Wednesday, June 6, 2012

20 Ways to End Your Book

Stephen Covey, author of the incredibly popular leadership and time management “bible”, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, made famous the saying, “Begin with the end in mind.” And that, my friend, is what you must do when writing your book: begin with the end in mind.

Whether yours is a book about how to start a daycare center, a memoir recounting your years living in Beijing, or a spiritual guide through the practice of yoga, taking the time at the start of your writing journey to consider how you might wrap up your fantastic story will become one of the biggest favors you’ve ever done for yourself. I coach my clients and students to develop three logical endings to their books; three possible ways to wrap up the content they’ve outlined in my super simple outlining system that I teach (it totally works for any kind of book and authors LOVE it!). As the content of the book unfolds, inevitably one of those three endings will become the obvious choice. Oh sure, most authors wind up making some adjustments to the initial description, but always, as the writing progresses, it leads to one of the endings, making wrapping up the book a much simpler and enjoyable experience.

So then, the obvious question is how to develop the three endings. Here are a few to consider depending on your book’s genre. Using your creativity, you might be able to apply endings across genres, so stay open to possibilities:

Memoir and Autobiography
1. list of lessons learned
2. how it all changed you
3. reunion with someone mentioned earlier in the book
4. twist of fate
5. birth (because after all, death can be a downer!

How-To and Self-Help
6. recount the main points
7. application of the main points
8. success story of you, a client/customer or a celebrity
9. poll or survey results
10. case study or in-depth testimonial

11. reveal the hidden character (murderer, benefactor)
12. girl gets guy or vice versa (it’s overdone, but still wildly popular)
13. suspicion (leave readers hanging; allow them to decide what happens next or whodunnit; great way to make room for a sequel)
14. return of a character assumed lost, dead or otherwise removed
15. destruction, death, loss or termination

Spiritual and Motivational
16. how the insight or revelation can be applied
17. examples of popular/famous missed opportunities
18. results of others who have used the methods described in your book
19. potential outcomes of not doing what’s taught
20. why and how you continue to practice the principles mentioned in your book

Select three possible endings for your book. Describe them in as much detail as you can; this should take about a page or two each. Then, set them aside as you craft the content for your book. These endings will become a welcome support when you encounter writer’s block. Read through each ending and take the time to determine if your writing thus far is leading you in one specific direction or if what you’ve written has taken you completely off track. 

Trust the process and have fun with it!

How will you know when/how to wrap up your book?


Anita Paul, known as The Author's Midwife, coaches aspiring authors to write a phenomenal book and helps current authors use their existing books to leverage their business. She is the author of Write Your Life: Create Your Ideal Life and the Book You've Been Wanting to Write, and is the creator of the Write Your Life program, through which she has created a dynamic system to Write Your Book in 90 Days or Less. She has owned The Write Image for 15 years, and has had her freelance articles featured in over 25 publications in the U.S. and Canada. Anita is also the host of "Book Your Success".

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