Exploring Different Types Of Short Story Endings

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You’re a writer, but you’re also an explorer. You crave the thrill of discovering new worlds, new characters, and new stories. And just like any great explorer, you know that the journey is just as important as the destination.

That’s why you’re always looking for new ways to tell your stories, new ways to keep your readers on the edge of their seats until the very end. And that’s where the ending comes in.

The ending is the destination of your journey, the final destination that your readers are waiting for. But just like any great destination, there are many different paths you can take to get there.

In this article, we’re going to explore some of the different types of short story endings, from the twist ending to the open ending, and help you choose the best one for your story.

So grab your compass and let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

  • A great ending is crucial in a short story, and the type of ending chosen depends on the theme and tone of the story.
  • Balancing closure and ambiguity is important to captivate readers, and too much closure can feel forced and unsatisfying in an abstract or open-ended story.
  • The emotional impact of the story should be considered when deciding how much closure to provide, and creating a twist can leave readers reeling and change their interpretation of the story.
  • Crafting a memorable ending requires a combination of vivid imagery and unexpected twists, such as using a reveal to create a sense of shock and make the ending more memorable.

The Twist Ending

Get ready for a mind-blowing finale because we’re diving into the world of twist endings. A twist ending is an unexpected and surprising conclusion to a story that changes the reader’s perception of the entire narrative.

Examples of twist endings in literature include ‘The Lottery’ by Shirley Jackson and ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ by Edgar Allan Poe. In ‘The Lottery,’ the twist ending reveals that the town’s annual lottery is actually a ritual sacrifice, while in ‘The Cask of Amontillado,’ the twist ending shows that the narrator has been leading his victim to his death all along.

The impact of a twist ending on character development can be significant. The sudden shift in the story can force characters to confront their own beliefs and actions, leading to a deeper understanding of themselves and others.

The twist ending can also challenge the reader’s assumptions about the characters and their motivations, forcing them to reevaluate their own perspectives. In short, a twist ending can add a layer of complexity and depth to a story that’s both entertaining and thought-provoking.

The Straightforward Resolution

By concluding the plot in a direct and clear manner, the straightforward resolution leaves little room for interpretation and emphasizes closure for the reader. This type of ending is best used when the reader needs emotional satisfaction and closure. It ties up loose ends and provides a sense of finality to the story.

One of the pros of a straightforward resolution is that it gives the reader a clear understanding of what happened and why. This type of ending is perfect for stories that are plot-driven and have a clear resolution. However, this type of ending can also be a con because it can be predictable and lack innovation.

It’s important to use this type of ending when it fits the story and the emotional needs of the reader. The impact on the reader can be significant as it provides emotional closure and satisfaction.

The Ambiguous Ending

The beauty of an ambiguous ending is its ability to leave the reader in a state of wonder, like a puzzle waiting to be solved. It’s a powerful tool used by writers to create an open-ended conclusion that sparks the reader’s imagination.

Exploring the different interpretations of an ambiguous ending can be an exciting journey that allows the reader to analyze the impact of leaving the story unresolved.

creating an unresolved ending that leaves the readers wondering
Creating an unresolved ending that leaves the readers wondering

The beauty of an ambiguous ending is that it can mean different things to different people. It leaves room for interpretation, and each reader can derive their own meaning from it. This type of ending can be frustrating for some, but for others, it’s the perfect way to end a story.

It allows the reader to think and ponder, to come up with their own solutions to the puzzle. An ambiguous ending is like a window into the reader’s mind, revealing their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. It’s a powerful tool that can leave a lasting impact on the reader, long after they’ve finished the story.

The Open Ending

So, you’ve come to learn about the open ending in short stories. It’s a type of ending that leaves you hanging, wondering what happens next. This ambiguity is what defines the open ending, and it’s usually characterized by the lack of closure or resolution.

Some famous short stories that employ this type of ending include ‘The Lady, or the Tiger?’ by Frank R. Stockton and ‘The Necklace’ by Guy de Maupassant.

But what effect does this type of ending have on readers? We’ll explore that too.

Definition and Characteristics

Exploring the different ways to end a short story is like exploring the depths of a vast ocean. Each type of ending has its own unique definition and characteristics, and understanding them is key to crafting a satisfying conclusion.

One such type of ending is the open ending, which leaves the reader with a sense of ambiguity and invites them to draw their own conclusions. The open ending is characterized by its lack of closure. Unlike other types of endings that provide a clear resolution, the open ending leaves the story open to interpretation.

This can be achieved through intentional ambiguity or by leaving loose ends untied. The narrative structure of an open ending is often non-linear, with the story jumping back and forth in time or between different perspectives.

The emotional impact of an open ending can be powerful, as it allows the reader to connect with the story on a deeper level by engaging their imagination and allowing them to come to their own conclusions.

Examples from Famous Short Stories

Delving into the ocean of short story conclusions is like navigating a maze. One example of an open ending can be found in Ernest Hemingway’s ‘Hills Like White Elephants.’ The story follows a couple who sit at a train station and discuss whether or not to have an abortion. The story ends without revealing the couple’s decision, leaving the reader to interpret the implications of their conversation.

