Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Let’s Look at Satisfying Endings and a Giveaway

by Suzy Leopold

Writers who study the craft of writing children’s literature understand the importance of satisfying endings for picture books.

A good ending should satisfy the reader with delight and include an Aww!, Aah!, or Ha!

As a gardener on the Illinois Prairie, my husband Perry and I strive for a satisfying ending to the garden season. However, before the bountiful harvest is achieved, there is much to do. The first steps include planning and planting for the spring gardening season. This is the beginning. As days become warmer, seeds begin to sprout. Roots dig deep and shoots peek through the soil. Flowers and vegetables grow reaching for warm rays of sun. Watering and weeding take place to encourage strong, healthy plants. All of this care becomes the middle part of our garden story. Garden chores continue and time passes. Finally, the satisfying ending produces fresh garden goodness. This becomes our ending of Aww!
Beginning
Middle
Ending
Just like a gardener, a writer must plan and prepare to achieve a final outcome—a satisfying ending. There are many important elements to consider when writing stories for children. 

For more thoughts about story beginnings with an opening line to hook a reader, click here for a post I wrote in March.

The most common fiction and nonfiction plot structure follows a problem/solution or rise/fall structure. This structure incorporates a beginning, middle, and ending.

Through action, dialogue, obstacles, and challenges, the main character solves a problem and answers questions that were raised during the story. A good ending shares a resolution. The takeaway may be fun, heart warming, surprising, or new learning. The ending shouldn’t be rushed, nor should it drag on. The reader needs to feel satisfied and pleased.

Satisfying endings may circle back to the hook at the beginning of the story. This technique ties the ending with the beginning.


“Come full circle, or bookend your book.
By ending your manuscript with a concept, word, 
or phrase from the beginning, 
you create an appealing, elegant symmetry.”
—Lisa D. Kerr

Sometimes writers like to review the main ideas in a story and remind the reader of important takeaway facts. This is a great technique for nonfiction stories. 

Let’s take a look at a picture book with nonfiction facts.


IF POLAR BEARS DISAPPEARED 
written and illustrated by Lily Williams
Roaring Brooks Press, 2018
Beginning
“This is the Arctic. It’s an ecosystem in the far northern region of the globe. Few animals call this land home. The ones that do live here are strong, tough, slow, and ... ”
Ending
“The best way for you to help is to learn everything you can about climate change and how it affects environments like the Arctic. Taking action will lessen its devastating effects.

And maybe we will find that the answer to saving polar bears ...

Has been right in front of us all along.”


Here’s one more example:

MAYBE:
A STORY ABOUT THE ENDLESS POTENTIAL IN ALL OF US
written by Kobe Yamada; illustrated by Gabriella Barouch 
Compendium, Inc. 2019

Beginning
“Have you ever wondered why you are here?”

Ending
“One thing is for sure, you are here.
And because you are here ...

... anything is possible.”


Now it is time to review one of your manuscripts or two. Examine the ending of your WIP. Revise and polish the story to include an Aww! Aah! or Ha!

In the comments below write an outstanding ending from a recently published fiction or nonfiction book to be eligible to win a bookmark. If you follow the instructions, I’ll put your name in a hat and draw two winners. Each winner will receive a hand crafted bookmark painted with watercolors. 
U. S. Mail only.

I will announce the lucky winners on the next GROG Blog on May 20th. Good luck!

1. Write an ending that left you with a feeling of satisfaction.
2. Include the title of the book, the author, the illustrator, and the publication date [2015-2020].

27 comments:

  1. Loved this post today!
    The ending from Beth Ferry's The Bold Brave Bunny -
    “We’re lucky!” said the littlest bunny. “Lucky you belong to us.”
    And Teetu realized he was lucky too.
    Because . .
    B was for brave.
    B was for bold.
    B was for belonging.
    And there was nothing better than that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And B is for beautiful.

      Thank you, Kim, for sharing this beautiful ending for THE BOLD BRAVE BUNNY.

