How to End Your Story

Amy Tan

Lesson time 13:20 min

Learn how to craft an engaging and satisfying ending that will keep readers looking forward to the sequel.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: A Good Ending Is Like a New Beginning • Provide Necessary Clarity • Know When to End • Right Endings and False Beginnings • Parting Words


[MUSIC PLAYING] - You find yourself moving toward the end. And you know it probably is the end because it has meaning. And the meaning keeps growing until it is self-evident that this is what the story has meant all along. I hesitate to tell you what you should do with your ending because it is one of the most exciting things you can do in the end. And you will know it. Sometimes, what's happened to me in the past is I will get to a point where I'm 50 pages from the end. And suddenly, I know that direction. And I can race ahead. And I still don't know exactly what the end is going to be. But I know the direction. And I'm waiting to get there because I'm going to be just as surprised as the other person who is reading the book. And I get there. And it's an exhilarating moment. You have a feeling usually of incredible satisfaction. Well, of course, you're elated because you're finally done. But it is that understanding of the story and in part of yourself that you've discovered something new. [MUSIC PLAYING] Most endings in novels, in fact, in some of the greatest novels, the ones that have won the prizes, you'll find that the endings are really more about new beginnings. You have a sense of, an understanding of, you know, this character has knowledge now. The character's not confused. You get the sense that what it's come to is inevitable but not predictable. It's predictable if you forced it in a certain direction. I think about certain endings, for example, one that is the happy ending, but it still works. And I give you this example to know there are no rules. You can still make up the way it works for you as long as you know the reasons why it works. It would be in "Jane Eyre." And she reaches the end. And she sees this love of her life. And he's blind. And the house is burnt. And she says, the very last line, "Reader, I married him." That's the happy ending in Hollywood. But for her, it's the signal of the new beginning. She is now in control. And that's what that-- the meaning of that story is. She has taken control of fate. "Reader, I married him." So it'll take you to a place. And you know there's the potential now for this life to continue. And I think that's very important because it's as though now you see in a different way. And you, the writer, you, the person, anybody in life is going to take that knowledge. And they're going to go a new way. Maybe it's the same way but with a new sense of who they are. That's why I think it's important to understand that these transformations, these transitions, are not the end. It is the end of the story because you don't have more pages. But it's never the end of what the story really is. [MUSIC PLAYING] You know, in film, I think you often see movies where suddenly it's as if the clouds are removed. And you see some ending. Usually, because it's commercial, it has to be happy, you know. The clarity is in something like a reunion, a reco...

About the Instructor

Amy Tan was 33 before she first explored her voice as a fiction author. A few years later, her debut novel, The Joy Luck Club, spent 40 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. Now she’s showing you her approach to the challenges and joy of self-discovery through writing. Learn how to craft compelling beginnings and endings, find your voice, and embrace your emotional memory to bring powerful narratives to life.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Amy Tan

The celebrated author shares her approach to voice, story, and the craft of bringing narratives to life from beginning to end.

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