or adventure fantasy, and you might lose your readers who I mean, because a political fantasy reader is a, is a very specific beast.


Like and they don't want their political fantasy to suddenly turn into like an adventure fantasy like that. That's not on their menu. And but your other problem is it is really, really hard to end such a complex story because you've now built, let's say, six seven factions who are all vying for control, right? You've got POV characters in all of them.

How do you end that in a way that satisfies as the reader? And bear in mind that the best political fantasies would end in a way that that introduces change into the society. So whether it's, you know, a change in a government or like a change of the people in the government or something, right? Because you want that kind like you like the the nothing changes.

But that's also enough, you know. And the problem is that comes with its own complexity is because, you know, now, now you're elected. There's a never ending element here. Let's say you've won the revolution. Yeah, but now what you look like, you don't just introduce democracy and tomorrow we're all dancing through the streets going, Democracy's great. That's not how political change works.

So it is a very difficult beast to end properly. And I think one of the biggest problems is political fantasy readers don't boil their questions that don't boil their theme down and they focus on the growth, they focus on the characters and the plot and those they do very well. But what is your thematic question in this political sense?

Is it that power or was Triumph's? Is it like what? What what is the thematic element? And if you can answer that thematic element in how you end your political fantasy, I think you can have a good ending, but you must commit to it. Yeah, if your theme is like a grim, dark kind of theme of like everybody is terrible people or whatever, you need to commit to it on a Joe Abercromby level and the characters all just suffer in the end because it's, you know, or if your theme is like, you know, if, if enough people stand up to, to tyranny, it is overthrow and you must commit to it.

The tyrant must be overthrown, you know, the whatever.

Like the what goes it goes exactly what we were talking about earlier. But the focus, it has to end up being a binary. Can we point to these layers? You know, you have your plot now, your plot is much bigger because we have so many different characters that are all they're not even working toward the same goal yet.

Each one is working toward their own goal, which is maybe antithetical to the other of his goals. But can we point to it and go, is it resolved? You know, did this character kill the other characters? Whatever We have the internal growth arcs, which may be a societal thing depending on what you're doing, and then you have the message thing.

But each one of them, you're literally saying the same thing that I would do in an epic fantasy. You're going through the three layers and you're trying to get to the point where the reader can say, Yes, I understand this and how it how it is resolved doesn't mean it's good or bad. It just means it's resolved. Yes, They blow up the Death Star.

No, they didn't book the Death Star, you know. Yes they chose faith. No, they didn't choose faith. It doesn't matter what the choice is that that what the what the answer is is going to dictate whether you're writing a feel good story or a tragedy. But both stories are fantastic. Tragedies move people just as much as feel good stories.

The good stories are just easier, in my opinion, to write. So that's really what you're saying. You're still saying the same thing.

I am. It's just it is more complicated because you often your characters will be in conflict with each other and they'll be in conflict until the end. So it's hard to craft a satisfying ending for the reader, given that they might very well be liking more. The guy on the other side.

Right? Yeah. I mean, I don't I wouldn't call this a political fantasy, but Steve's World, which was pretty much spearheaded by my aspirin and he got a bunch of, you know, good solid fantasy writers back in the eighties and they this is before the Internet. So they were doing it all over mail, snail mail. But each one of them came up with a character in this city.

They kind of fleshed the city out together. And then the rule was you can use anyone else's characters in any way, shape or form, killing them. But then it became canon. And so each one of them wrote a story with their characters, the P.O.V., but all the other characters were secondary characters in theirs. And so I remember because each writer is writing their character with their love and passion, and then that character just gets killed in another story and you're just like, Ow that hurts.

I really like that character. And now they're they're dead. And, you know, all the writers had agreed that this is just what's going to do. So you just create a new character. You keep you're still a writer in it. You just now have to have something different. So I really like that series. And again, I wouldn't call it political.

Fantasy, but it is it does speak to the problem.

Right? You know, with political things. Right. It still comes down to focus. It still comes down to the a writer needs to understand that a story has a job to do. And as with every job, like you're either going to build the wall or you're not going to build the wall, or you're going to give the customer a hamburger, or you're not going to give the customer a hamburger.

You're either going to fix the car or you're not going to fix the car. It's a job. And so stories have a job to do, and that is Impact the Reader. And how you do it is these three levels and focusing down to a binary choice Do they succeed or do they fail? And then depending on which way you go, is what type of story you're telling, whether it's feel good or a tragedy.

