It's similar to the ending of a novel, and the same requirements apply (see the last chapter). However, because a short story is briefer and contains fewer characters, the climax sometimes includes the denouement; that is, we find out during the climactic scene what happened to everybody who counts, and so the story ends.
At the end of any story, something must be different from the beginning. Something must have changed in a meaningful way. An important consideration in writing the ending to a traditional plotted story is that this change should be embodied in an action. It's not enough to just show that a character realizes something she didn't know before; she must do something about it, or at least must resolve to do something about it. Anything less doesn't provide enough closure for the traditional plotted story.
For example, upon waking from his mystical travels with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, Ebeneezer Scrooge doesn't merely think, "Whew! From now on I'll be a better man!" Dickens shows us Scrooge's change in action. Scrooge pledges money to charity, makes merry with his nephew Fred, raises Bob Cratchit's salary. (In fact, the function of Crat-chit and family is to be abused by Scrooge before his conversion and aided afterward. That's why they're in the story.)
Similarly, "Flowers For Algernon" ends with a specific request from Charlie Gordon concerning the mouse that underwent the same failed, I.Q.-enhancing operation as Charlie. This action dramatizes Charlie's return to his former simplicity and sweetness: "Please ifyou get a chanse put some flowrs on Algernons grave in the bak yard."
When you choose an action to dramatize whatever has changed from the beginning of your story, consider one additional criterion. The end of a story often delivers a dose of emo-tion—a rise in the emotional temperature of the narrative. Charlie Gordon's final request is moving because the reader knows that Charlie will share Algernon's death. The end of "The Lottery" sharply increases the level of horror. And the final action of "A Christmas Carol," a blessing from Tiny Tim, could hardly be more sentimentally optimistic. Whatever emotion your story as a whole seeks to convey, try to choose a final action that will evoke it in the reader.
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