In an interview in The Paris Review in 1958 Ernest Hemingway made an admission that has inspired frustrated novelists ever since: The final words of “A Farewell to Arms,” his wartime masterpiece, were rewritten “39 times before I was satisfied.”
When you write, the opening sentence and the closing line can feel like deal breakers. Ending your post shouldn’t feel like a trailing off, but a succinct closing that neatly ties together all that you’ve written. And as Hemingway’s 39 alternate endings suggest, sometimes it can take a few rewrites to really find what you’re looking for.
Previously, we wrote a few tips on how to begin your post. If it’s the ending that’s got you stuck, try to write out the main points of your post by hand or in a separate document. This can help reduce any mental clutter when trying to figure out the words you want to use to nail your ending.
In terms of a writing strategy, consider parallels. For example, if you start your post with a description of a place or moment, try ending it with a description as well – or leave your descriptive moment unfinished in the first paragraph so that you can finish it while closing out your post. If you’re looking to encourage comments or reader interaction, end your posts with a prompt or a quote. This gives your readers an extra nudge to go beyond hitting the “Like” button and comment on your post.
Above all, don’t let the ending keep you from finishing. If you find yourself getting up there in draft numbers like Hemingway, stop. Find one you’re happy with and move on. It will get easier as time goes on.
Which is the hardest part for you: the beginning or end? How often do you edit your final line?