And I think that's the biggest thing that so many people miss with their endings is they, one, they don't focus on all three levels. They either just completely and theme, unfortunately, is the one that most people just just don't even think about. And it just never happens. And so that's where you get the weak story that has no meat.

But that's really it. It's looking at all three of those things. Now, there is a caveat to that external story arcs. External story arcs don't have character growth. Sure, you take something like Lord of the Flies, Jack and Ralf, they're not characters. They're not going to grow. They can't grow because they're allegories. And that's the only problem with an external story arc is that your character's allegory?

But I think that's the reason why external story arcs like Lord of the Flies or Vendetta are never going to be as financially successful as an internal story arc like your Star Wars or your, you know, Lord of the Rings or Indiana Jones or whatever. And it's because we're not given one of those three layers, so therefore we can never play with it.

So therefore, the audience, they don't know it, but they subconsciously feel it. Yeah. And so it's just not going to impact them at the depth that having that, that third layer, that internal story arc is going to do. It's not say don't do an external story arc. Just when you do it, you need to understand you have lost 33% of your ability to impact the reader and that shows it, which is why so few of them actually rise to the top of your Lord of the Rings or V for Vendetta, stuff like that.

They rise to the top for every one of the flies. I'm sorry, Lord of the Flies.

The ring has an internal right.

Sorry, even flies. But that's I mean, I guarantee you, for every, you know, Beef BURNETT or Lord of the Flies, there is a thousand internal story arcs out there that ten people read.

Yeah, absolutely.

And they were those ten people were not impacted by it. Yeah. So you really have to shine on the thematic element and the.

The actual story arcs are so hard. Yeah, because, because not only do you run the risk of, you know, not not getting your ending right because you're working with 33% less, but you also run the risk of like overdoing it, like over baking your theme and, and you know, then it feels like a sledgehammer to the face as opposed to like a subtle part of the story.

Yeah. So that's what is.

It is a hard thing to.

But that segways nicely into something I want to talk about which is and I don't understand this, I do not understand why so many people do this, but basically if at the end of your story, you then have to spend time explaining to your story why they should be impacted by the journey they just took. And this comes into play with with Epilog so often where it's like, I mean, for as great as the Harry Potter series is, I do not feel this is the last book in that series did it justice.

And one of the weakest parts of that is the Epilog, where you get to see Harry married to Ginny and they're dropping their kids off to, you know, platform, whatever, in three quarters. I don't remember what it was.

Nine and three quarters. Now, absolutely nothing has changed except we now have good people in charge of the Ministry of Magic.

But it's also that wasn't a you could tell what that what the author was doing with that she was going, I'm going to put a nail in the coffin because I never want to write in this world again. So let me close this in a way so that nobody can ask me for more. Now, she later regretted that, which is why she ended up writing more stuff in it.

I don't ever want to destroy one of my IPS. I mean, I'd like to be able to go back to it if I so choose. But it's really the the worst offenders of These are your murder mysteries. Yeah. Where at the end of it, the last one is, okay, everyone gather around while Piro tells you what actually happens and you're the murderer.

And it's like, that's why when you get something like a knives out or something like that, although knives out kind of did it in the same way. I don't know. Maybe that's why I'm not such a huge murder mystery fan. Because at the end of so many of them, you just get puked at what? What you should have known, what you should have found, what you should have gotten.

You should not have to explain things to the audience if you did your story right, if you do the setup, if you set up and say, look, an external conflict is going to be there's an empire that is very dangerous, it's going to kill innocent people. What is the internal story arc? This character does not feel that they can ever make an impact on this whatsoever.

What's the thematic element? Well, we start off with technology. We're going to introduce faith at the very beginning, you know, with the whole OBI one, it surrounds you with it penetrates you. It's in us, it's outside of us, it's everywhere. It's nowhere. You can see it, you can't see it, you can feel it, you can't feel it. You know, all that stuff we set all those things up and then we go through and we focus on them and we get answers to them at the end.

If you do that correctly, you should not have to go and then explain to your audience what the deal was in the story.

I think like that epilog of Harry Potter. If there had been an epilog to show actual time pulse right? And there was like, I don't know, elven like, like house elf people dropping house elf kids off at the station. Right? That would have been an epilog worth reading because now because you can't do that immediately after the story.

Right. That sort of changed text.

All right.