Exploring the symbolism in the story, the ‘white elephants’ allude to the unwanted pregnancy, while the hills represent the obstacles and challenges that come with it. Hemingway’s use of an open ending allows the reader to imagine what happens next, making it a powerful tool to evoke emotion. The lack of closure leaves the reader with a sense of uncertainty, empathy, and even frustration.

Furthermore, exploring character development in the story reveals that the couple’s conversation reveals their true feelings and desires, without explicitly stating them. Hemingway’s use of dialogue and action creates a sense of intimacy between the reader and the characters, making the ending all the more impactful.

surfing the web and reading hills like white elephants
Surfing the web and reading Hills Like White Elephants

Analysis of its Effect on Readers

When you read a short story with an open ending, the emotional impact can be profound. As the story concludes without closure, you may feel a sense of uncertainty and empathy for the characters. The lack of a definitive conclusion allows you to imagine the implications of their actions and decisions, and this ambiguity can be both frustrating and rewarding.

The impact of an open ending on reader interpretation is significant, as it encourages you to actively engage with the story and to fill in the gaps with your own imagination. This creative interpretation can be a powerful tool for innovation, as it allows you to explore new ideas and possibilities.

Ultimately, the impact of an open ending on readers is unique and personal, as it depends on your own experiences and perspectives.

Choosing the Best Ending for Your Story

So, you’ve written a great short story but now you’re stuck on how to wrap it up. Choosing the best ending can be tricky, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, consider the theme and tone of your story and make sure the ending reflects that.

Second, balance closure and ambiguity to keep your readers satisfied but also intrigued.

And finally, use these tips to craft a memorable ending that will leave a lasting impact on your readers.

Considering the Theme and Tone

In exploring different types of short story endings, it’s important to keep in mind the theme and tone of the story, just like how a chef considers the flavor profile of a dish before adding the final touch of seasoning. Your chosen ending should be consistent with the mood and message of the story, and it should leave a lasting impression on the reader.

By considering the theme and tone, you can ensure that your story’s ending is both satisfying and memorable. The impact of choosing the right ending can be significant for the reader. A well-crafted ending can leave the reader feeling satisfied, reflective, or even emotional. Alternatively, a poorly executed ending can leave the reader feeling disappointed or confused.

As an author, it’s important to consider the role of your intent when choosing an ending. Your intentions can guide the story’s direction and help you choose an ending that will deliver the right message to your audience. By considering both the theme and tone of your story and your intentions as an author, you can create a powerful and impactful ending that will resonate with your readers.

Balancing Closure and Ambiguity

To truly captivate your readers, you must find a delicate balance between providing closure and leaving just enough ambiguity in your ending to keep them thinking about your story long after they’ve finished reading it.

The emotional impact of your story is crucial to consider when deciding how much closure to provide. If your story is particularly intense or emotional, your readers may need a more concrete ending to feel satisfied. However, if your story is more abstract or open-ended, providing too much closure may feel forced and unsatisfying.

writing a story that balances closure and ambiguity
Writing a story that balances closure and ambiguity

Reader interpretation is also an important factor to consider when exploring the balance between closure and ambiguity in short story endings. While it’s important to provide enough closure for your readers to understand the main events of your story, leaving some room for interpretation can enhance the reading experience.

Allowing your readers to draw their own conclusions and make their own connections can create a more engaging and thought-provoking story. Ultimately, finding the right balance between closure and ambiguity can be a challenging but rewarding task that can elevate your short story to the next level.

Tips for Crafting a Memorable Ending

Crafting a memorable ending requires that you immerse your readers in a vivid, sensory experience that leaves a lasting impression on their minds. To do this, you need to create a sense of closure while also crafting emotional impact. Here are two nested bullet point lists that can help you achieve this:

  • Use vivid imagery: Paint a picture in your reader’s mind with words that evoke the senses. Think about the smells, sounds, and textures you want to convey. Use descriptive language to create a scene that your readers can visualize.
  • For example, if your story takes place in a forest, describe the rustling of leaves, the scent of pine, and the dampness of the ground beneath their feet.
  • Create a twist: Craft an unexpected turn of events that will leave your readers reeling. This twist should be something that changes the reader’s interpretation of the story, or even the entire plot.
  • For example, you can end your story with a reveal that the protagonist was actually the antagonist all along. This will create a sense of shock and make the ending more memorable.

By following these tips, you can create an ending that will stick with your readers long after they finish your story. Remember to balance closure with emotional impact, and use vivid imagery and twists to create a lasting impression.


So, now that you’ve explored different types of short story endings, it’s time to choose the best one for your own story. Will you go for the twist ending, leaving your readers with their jaws dropped and minds blown?

Or will you opt for the straightforward resolution, giving your characters the closure they deserve? Perhaps you’ll choose the ambiguous ending, leaving your readers to interpret what happens next.

Or maybe you’ll go for the open ending, leaving the door open for potential sequels or spin-offs. Whatever ending you choose, make sure it fits your story and leaves a lasting impact on your readers.

Remember, the ending is just as important as the beginning and middle. It’s what will make your story stick in the minds of your readers long after they finish reading. So, take your time and choose wisely.

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Jessica started off as an avid book reader. After reading one too many romance novels (really... is it ever really enough?), she decided to jump to the other side and started writing her own stories. She now shares what she has learned (the good and the not so good) here at When You Write, hoping she can inspire more up and coming wordsmiths to take the leap and share their own stories with the world.