I'm nearing the end of my story, and I'm trying to tie it all together. I've read books that are great, but when you come to the ending, it's extremely disappointing because nothing in the ending connects to anything in the earlier story. But in some stories, it all ties together so you think "ohh, that's why they put that! This is amazing it fits perfectly." I don't want my writing to end up like the former, so I was wondering if anyone has any tips to help avoid that.

2 Answers 2


I am a discovery writer, meaning I don't plot out the story before I start writing. I write the first quarter of the story without knowing the plot or the ending.

Discovery writing is character oriented writing. I plan my main characters out, and before I begin writing, I generally know them very well; I will walk around for weeks figuring out my characters.

Using the 3-Act structure, I divide the story into four equal parts, Act 1, Act 2-a, Act 2-b, Act 3.

Act 1 is split into two parts, roughly equal. The first part introduced my protagonist, other main characters, dealing with some everyday problems so you get to know them. It ends with the inciting incident, a new problem, that will eventually grow to dominate the story.

I usually know the characters and the inciting incident before I begin writing.

In the second half of Act 1, they try to solve this problem, but fail, and it grows, until the protagonist is forced to leave her "Normal World", either physically or metaphorically, in order to solve the problem. (For an example of the latter,metaphorically leaving her Normal World, suppose by the end of Act 1 she discovers her boss is not who she thought he was, but is actually a criminal, and has implicated her in his crimes -- She can no longer be his obedient assistant now, she knows what he is and must find a way to protect herself and get away from him without ruining her life. She is not physically leaving, but her Normal World will no longer do.)

After that ... I don't know what I am going to write. The characters are fleshed out enough that to me they feel like real people, I can "become" them, and they will make the best decisions they can with the information they have and act accordingly. I don't force them to do anything (but I won't let them stand still for long, they must make decisions and do something).

And, as Stephen King says (also a Discovery writer), "the story will come out somewhere." (In his case, writing horror, it is often a bloody and horrific case, but I don't write horror).

For the ending, by the end of Act I, I usually have an idea for the possible ending, based on what has transpired so far.

I write down a description of that ending, just a paragraph basically, and when I am writing I don't write anything that would contradict it or make it implausible.

However, my experience after completing several stories is that my original choice of ending will change 4 or 5 times before I finish the story. I think of better endings as the story evolves and comes to light.

When that happens (I think of a better ending, and want that more than my original ending), I go back through my entire story up to that point, and look to see how much needs to change to support the new ending. I mark stuff in the text that doesn't work with the new ending, using something easily searchable, like "&&&" that isn't going to appear in any normal text.

If the change is feasible (it usually is if I don't have to scrap any chapters), then I will search for those marks and rewrite. That's my new ending, and it all ties together.

And I will do it again if I think of an even better ending!

Discovery writing involves a lot of rewriting, at least for me.

I'm not the only one: When Stephen King was writing "The Stand", he hit a plot impasse that blocked him for weeks. He thought he was losing the novel. The only way he could think of to resolve it: He scrapped the last two hundred pages he had written (months of work and almost a novel in itself!), and had the villain kill half of all the "good guy" characters with a bomb, and then took off in a new direction to finish the novel.

My endings always tie everything together, because I rewrite, three and four times, to make sure the ending will do that.

A huge advantage of being the author is you can "time travel", once you think of a cool surprise, you can go back through the book and subtly justify that surprise with little sprinkles and comments; change reality to fit it, in ways the reader (or viewer in a screenplay) probably will not notice.

In one story I was writing, already in Act 3, I realized that the coolest ending would be if there were a traitor in the main group of protagonists.

And I rewrote dozens of passages throughout the book to make it possible that one of them was a traitor, and was discovered in the middle of Act 3, the main protagonist figured out all the clues (I had just written) that had occurred over many months in her timeline, and they all made sense! There was only one logical conclusion!

That's one way you can tie the plot of your story together in the end -- Time Traveling Rewrite!


I'm going to disappoint you greatly.

This is generally something you should have figured out before you even start writing. There's little you can do to shoehorn an all-threads-tying ending into a story when you haven't been purposefully guiding the threads in the right direction all along.

And if you force them at the last moment, what you get is likely to be worse than an ending flowing wide like a delta. Contrived, unbelievable, not making sense.

The good news is that a delta-type ending can still be pretty good if you give a good climax to the main storyline. If you're trying to be realistic, it can even be better - endings with all threads tied in one knot tend to have "scripted fiction" written all over them.

If you really insist that you need to tie all the threads of a story that you've already written most of, then it's likely to mean lost and lots of going back and rewriting. Lots of redirecting the threads so that they will lead into the knot where you want them, gently, subtly, plausibly. Weeding out whole minor storylines that are irrelevant to your resolution. Maybe adding some that are.

No promise it will be worth the effort. No promise whether you can even do it.


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