But now you're like, okay, the households have actually followed in his footsteps and they've gotten freedom for themselves from like the oppression of the wizard and you actually see the change starting. So that's been on board for that.

Epilog That's more of a return. That's more of a what is life like now for the hero after the adventure is over?

So 100%. But the thing is, it's such a long period, like you've got to get you've got to let like 20 years odd pass, right? And so I know you can do it in a chapter, but I personally would probably have made that call to make it an epilog because of the time passage.


Or maybe to even switch briefly into like a elven head just for the epilog to show you that moment.

And I can see some, some advantages and disadvantages of that, but this is not the time or the place to talk about that. My point was just.

The problem was what she tried to do with that epilog is she tried to show character growth.

Exactly like all she was trying to do was just trying to tell the reader, I don't want to do this anymore.

No, because. Because she was she was Harry was telling his kid that these are the head monsters I knew based these. These are the guys you named for, and you'll be brave. And it's okay to be in Slytherin. She was showing like remember in first year where he's like, what if I'm in Slytherin, it's terrible and then here it's okay to be in Slytherin. That's basically the growth arc demonstration, right?

It's like it is Slytherin's not all bad is the arc there and that's what she's trying to cement there because nowhere in the books has she made it that Slytherin is okay Every single slithering bar Draco right at the end and snipe right at the end are the epitome of jerk face.

That's where I was going with that.

Yeah. She never did that arc. So then she jams it in into the epilog.

And that's where I was going with that. You never

again. Like I said, if you have to explain it to what they should feel and what they should have learned, then you have failed. Yeah, the story should do that. It should allow for that to happen when that story ends, like when Star Wars ends, you get you get some medals, You don't need anything other than that.

You get you get to watch them smile and laugh and and that's all we need. We just need that moment of, yeah, let's go to like I love you know, you call it room to breathe. And that's really what it is. It's just you're giving the reader, okay, we've now done this thing. Now let's take a breath. Now let's actually take a breath and go, Okay, It's all cool.

And it allows them to revel in their victory and feel like they've had a job well done and then they can put the book down, but the movie down, whatever, and they can walk away and they feel fulfilled by that journey. And I think that's where so many people just they go, I didn't do my job well enough, so let me just have this character start narrating.

You know what? They should have gotten, what the reader should have gotten out of this journey. So I just it's just I'm I want to talk about I think that it's something that if that's if you get to the end of your story and you start feeling like you have to tell the reader stuff, then just don't do that and go back and figure out where you can organically.

But anyway, I'll tell you why the mystery writers do it. They do it because, like it's basically to show the reader the clues. They're not doing it from a character growth perspective. They're doing it from a plot perspective so that the reader doesn't have to go crawl back through the story to pick up all the clues that the actual detective picked up, basically.


That's that's their purpose in kind of the the pyro explains or the who's the as Sherlock explains, you know, etc.. And that's why Sherlock Holmes a conversation at the end where like Sherlock explains, it's the same as the Epilog.

As Burrow's Epilog I'm not going to say that that's wrong for mystery. I'm going to say it's definitely wrong for me as a reader because I don't read mysteries and there's a reason for it because I always feel.

Yeah, yeah, it doesn't work. I mean, I've read all the Sherlock Holmes, so I guess at some level at least that did work for me. But it's not something that I generally read. But, but that is, that is also to me, that is a different thing from what you're talking about, which is that I didn't do a growth arc.

So let me let me insert it.


Exactly or I didn't cement the growth arc, you know.

So there's a, there's a couple more things on my notes that I kind of want to talk about doing is three things, four things that I want to talk about. But do you have something something?

Go for it.

All right. So so we talked about the three different layers and coming up with the end. And I've talked about this in certain ways before, but I'm gonna talk about a little bit different. So if we have an emotional baseline of where our readers are, then as the story is going on, the lows are going to come below that baseline and the highs are going to come above that baseline.

Yeah, and the reason why I say that it's all about going as low as you can possibly go. I mean, like

the reason why

I almost

grazed the side of horror on some of my low scenes is because I want to take you as far down as I can so that when we come up to the top and we have the highs,

Everything is relative to the reader.

So if their baseline is here and I took them all the way down here and then took them all the way up here, then their emotional distance between the bottom and the top feels to them massive as opposed to if I just had something, you know, kind of bad happen and then some kind of good happen. And, you know, even if I do have something kind of bad happen to some really good happen, that is still less of a distance and emotional distance, then if I'd take them even lower.

