Updated: Nov 2, 2021
Imagine you’re practising for the PSLE and are now well into your Continuous Writing Paper.
You’ve worked on improving your composition writing skills all year, continuously drilling the techniques you’ve been learning. You’ve used a plot graph and planned out your composition well. You’re also confident that your story is well-developed and will keep the readers on the edge of their seats. Finishing off the paragraph for your story’s climax and you start staring at the next line on your paper.
How do I end the story? You wonder. Eh, no matter what – your storyline should be good enough to score pretty well. You scribble out a one-liner ending to your story and put the pen down.
Why Strong Endings are Important
The above scenario happens fairly often – particularly when kids run out of time or ideas.
After all, the PSLE marking scheme gives you points for the good development of ideas and your ability to hold the reader’s interest.
That means after putting all that work into writing a good story, you want the ending to be just as memorable to score the most points.
What NOT to Do When Ending Your Story
There are quite a few ways to write a good ending to your story, so let’s begin with what a good ending shouldn’t do:
DON’T: Introduce a New Character / Plotline
Since it’s the ending, you definitely don’t want to introduce any new characters or story arcs. Sadly, a 120- to 150-word primary school composition isn’t the same as a 3-hour Marvel movie: you don’t have time to put in a post-credits scene and give the reader a taste of the next movie that’s coming.
Instead, readers need a sense of closure. What happened to the main characters? Does the story have a happy or sad ending? Does the protagonist (or antagonist) learn anything, or is he/she just stuck in old habits?
DON’T: Leave Any Loose Ends
Once you’ve taken the story to the point of tension (i.e., the climax), you want this to be satisfactorily resolved.
For example, if the topic was about a challenge the protagonist had to overcome, talk about how the protagonist got through it and what happened on subsequent occasions.
If it was about a memorable birthday, talk about how the day was salvaged (if at all) and perhaps whether the protagonist remembers it with fondness or with anger.
The point is that the story needs to be able to stand by itself and link back to the given topic. Don’t leave any cliffhangers, since you won’t be writing any sequels here 😉
DON’T: End the Story in a Single Sentence
As we mentioned in our article on developing good plots, you don’t want your rising action, climax, and falling action to take place within a single paragraph. Likewise, your ending should not merely be a single sentence.
That means cliched endings like “David learnt his lesson and turned over a new leaf” are a BIG no-no. That said, we typically see this happening when students are pressed for time. The main way to eliminate this problem is to practise writing compositions under exam conditions: that is, timed and in silence.
Checklist for Good Endings
To sum all of that up, here’s a checklist you can go through:
But let’s see how all that plays out in an example.
Model Ending (Using the Checklist Above)
Topic: Telling a Lie
Problem: Raphael accidentally damages school property, then lies to his teacher about it to avoid being punished
Side note: This also uses the Show, Not Tell technique to help you visualize what the protagonist was doing as he reflected on his actions and the lesson he’d learnt.
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