Sticking the Landing
Ever write an amazing post, but then find yourself stymied by how to get out of it? Endings are hard. As writers, it’s difficult to resist the temptation to finish up with a paragraph summarizing the story we just told. In many of my first drafts, I end up leaving a placeholder that says “INSERT ENDING HERE.” Then I hope for the best in the second draft.
So how can you finish out your short-form nonfiction stories without resorting to summarizing or explaining? Always err on the side of more story. Tamp down your urge to break free of the narrative form. Why? Because the human brain connects most powerfully through story — teller and reader quite literally begin to synch up their emotional and sensory responses based on shared experience.
Here are three techniques to help you stick the landing:
Frame your “telling” with “showing.” Not all our essays require a traditional dramatic arc. There’s definitely room in blogging for op-ed pieces and journal entries and reporting too. But no matter what your subject matter, you can always strengthen your piece by framing it with story. Begin and end on an illustrative experience that ties into your main theme and sandwich the opinions or emotions or facts in the middle.
Jump forward in time. Not sure how to exit a story about your childhood? One effective technique is to conclude with a future scene that shares a leitmotif with your tale from the past. This way, instead of just telling your reader how these events make you feel now, you’re showing them that impact.
Leave the ending open. You don’t need to tie everything up in a neat bow, which can make your writing feel inauthentic. Instead, play around with open endings. If you’ve shown your reader enough of the story, they’ll be able to fill in the gaps in their own mind. In fact, the best stories are those that linger, challenging the reader to think more deeply about what might have been.
As you write for the grid this week, pay close attention to your endings. If you’re resorting to telling versus showing, try one of the methods above instead for a landing worthy of Simone Biles.
Yeah write super challenge #2
The second round of super challenge #2 is almost wrapped up! Our judges are finishing up their part while our participants bite their nails in anticipation of the results. Wish them good luck in the comments! They deserve it!
Did you miss out on registration? Don’t fret! Just sign up for our email blast so you don’t miss out on any announcements regarding future super challenges.
Make sure to come back to yeah write on Tuesday, November 1 to check out what’s next in our nonfiction know-how series!
Want more info?
Is this your first time here? Check out Sunday’s post which kicked off the week here at yeah write. Our email subscribers can also join us in the yeah write coffeehouse at its home on Facebook. If you’ve never taken the time to read them, please take a moment to familiarize yourself with our submission guidelines. The rules are a little different for each of our challenges and we’d hate to have to send back great writing on a technicality.
Did you happen to end up here because you suddenly saw yeah write in your stats? Sometimes members of our community spot excellent writing and they send those posts on over to us. We hope you don’t mind. Take a look around and get to know our community. We’re sure you’ll be happy here.
How to submit and fully participate in the challenge
Basic yeah write guidelines: 1000 word limit; your entry can be dated no earlier than this past Sunday; nonfiction personal essay, creative opinion piece or mostly true story based on actual events.
1. In the sidebar of this week’s post, please grab the code beneath the nonfiction badge and paste it into the HTML view of your entry
2. Follow the Inlinkz instructions after clicking “add your link” to upload your entry to this week’s challenge grid
3. Your entry should appear immediately on the grid if you don’t receive an error message
4. Please make the rounds to read all the entries in this week’s challenge
5. Consider turning off moderated comments and CAPTCHA on your own blog
Submissions for this week’s challenges will close on Wednesday at 10pm ET. Voting will then open immediately thereafter and close on Thursday at 10pm ET. The winners, as always, will be celebrated on Friday.
Thank you for sharing with us your hard work! Good luck in the challenge…