It's the reason why, you know, especially in the genres that we play in death, loss, sacrifice, these things are so important.

And so to make your end really sing these three different things, it is about not just setting them up and we have to set up all three of them. We have to let the reader know here is what the external problem is going to be.

The things that are externally at stake here is the internally, the stuff that is at stake, and here is the thematic thing that I'm going to be teaching you, even though that is the hardest, because that's almost a subtext. So you can't flat out state it. But like Star Wars mostly you don't even know the theme is between technology and faith.

So that is really subtextual throughout the entire thing. The only time it's in your face is at the very end when Obi-Wan is in one ear and Princess Leia is in the other. And it's technology, faith. That's it. That's the only time it's actually in your face. But not only do we need to set those up and then come to a binary decision at the end, whether it's successful or fails, the big thing is the setbacks that the that the characters are going to face.

The harsher they are, the more they lose, the more they sacrifice the the better it's going to feel when I hit those heights. So it's why we push that. Your characters should feel like they are earning everything they get because they have suffered so greatly. And again, does this work in every episode? No, of course not. Or genre.

I said episode is work in every genre. No, of course not. But we write epic fantasy. And so I'm assuming that a lot of the people that are listening to us are down that sci fi fantasy adventure, you know, kind of of path. And so that is the reason why you cannot baby your readers, you cannot fantasy fulfill within your characters.

I sorry I said baby readers, you can't baby your characters. They are not real. And so when you fall in love with them, you know, one of my proteges I have it's been one of his biggest problems as a writer. His entire career is he really loves his characters and so he doesn't like doing bad things to them.

And so the highs just don't feel as high as they could actually feel, you know, you should destroy your characters so that when they do come out on top, it feels monumentally different between those highs and the lows. And so it's one of the reasons why the all hope is lost moment in the end of the story is so important.

You know where we're supposed to blow up the Death Star and save the world. Everyone dies, everyone read, Leader dies. I don't care. I think Red Leader lives, but all of his friends die. All these people get blown up, and at the end of it, he's going to die. Luke is dead. Darth Vader's on his tail. Darth Vader is the best of the best and nothing can stop him.

My targeting computer is about to lock in on you, even though it looks like it was made from the 1950s. And you're going to die, There's nothing that's going to save you like nothing. There's not even his Han Solo, lest there's no one. And then the rescue from without. And you're like, my goodness. Thank you so much, Han.

That's why it impacts us because it is so low that then when he makes the shot, the distance between the low and the highest, what we're trying to to really focus in on here, not just that there's a high and a low and that's why the all hope is lost moment right before the climax. Because the climax, you know, one of the things we haven't talked about here, but we did talk about in the climax episode is the unfortunate ness of how quickly the climax happens.

Like there's really no way to draw out a climax that the the character realizes they're on the wrong side theme. They move to the right side of theme. They take all their lessons learned and they apply them to overthrowing over, you know, overcoming, beating, whatever the thing. And then that's it. It's over. Like, you can't draw that out.

They've made the decision. They do it. They when we launch the torpedo, it blows up the Death Star. That's it makes the climax very short. And like we said the last time, there's definitely a sex joke in there. It's very short, but because it's so short, that's why the hope is lost moment, which happens right before the climax, is so vitally important when you take them to the depths of despair.

I'm here to save my wife. You can't. I'm about to put a bullet in her head. She's surrounded by 50 people. You can't have her. You're going to die now. She's going to die or live the rest of her life. Suffering. There's nothing you can do. All hope is lost. Like you have no weapon. You came here with all these weapons.

Now we've taken them all from you. We've tied you up, we beat you. You cannot have this. Like the more horrible the all hope is lost moment is. But. But it's. It's not just the hope. It's awesome. It's every setback. The more sacrifice that every setback forces the reader, the character to have, the higher the emotional impact of the win is.

And That's one of the reasons why I'm such a dark writer, is because those victories feel monumental when you claw your way out of the pit of hell. And so that's another thing that I just don't think a lot of writers do. They just they don't let their character sacrifice enough. They don't let them live in misery enough.

They don't let them hard enough. They kind of fantasy feel like, I kind of am my character and I don't want to be mean to me. So, you know, I mean, yeah.

I, I, I do agree with that too, to a certain extent. I also feel like it's important to note that sometimes you can have that kind of like all hope is lost moment in a different place and in a different way. So I was I was thinking about what you're saying while comparing it to, to a book that has a darkness that's defeated in the middle and then a very long process.

