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Teachers: Literacy: Text

Last Updated: Friday March 03 2006 10:53 GMT

Novel endings


Children¿s author Jacqueline Wilson launches World Book Day
Most people like books to have a happy ending, says a new survey.

Students analyse what makes a good ending and write conclusions to stories which have been randomly generated by the rest of the class.

Learning aims
  • Tips on how to write a strong ending

A girl and boy reading

How does a good ending affect you?

Print out and distribute these comments about book endings submitted by children logging onto the Newsround website.

They are available as a printable worksheet.

Ask students to select one comment they agree with and one thy disagree with.

In pairs, students explain to their partners why they agree/disagree.

Ask the class:

  • Of all the books you have read, which is your favourite ending? Why?
  • Of all the books you have read, which is your LEAST favourite ending? Why?
  • How does a good ending affect you?
Make a class list of their suggestions.

If students find it hard to put their reactions into words, ask them to chose their favourite reaction from the following list:

  • It puts me in a good mood
  • It makes me remember the book better
  • It makes me want to recommend it to a friend
  • It makes me want to read the book again
  • It makes me want to cry
  • It leaves me feeling satisfied
The above list were choices offered to people as part of a survey for World Book Day.

Here are the results:

  • It leaves me feeling satisfied - 37.1%
  • It puts me in a good mood - 23.5%
  • It makes me remember the book better - 9.8%
  • Itmakes me want to recommend it to a friend - 9.1%
  • It makes me want to read the book again - 7.9%
  • It makes me want to cry - 5.5%
Point out that most people who took part in the survey said a good ending left them feeling satisfied.

Main activity

Story generator

Explain to students:

Endings are important as they are the author's last chance to make an impression on the reader.

The World Book Day survey showed that most said a good ending left them feeling satisfied.

But how do you create that satisfaction?

Below are some tips on how to do it.

But remember, there are NO hard and fast rules about endings - it's all up to the author.

After all, some writers would argue that "they lived happily ever after" is a poor ending, but several of Shakespeare's plays end like this - and many people consider him the world's greatest writer!

Good ending top tips:

  • Solve the problem, dilemma or conflict faced by the story's main character
  • Once the problem is solved, the story should end. Adding anything else can weaken the ending
  • Show that your main character has changed or grown in some way, but don't preach about it
  • Be clear. Readers shouldn't have to choose between several hinted endings
  • Tie up all the loose ends by answering any questions the reader may have
Students imagine each of them is an author writing a story about a main character overcoming a problem.

On a white piece of paper, each student writes a brief description of their main character.

On a coloured piece of paper, they write a description of the problem faced by their character.

Collect in the papers, muddle them up and distribute them so that each student receives one white and one coloured piece.

Using the information in front of them, students compose the end paragraph of the story.

For example:

Main character: Jack, 13, who is mad on computer games.

Problem: Finding £1,000 and deciding whether or not to keep it.

Ending: Jack opened the morning paper, to see his face on page 5, below the headline: "Boy's cash find puts thieves behind bards." As much as he'd wanted to keep the money, Jack was pleased that handing it to the police had stopped a gang of thieves from terrorising any more old people in his village. He put down the paper and picked up the console of his new PlayStation, which he'd bought with the reward money. Life wasn't so bad after all!


Students outline the character and problems descriptions from which they were working before reading out their endings to the rest of the class.

Ask other members of the class:

  • How far does the ending solves the main character's problem?
  • Does the ending leave you feeling satisfied?
    Teachers' background

    Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (27%)
    To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (12.1%)
    Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte (11.7%)
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, Mark Haddon (9%)
    Rebecca, Daphne Du Maurier (6.1%)

    The World Book Day survey showed that only 1.1.% of people aged 41-65 preferred a sad ending. However, a much bigger 8.6% of under 16s said they preferred books with a sad ending.

    It found Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice was the nation's favourite happy ending.

    Other well-loved classics which feature in the rundown are Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre 1984 by George Orwell, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol and Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

    There were fewer new works in the chart, but The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon and Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones made the top 30.

    Curriculum relevance

    English Key stage 3 National Curriculum, En3 Writing

    7d. Structure of whole texts, including cohesion, openings and conclusions in different types of writing
    9a. The range should include different kinds of stories, poems, playscripts, autobiographies, screenplays, diaries

    For hundreds more news-based stories, click on Teachers on the left-hand side.

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