The importance of a good ending

I went to the SCBWI London Agents Party this week - I'm not great at standy uppy drinks parties, even less great at pitching - in spite of all the excellent tips from Michelle earlier this week, the fabulous free 50 business cards from Moo (which I left at home) and a lovely SCBWI friend who'd gifted me a much better-pitch-than-mine on a plate (now there's an idea).

It was a great do, lovely agenty types - all enthusiastic and hungry for something wonderful. Judging by Twitter everyone had a great time and I look forward to reading about all those positive outcomes in our Saturday Celebrations. But was it at the agents party I learned about the importance of a good ending?


That was at The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Apollo Theatre that afternoon.

I had some birthday money to spend on a show so I picked up a bargain ticket a few rows from the front of the stalls ten minutes before curtain up. #rightplacerighttime

***Spoiler Alert***

It was great. The staging brilliantly represented the precise way that Christopher's mind worked, the acting was convincing especially Trevor Fox as the Dad and the story demonstrated wonderfully how the ordinary is really, extraordinary. Having said that, the play was not as great as the book which I loved. That is until the end.

Depending on your classification of spoiler, one may follow.

It was the puppy! When Christopher's dad brought the puppy out, I loved it! In a way it was a bit of a cheap trick but who cares, it was in the book and is the only resolution to the poor dead dog at the beginning. The cast reacted brilliantly to the cutest Andrex puppy you ever did see, the whole theatre aaaahed - everyone was smitten.  Then after the final curtain there was also a very satisfying bit of maths. I left the Apollo ready to watch the whole show all over again.

Isn't that how we, authors and illustrators, should leave our readers?

For fear of turning this post into spoiler city, do you have any endings that changed your feelings about a story? You don't have to say what happens...

This week we started a new month and a new theme - Diversity for Black History Month and our first post under that theme was Donna Vann's interview with one of our older members, Octengenarian and Jewish writer, Jose Patterson.  There was another cracking round up from Nick, including Mark Jones' latest post on Synopses - shock revelation from the Agents Party is that they're hardly read! 
Though many of you had already found our hidden page (linked to Agent Confidential) of excellent advice on choosing the right agent from the one and only Nicola Morgan, we thought it was so good we posted it again on Thursday. Friday signposted us to Anne Marie's great post on the Illustrator blog Big Little Tales and Saturday we celebrated with Bryony Pearce on the publication of her second novel.

In our box of delights next week, we have...

  • Celia & Annie's report on the Nosy Crow Conference!
  • Latest London Professional Series report!
  • A new Slushpile Challenge!
  • News from Central North!
  • Sara O' Connor!

And no apologies for the exclamation marks!
Now for the great ending...
Have fun,

Jan Carr

Jan Carr is the editor of Words & Pictures. Her fiction is older middle grade, she blogs occasionally and loves to write in magenta. You can contact her at


  1. It was a great evening wasn't it, Jan? I think you did brilliantly for someone who doesn't do standy-uppy. As for The Curious Incident, I'd love to see it again too so maybe we should go together.

  2. Thanks Jo:)
    Just spotted you missed my great ending - must have edited it out by accident.
    Back in now.

  3. Endings are tough, aren't they? It isn't every story where you can wheel out a puppy or kitten at the end (although there are some dystopian novels that would be greatly improved by doing that). I have a twist on the last page of my novel that - so far - seems to be working for readers, but that kind of thing can just as easily leave a bad taste in the mouth.

    1. For me, a satisfying ending is one that resolves the beginning - dead dog - puppy. So for a twist on the very last page I would look for some hint/foreshadowing of that, on the very first page.

    2. Yes, the kind of twist endings that annoy me are the ones that just throw in something completely unexpected just to say "Surprise!"

    3. Oh, to answer your question about endings that changed my opinion of a story, let me pick two examples from Marcus Sedgwick:
      White Crow - Terrific twist ending that completely validates the themes of the story while also leaving you with hope.
      Midwinterblood - Less terrific double twist ending that validates the themes of the story but also leaves you feeling depressed.


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