You take the lessons that you learned out of defeating this darkness. You take it to go and get a thing that then brings you full circle back home. That allows you to free to do right an injustice. That is. I know.

But that's just it. You're actually just talking about, another setback. So that the feeling, the darkness in the middle of a story is not your all hope is lost moment.

Hard to say.

But that's it.

Yes or no? So the thing is that darkness is actually a world ending event. And the thing you do at the end is actually just the personal stakes.

I can see that. But still, the story is about the personal stakes.

So the story is about the personal stakes. But the the the moment in the darkness is in. And of like that whole section of the book, because it's not it's not like one chapter. We're talking like chapters.

Right, Right.

Right. Is incredibly dark. And these there are moments where all hope is lost in there and you don't know how the characters are going to get out. You're like, they're going to die here.

I'm assuming you talk about a real story, but I'm going to use it as a as a mental exercise. So if we look at these things, the external plot arc of this character probably isn't about that darkness. It's about something else. It's a growth.

Well, she has to learn a lesson that she has to learn how to empty herself out so that she can carry the name of God.

But it still isn't the external stakes. Yes, more than likely at the beginning of that, some external stakes shown to the reader that were beyond that moment. So that's really more of a mid act two climax. It's just a very, very, very big, heavy, world defying mid act two climax, but it still feeds into exactly what I'm saying. So we still have the external stuff that's different.

It's going to we know it's going to go past that because it isn't resolved in that we have an internal that isn't resolved in that. And again, I don't know the story and then the thematic elements isn't resolved in that. So it's still just another scene of setbacks. Now, in that case, it's huge, but it's still just another set back within the story.

It's a you know, what are.

We to it's a middle to scene climax that most authors would have made the end of their book.

Right. Like, I'll give you that. But I mean, it's still just, we want to kill. We got trapped inside of an asteroid. We got like these. I'm just going through the little set back. Yeah. No, no.

And under percent, 100%. But it is like it was it was so dark that when they escaped out of that thing, when they make it out, it it is such a deep relief. And then because it was in the middle of the book rather than the end, you had a whole book to deal with PTSD.


Like a whole half a book to deal with PTSD, which was amazing in and of itself.

Yeah. So there's there's two ways that we could have that we could approach, that we could set up external internal somatic stakes that are going to resolve in that big climax. Yeah, call that book one and then do a book to afterwards this. Or we could do it the way you're, you're doing it there. But now the way you're doing it there means that the external internal and thematic stakes were set up that had that never got resolved in that middle part because that's not the story.

So again, it's still about focus, even though we have this big world shattering thing and the end of it is more personal. We know as the audience we would not have been fulfilled if the book ended after the big thing. The way it was written there, it would feel like half the story. Even though Greg feels like it's big to be the end of us.

Because at the opening of the story, you know that. So it's because she was Avatar writer at the opening of the story. Phaedrus set up so that her her friend sacrificed himself. He's sitting on an island where he's the master, right? So he's got like, all this power, but he can't the island and he will not die. But he gets older, so he's mortal and aging but deathless, stuck on an island.

To become the crypt keeper.

That that's a lot of sacrifice, you know. And he did that for her. So at the at the the book opens with her like having a dream that I don't know never open a dream. But it really worked. Having a dream that's like basically says you have an opportunity to free him and that's kind of that sets the stakes that is the stakes for the books is is getting high since it's the island and then saving the world and our sangha is like a thing she has to do along the way.

Yeah, but you just I mean, you just nailed it exactly what we've been saying. She set the stakes of a story that had nothing to do with saving the world, had to do with something. And since that doesn't happen now, we could also have it happen during that big climax. But that's the point. The point of all of this is focus.

Like every bit of this, you want to have a successful story, you have to understand that you're not writing reality. You're writing a thing to impact an audience. That's it. And so they can't. An audience, a reader can’t, consume reality. And in a story, it just doesn't exist. It's not. I know we want to do it and we're like, but we want it to be like real life.

And I think that's another reason why a lot of stories today are failing is because they're they're trying to do too much in the story as opposed to understanding that stories are a very limited medium.

Yes, at this I so agree that there is so many stories that have got so much plot jammed into the I call them overstuffed plotlines.


You've taken so much plot and jammed it in there and I keep saying this is one of the things with rings of power that I felt as well like there was at least one storyline too many in that thing, at least one.

At least.

