5 Things That Can Kill Your Story, and How To Avoid Them

5 Things That Can Kill Your Story

It’s common to watch a movie or show that gets you wrapped up in its engaging plot, but eventually delivers to you a terrible, or lackluster ending.

This happens to many TV shows, movies, books, and boy is it disappointing when it happens.

Nobody likes a bad ending, so to help you avoid creating such a disastrous ending and help you understand how endings can get so bad, here’s my list for are things for that can kill your story.

Disclaimer: Keep in mind just because it can kill your story, doesn’t mean it will, these are just common errors that tend to lead to a terrible ending.

  1. “Too Many Loose ends” – an ending doesn’t have to answer all your questions or resolve all of the conflicts. In fact, it can be a good thing to leave mysteries going, especially if your planning a next book or continuation. The issue comes when you introduce too many plot points while writing up your story.

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When this happens, it can be difficult to keep track of inconsistencies and plot holes, and if they aren’t spotted and cleared up before the end of a story, they can become an unresolved mess.

To avoid this issue, be sure to go over your story’s manuscript carefully during the editing process. Get people you can trust to read your manuscript, and if you have the time or energy find beta readers, be careful while hiring though, you should be able to get a lot of beta readers who won’t demand cash in return.

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  1. “Good buildup, Bad Payoff “–  this occurs when the story and scenes leading up to the end are solid, but the big finale at the end is underwhelming, and never quite delivers what anticipating readers are waiting for.

An example is if a villain is played up to be a big threat throughout the story, but at then at the end is vanquished by easily by something trite, like a quick fight scene.

Another example is if there’s a buildup to some hidden secret or great mystery, and when it’s revealed its either too predictable or makes no sense. Thus, this ending tends to feel more tacked on, rushed or just unsatisfying.


To help avoid this,
 if you foreshadowed something earlier, or built up something with anticipation, don’t end your story without clearing up any possible inconsistencies or major plot holes. A badly formulated “Random Twist”

What I’m referring to here, is when a shocking revelation is revealed, but without anything leading up to it. The reason why this ending can have people so up in arms is that there’s nothing leading up to the big reveal, and it can ruin an already great story.

  1. “A badly formulated”Random Twist” – What I’m referring to here, is when a shocking revelation is revealed, but without anything leading up to it. The reason why this ending can have people so up in arms is that there’s nothing leading up to the big reveal, and it can ruin an already great story. Despite this, twists can be pulled off correctly, and if you plan on writing, so to help avoid butchering it, my advice is to plant some clues or sprinkle some hidden nods or allusions to it, don’t make it look like you pulled it out of nowhere for the sake of shock value. (Also, please avoid twists that make it seem like events never occur, such as making the story take place in a dream, more about this on #5.)
  2. A“Deus ex Machina”,- by this I mean have a random power, creature or event come out of nowhere to resolve everything or defeat the antagonist. If you do plan on doing this, plan some build up or foreshadowing before its appearance. If you don’t it may look like you just tacked it on because you ran out of ideas, or just didn’t care.

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To help avoid this, 
it’s rather simple, don’t add one of these to your story, actually, try to formulate a good ending. If you’re struggling to figure out how to defeat the problem or antagonist in your story, don’t hesitate to see how other writers have defeated their villains, for inspiration, (and inspiration only, no copying!)

5.Making the Story completely unmeaningful Whether intentional or by accident, this is almost guaranteed to frustrate your audience. Having a character your audience has been rooting for since the beginning does something such as wake up from the dream it can be one of the largest slaps in the face you can deliver to your audience.

Why? Two reasons:

First, it’s like telling your audience that nothing in the story occurred, you wasted your time, and any unsolved mysteries or major plot points beforehand won’t be solved (unless there’s a sequel, but if there isn’t, you’re in trouble.)

Secondly, it can seem like a cop-out. Like the writer didn’t plan an ending so they just inserted this in place of a proper ending that would have wrapped things up, leaving your audience up in arms.

To avoid this, unless you’re confident in your ability to stay true to your audience and nail this ending, I say steer clear of writing this type of ending.

When it’s time to write the end of your story focus on what you’re writing, reflect on a major plot point and character arcs, and please be cautious when considering using any of these endings.

Still a bit uncertain on how to end your story, or did you feel I shortsighted a few reasons? Share your thoughts below, I would love to read them.

In the meanwhile, if you did like this list, or if you do want to check out some more tips on how to end a novel,  free to check out my Quick Tips: How to end a novel. Thanks for reading, and if you ever feel the need to share something with me, or want my input on a certain writing subject feel free to comment below. Until next time! 🙂

One thought on “5 Things That Can Kill Your Story, and How To Avoid Them

  1. Pingback: Can endings ruin entire novels?-Avis Thoughts #5 – Fularrii

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