      Delete
  2. Great post full of great examples and a call to examine mentor texts. I enjoyed reading this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Kathy, for reading and sharing this GROG Blog post.

      Warmly,
      Prairie Garden Girl

      Delete
  3. Thanks, Suzy, for another great post. Studying other books as mentor texts is always illuminating.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For sure, Sue! Studying published books supports writers.

      Thank you.
      Sue aka Suzy

      Delete
  4. Thanks so much, Suzy, for the helpful glimpse into these books. I found your post inspiring, as usual!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Chris. Your many published books inspire me and are valuable mentor texts.

      Suzy

      Delete
  5. Thank you for the excellent craft post and mentor texts to add to my 'list'! I love the ending in Vivian Kirkfield's SWEET DREAMS, SARAH, ill. by Chris Ewald (2019): "Staring at her name in print, Sarah proudly traced each letter. Her idea, her invention, her name in history. She had built more than a piece of furniture. She had built a life far away from slavery, a life where her sweet dreams could come true." Suzy- I'd rather not post my email here. Perhaps you might reconsider just announcing your 'winners' in your May 20 post...to protect privacy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear C. Sheer:

      SWEET DREAMS, SARAH is an outstanding picture book example with an ending that comes full circle. Thank you for sharing.

      Your suggestion to reconsider posting an email address in a comment is understood. I already made an adjustment to the requirements to enter the giveaway.

      Sincerely,
      Suzy

      Delete
  6. Thanks for the post, Suzy. It's a great reminder of story structure. For me, beginnings are the hardest!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Michelle!

      Thank you for being a follower of the GROG Blog. All the best with writing beginnings that hook a reader followed by a satisfying ending.

      Suzy

      Delete
  7. Great post. I love the very funny How To Walk An Ant by Cindy Derby. It cracks me up. But the ending line of the story is "Step Nine, Celebrate when you reach your goal." Perfect for every single day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Angie!

      HOW TO WALK AN ANT is an excellent example of an outstanding ending.

      Thank you for sharing.

      Suzy

      Delete
  8. I was introduced to some new books today, Suzy. Thanks. And I love the gardening analogy, a subject y'all are well acquainted with.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Sherri. Happy writing. Happy gardening.

      #writemorewords #plantmoreseeds

      Delete
    2. P. S. Happy reading.

      #readmorebooks

      Delete
  9. Suzy, I loved your gardening analogy and the yummy garden ending. Thank you for reminding us to find the Aww, Aah, Ha moment in our stories. Happy gardening-always love your endings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Happy reading, writing, and creating, Cute Charlotte.

      Prairie Garden Girl

      Delete
  10. "Perhaps," he said, his mouth full of cake. "Yes, perhaps I shall try to deliver this again tomorrow."
    The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas Ill: Erin E. Stead. 2016

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This dialogue is such an intriguing ending. Thank you, Trine.

      Suzy

      Delete
  11. Hi Suzy - so many great picture books out there now. Here is an ending I happen to love.
    "I also thought, he had the most beautiful horse of anyone, anywhere."
    Adrian Simcox Does Not Have a Horse by Marcy Campbell, Illustrated by Corianna Luyken Published 2018
    ebsaba@cox.net

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for introducing me to a new title, Elizabeth.

      I miss requesting books from our library during this unprescedented time.

      Suzy

      Delete
  12. I just did a post about beginnings. But I think endings can be as important as beginnings. The ending is the last impression a book leaves with you. Sorry, I can't think of an ending right now. But I would like to say that I have one of your bookmarks and they are beautiful. In fact they inspired me to make some for my books. I'm not as good at watercolor as you are, but I love using watercolor pencils.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your comment is appreciated, Janet.

      Continue to read, write, and create. Enjoy creating with watercolor pencils.

      Suzy

      Delete
  13. very sweet ! Have you considered a launch strategy for your book ? https://honestbookreview.com helps gather reviews for your book, gain visibility and traction. Would you like a book trailer ? I can do one for free.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Love the idea of Aww, Ah, or Ha! And I also liked the analogy to the garden. Great post!

    ReplyDelete