Yeah. But the problem is there was just too much going on and so nothing had time. Yeah, right. So either they needed less storylines or they needed to not forge the rings in that season because that was part of the problem. Yeah, it was all too fast and, and you got to give these things time to breathe. If I compare this with Blue Eyed Samurai, there three main characters, three storylines, that's it.

And it worked in the same amount of episodes because. They kept the storylines simple enough to work. Each storyline got the screentime it needed.

Yeah, I mean as insane as the realm sounds when I tell people there's eight TV characters, I also I'm doing it over 20 novels. Yeah, so I get that eight is a lot, but I give them the time that each one of them can grow and breathe in and all of that. I have to chew last things and the one is the last.

So anything that have come up on you that you want to write. So I think another big mistake that people make with the endings falls in the convenience of making the ending too easy for the reader, too easy for the character, too easy, you know? And it's not just us. It's so many people have said this Never take your first idea.

Like if you're presented with a problem in your story, don't go, this is I'm going to fix it. And then do that, because more than likely subconsciously, you've just picked the cliche way that's been done thousands of other times and other stories that you've read and you just didn't realize it. Here's here's the biggest this is a little off shoot, but it's kind of it was freaky weird.

So my history with harn world. I found Horn World back in the back of Dragon magazine, the small Canadian company, and it seemed like a really cool, really well detailed out world. And so I started ordering it. It was just a campaign world. I was 12, 13, somewhere on in there. But back then it was very feudal. It didn't have a lot of magic.

It didn't have a lot of monsters. And so when I took it to my friends that played d&d they were like, I don't want to play in that world and I want to play in a world that's basically just peasants and feudal systems and all that. But I kept buying it because it was really cool. And then I bought everything they had and then life went on.

It's all just sitting over there on my shelf. And then about three or four or five ago, they started kickstarting new versions of their old stuff, but as hardbacks. So like this. And I was like, you know what? I already own everything that they have. I read it back when I was 12. I haven't read it since then, but whatever, I'll throw 50 bucks at it.

And so that's exactly what happened. The book would come in and I would go, Ooh, nostalgia. And I would flip through. I wouldn't read anything. I just flipped through and go, wow, look what They updated the maps and the art and, that's really cool. And then I put it on the shelf. Four years later, five years later, now I'm working for them.

And it was really weird conversation to have with them because they were like, you know, we know you're a huge fan of ours. I'm like, Well, I mean, I throw a lot of money at you. Like, I haven't read this stuff since I was 12 or 13, so I'm going through work on this story and I have, you know, I'm sending them this stuff as I'm writing it to the dev team so they can because I want to be one.

Or is that canon? As we said on a couple episodes, it's really easy if you get hired to write in an IP like Star Wars or Marvel whatever, just do two things. Don't break canon and write a good story. And honestly, you really don't.

I would say it's really, really, really hard in Marvel and Star Wars to do that because of the volume, right? And which version of Canon We're on.

Right? I get that. But anyway, so I had written the word week and the thing comes back and they haven't read my stuff like the Genesis saga or anything like that. But it came back and they were like, we don't use we use ten day. And I was like, Are you serious? Because I use ten day in the Genesis saga.

Now I'm going, Did I make that up like I thought I did.

No, you probably didn't. So the Fringe.

Cicely Stew from when I was 12.

I don't know if you stole it from them. But I'll tell you something. The French after the French Revolution, tried to use a ten day instead of a week. It didn't stick.

The reason why I created it when I was working on the calendar for it is I just didn't want to deal with with math. And so every month is 30 days long. Every day, you know, every week is ten days long. Like I just didn't want to deal with it. And then when I was trying to name it, I was just like, I could come up, I don't want to call it a week because that would be confusing because everyone think it's seven days when it's actually ten.

But I sure don't want to come up with like a name, like a or, you know, a belleek or whatever. And so that's why I was just well, there's ten days and it's always call it a ten day. So, I mean, I, I legitimately make it up and this was 20 years after I read Harn World, but it was just weird that.

So my point in going down that rabbit hole is I promise you every idea that you think that you're being so clever with probably already exist somewhere out there. Like even if you think it's unique, it it's shocking when you run into something like that.

So you just think this you think these are like I've had people comment at the bottom of my world building channel on on the videos and so like that magic system that you put in there, that's my magic system. I'm like, Well, no, see, that's the thing. Like, yeah, these, this knowledge that all have like it's everybody's knowledge.

