The Final Paragraph

OmegaPilcrow Today, I typed out the final paragraph of my work-in-progress, Vaetra Untrained. My wife knew it too, because heard me exclaim from across the house.

I don’t know how other authors feel about the final paragraph, but for me it is a moment of big excitement. I feel my nerves start to tingle as I watch those last words appear on the digital page. My fingers hit the last few keys extra hard. When I stop typing, I stare at the words that represent the culmination of months of work, and my chest tightens. I don’t know whether to bury my face in my hands and cry, or jump up and dance around like a fool. The truth is that I feel like doing both at the same time, but I can’t, so I just sit there and grin until the emotional pressure won’t be denied, and then I yell, “Woohoo!”

The end of a work-in-progress; the beginning of a book

The final paragraph is a critical milestone in my writing process. Until the first draft is finished, there is no book. In a sense, I might as well have written nothing until I put down that last paragraph. Up to that point, all I have is an incomplete story.

I’m a big believer in minimal editing until the story is complete. When I read back over a scene I started in a prior writing session to get back into “the zone,” I may make little changes in word choice or correct a typo if I notice one, but I don’t let myself slip into “editor” mode. I see revision and editing as separate tasks that happen after the first draft is done. So, yes, I still have a lot of work ahead of me. But until I write that final paragraph, there is no “book” to revise.

The end of a book; the beginning of a relationship

Modern books rarely end with the words “The end.” Instead, the last paragraph has to give the reader that sense of finality. It has to adequately put to rest the thousands of words that precede it. In the case of a series, it may also have to encourage the reader to look forward to (or want to buy) your next book.

To me, the last paragraph is nearly as important as the first. It’s the way you say goodbye to your readers. Hopefully, they will look forward to meeting you again some day. It’s also a way to thank your readers for taking a few precious hours out of their life to read your work. In my case, I want readers to put the book down and think, “That was great! I’m glad I read it.”

Every day, I’m still amazed that readers go to Amazon and buy my first book. I’m not getting rich off of it, but my sales are paying for groceries, and hey, eating is important to me. I hope the final paragraph of Vaetra Unveiled leaves my readers wanting more, and that the same will be true of Vaetra Untrained.


How do you feel about the final paragraph as a reader or a writer? Tell me in the comments!


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  1. Congratulations, Daniel! I look forward to typing my own second book’s last paragraph at some point in the coming weeks.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Becca. It’s exciting just to be nearing the end, isn’t it? Best of luck with book 2!

  3. Wow, big congratulations are in order, Daniel. For me, writing an ending is incredibly difficult. I salute you good sir!

  4. Thanks, Michael. The ending is difficult for me too. I’m sure the struggle to come up with the right ending has a lot to do with the sense of relief and celebration that follows.

  5. Congrats, Daniel. For me, there’s nothing quite like putting the cap on that ending. Of course, in my latest work, fatigue and over-extension led to my writing a terrible ending scene that later had to be scrapped and totally re-written. =)

    Endings are hard; a lot of people can’t do them, well or at all. Some endings are not endings at all, but merely a pause. To me, the best ending wraps up the tale which has been told, but leaves a door open for more on the other side, if more is the plan. Judging by your first book, you know how to do that.

    Congratulations again — I can’t wait to read the new one!

    – Chris

  6. Thanks, Chris. I don’t know that my ending will survive my alpha reader and beta readers, but hey, I can at least say, "It’s done for now." 😉

    I suspect the ending for the third book will be far more difficult because I have to wrap up the entire series, not just the current novel. On the other hand, creating an ending in the first two books that makes people want to keep reading the series is its own challenge. Thanks for saying you think I got it right!

  7. I totally understand. I’m staring down the barrel of a trilogy wrap-up in my next novel project, and it’s going to be very difficult. Here’s hoping I can pull it off better than some "3quels" I’ve read/watched/played lately *coughMassEffect3cough*.

    Once we’ve both finished those trilogy-enders, I’ll be interested to compare experiences with you to see how it went! =)

  8. That would be interesting! Maybe we could do something like a Konrath/Eisler collaboration post, or interview each other with a focus on writing endings. But I guess it might be a challenge to do that without spoilers.