This is it, the end of the story, now we have to tie it all together by showing the new normal
What is the new normal
The new normal is a short scene that shows what the hero’s life will be like from now on. This shows the reader what has really changed in the character’s world. Without this scene, the story will feel incomplete and rushed. The falling action scene won’t bring the tension down completely. You need to show the new normal.
In Inside Out the new normal is Riley playing hockey again. This is an important scene because it shows that she has now adjusted to life in San Fransisco and answers a question earlier in the movie.
In the Lego Movie, the new normal is shown when the man upstairs is playing alongside his son. We see how the rules of Bricksburg have changed.
Showing the new normal
Before you start this scene, make sure you have answered all questions and all the subplots finished (unless you saved one for this scene)
Make sure you write a complete scene
If you are writing in deep POV this is especially important. Make sure your character still has goals and even conflict. (Only this time, the conflict is minor)
ex. your POV character is sitting at the breakfast table and little brother is still hogging all the syrup.
Avoid exposition and telling
Summarization is fine for the transition, but you need to end with an actual scene, otherwise, your ending will feel rushed. This is especially important in deep POV. You cannot just say, “and they lived happily ever after.” You must show it.
Hints for closing scenes
Replay the opening scene but now showing everything that has changed. This can work for stories that have huge changes in setting. A hero may have started the story eating breakfast alone and ended with a new family. The movie Shawn of the Dead used the technique to great effect by showing Shawn’s slacker roommate who, despite becoming a zombie, had exactly the same life as before the story began.
In this ending, a reoccurring theme from the book re-emerges in a twist. Ex. a character who can never find his keys realizes they were in his pocket the whole time.
In Inside Out, Riley, who was struggling with the move, had decided to quit hockey. In the final scene, we see that she has started playing again. This works because it answers the question raised in the subplot and it also demonstrates that Riley has adjusted to her new life.
The Lego Movie uses this device by having the Duplo aliens invade. This works because it demonstrates the true feelings of the son at learning that his sister will also be allowed to play in Bricksburg.
Be careful with this one. There is nothing more annoying than a hackneyed cliffhanger attempt. Don’t chop your story in half trying to get people to buy the sequel. If you have strong enough characters, people will continue to follow them. Every novel should be a complete story.
When is it really over?
Writing an ending line can be just as frustrating as the opening line. You will likely change it half-a-dozen times in the editing. Ending lines must tie everything up and give the reader a sense of finality. In your draft, just stop when the scene naturally ends. As you reread the right place to end will usually present itself.
Congratulations, you have finished NaNoWriMo
If you’ve followed this plot guide, you will have a solid, logical plot that won’t take as much time to edit. Let it rest for a few weeks before you begin. Now go get your winner’s goodies.
Final scenes don’t have to be difficult or boring. This is the best part of the draft. Show your hero’s new world and how she will live in it. You’ve finished. Now type “The End.”
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