Nobody is stealing from anybody here. Yeah. You know, you're stealing from somebody if you like directly copy those ideas and those characters and those things. Yeah. Not like, not when you amorphously absorb Elements of a magic system.

Yeah, I mean, that's the thing. It's just. That's why it always breaks my heart when I'm in a writer's conference and I meet somebody there where I haven't started writing yet, I'm waiting to come up with that unique idea. It's like honey. Yeah. That's not how this.

Works in your heart.

Yeah, that's not how this works. It's. And that's why in Dynamic Story Creation, I have that chapter called Spaghetti, and I just talk about it's not about coming up with your own ingredients. It's about mixing the existing ingredients different than anybody else. That's really what you're trying to do. So that that to bring it back to here, it's about it's about convenience.

So you talked about I mean, like some of the really horrible ones are and then the hero dies and wakes up in their bedroom and realizes the whole thing was a dream. Like.

You want to see me throw a book across the room? Give me that as the ending.

Yeah. Or The Wizard of Oz. You know the answer was inside of you the whole time. And that's great for a children's book that was written back in the thirties. Yeah, not good for today. So basically the last thing I want to talk about, other than the ending of this, is, is just that if it feels easy I mean, I say this all the time in class, if you run into a problem that takes you weeks to figure out how to get past, those are going to be the most memorable moments in your story.

Because remember, the audience gets to overcome that in minutes. They just get to read through it. And so they're going to go, My goodness, this author is so brilliant to have come up with this thing that I like because they get there, they get to the same spot you got to and they go, I have no idea how the character survives this.

Like, there's no way. And that was the spot that you got it to where you were like, well, there's no way they're going to survive like they're not. And so you spend three or four weeks instead of being lazy and just rewriting it and going, you know, just not letting that happen. You spend three or four weeks to figure out how to get them out of it.

You come up with this amazingly clever way that takes a lot of time to figure out. But the readers don't get that. They just see the instant happening. So they just assume that the writer puked the words out. And that's why I would say genius isn't written. Genius is edited. So don't go with convenience. Convenience is your enemy.

If it is easy, it is probably bad. It's just kind of the easiest way to say it, and that's the way it should feel with your ending. If you're ending really easy for you to come up with, more than likely it's going to be a bad ending. It's just not going to be impactful to the audience. And then where I wanted to actually end this is how do we tell if we've been successful?

And what I always say is you can't you're not allowed the author. That's the biggest mistake overall that every author makes of every step of the creation process. In my opinion, they allow themselves to decide if this character is good, this scene is good, this story is good, This this sentence is good, This plot device is good. You don't get to decide any of that as the you don't get to decide if it's good.

You can decide that you like it, but that doesn't mean that it's actually the right thing. The only people that have that ability are other readers, which is why you have to be in a critique group. You have to have beta readers, you have to test this stuff out because I don't care how much you love what you just did, if everyone else in the world hates it, you have failed and you will swallow your pride and you will rewrite

it because it doesn't matter that you liked it. You're Not writing for yourself. If you're writing for yourself, that's fine. And some people do write for themselves. Great. Then write for yourself. Don't shove that crap to the rest of the world. Write for yourself, Enjoy your stories. You know, maybe make your spouse suffer through having to read it, even though they hate it.

But they won't tell you that because they love you. But just write for yourself. If you are going to write for other people, then you have to swallow your pride and you have to realize you don't get to choose whether it's successful or not. That 100% comes from others. And the pushback I always get from that because I love still manning my own arguments is people will say, But you're wrong because I'm an artist and I'm writing, you know, it's the art.

The pushback is, yeah, except for the permanent reviews that you'll get on Amazon that are all one stars that say, You suck, that are there for the rest of eternity. They do not come down. So you can think you're awesome all you want, but once you gather a gaggle of one star reviews on Amazon, your career is over.

At least for that name and that book and and all of that. So again, you don't get to decide because at the end of the day, somebody else is.

Yep, I completely agree with that. And now for something completely different, how do you write the ending sentence?

So for me it's really easy. I just write t h, e e and d That's my last sentence. Now,

I don't like. I know that's on our list. Our producer Mo'Nique, who is awesome, gives us a list of questions. I don't I mean, how do you write the last I don't know if there's an answer to that.

So I look at it in the same way as I look at the opening sentence of my book. So the opening sentence of my book, the first thing the reader reads, I want that to be something that hooks them. But B also like, like especially with Sang Will, with the actual epic fantasy, the slave attacks that I start, I started with a sentence that that's like basically says no one knows what's behind the wheel right there.

It's this whole philosophical concept, but no one knows what's behind them. So when I write the last, I wanted to call back to that and kind of like close that loop around if I can, I don't know that that is always possible in every single, you know, write book or whatever. But I like to think of it as closing the question that you asked with the opening sentence.

And, you know, since you said that this is probably it's probably going to be different for every story, every writer, every everything, because for me, I don't really care about how the story started. But I do want because all of my stories, it's dark of a writer saying all of my stories are feel good stories. I don't write tragedy even though I'm a tragic, dark, artsy writer.

A lot of tragedy happens during the story, but I don't write tragedies. I've never written a tragedy. I don't want even even this story that I'm writing for Harn world, which is literally a city where everyone dies, everyone dies. In the story that I'm writing, I still feel that it's a feel good story at the end. And so that's what I try to do.

The last I don't know if I do it in the last sentence, but definitely the last paragraph should give the reader a feel good feeling. It should make them want to walk away. Because again, you know, in my bar jokes, I say I'm trying to make people want to be better human beings. So my closing of all my stories are that last moment to make you emotionally want to take the lessons you learned from the story and apply them to your life.


So last sentence. I don't know. I Don't really, because I also.

You know, sentence last sentence is probably a bit to exaggerate, but the last paragraph, the last like I want you to close.

Without pains, whatever Yeah, yeah. So that's my last moment is in every story is that moment where I, I'm trying to make sure that you walk out with a good feeling that makes you want to apply the lessons that you learned in your own actual life.


Now, this is the beginning, but it's also why I've never gave a crap about the opening line of of a story. So everybody is, you know, that opening sentence has to be X, Y, z. I've never even when I was in the publishing industry, I've never cared about the opening sentence. I care about the opening half a page like.

That's what I care about. Does that mean that maybe there were some agents that would have passed me over because I don't have this blow you away? Opening sentence. Maybe, But I don't care because I'm not writing for an agent. I'm writing for a reader. And so I want to hook the reader in that opening moment of the story.

And this the same thing about the ending. So I'm not a sentence writer. I don't want a beautiful sentence as. My opening sentence. It blows your way. Not, I'm not saying don't do that, because again, the industry pushes out a lot. You're opening sentences. The most important and I agree with that, if you're trying to get an agent on the hook.

But for me, it's that first paragraph or two. Do I hope you in the first paragraph or two and it's the same thing at the end of the story. Do I make you want to be a better person with the last paragraph or two? So that's why the question was last line of your story, because that's like, I don't care about the first line of my story.

Why would I care about the last line of my story? Yeah, So we do have a question.

And the peanut gallery says, so does that mean that you are basically making sure the actual writing, that it's clear to the reader that it's the end without writing End? Yes, absolutely. I want that at the end. At the bottom is there just to like put a bow on it. I want the reader to feel like the story has concluded and.

They are happy.

Yeah. You should not have to write the word the end. If you when you set up the plot, the external stakes, the plot you showed the reader at the beginning what they were going to be, and then at the end they could answer, Yes, this was solved. No, it can't be solved because, you know, it was a tragedy.

You've set up the internal stakes for the character at the beginning of the story. And at the end you've got that binary choice. Yes, that's happened. No, it you know, it can't happen. And then the somatic elements and again, the elements and more subtext that you still set it up at the beginning and at the end, the audience should be able to say and as long like that's what in the story for the audience, those binary choices, those three binary choices on those three levels, can they go?

Answered, Answered, answered. Check, check, Check. Stories. Story is over. Like that's how they should know which that you should is superfluous.

I will say I do appreciate an author who takes a little bit after everything has been resolved. You know, if it's the end of a series to actually give me that's happy, I'm happy moment. Right?

That's the return or what we did the episode on the falling action, that's.


Yelling action 100%. We absolutely give the reader time to kind of revel in what they just did.


But they know the story is because every single one of those three levels have been checked. Yes, we introduced it and we checked it off. Yeah, that's really it. And then it doesn't the words, the end doesn't matter. They're just kind of like the.

It's like putting a period at the end of the scene.

Yep. That's all it is. It's done. I mean, even without a period at the end of a sentence, you know, the sentence is over.

And I think that that is a good place to end this podcast.

It's a good place to put our period. Bye.

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