Monday, September 12, 2011


Have you ever finished a book and felt that the end somehow wrapped up the entire story in a way you couldn't quite put your finger on? Something subtle? Chances are, the author created an ending that resonated with the beginning.

The same is true of magazine stories (fiction) and articles (non-fiction); in fact, the resonance is often more noticeable in a thousand words or less. It's that clever ending that returns to the premise from the opening paragraph. Pick up an issue of Highlights magazine, and you'll see what I mean.

It turns out, that resonance is intentional. It is one of the things editors look for in the articles and stories they evaluate. If you write for Highlights or other children's magazines, check for this before you submit.

Resonance isn't just for short pieces of work. Sara Grant, author of the recently released Dark Parties, incorporated resonance into her novel and recommends that other authors do the same. This isn't the answer to the big question posed on page one, rather something quiet... something that provides emotional satisfaction for the reader. It brings the work full circle.

What examples of resonance have you seen lately?


  1. This is super interesting! I've seen it a lot in picture books, and didn't really think about it for older readers, but you're right! Sometimes you just get this feeling of satisfaction when everything comes full circle. I'll be keeping my eye out for it now :)

  2. Some of my books do come full circle in the sense that at the end, the story is literally going to begin again.

  3. Thanks Jess!

    Carole, that sounds fascinating. I need to read those!

  4. I'm not sure if this is what you mean, but I read Girl Stolen and found myself thinking about it for days afterward. It wasn't so much a sense of completion as it was that the book was so thought-provoking, and while it ended the way it had to, I wanted for it to have been able to end differently... A case of making a bad character surprisingly sympathetic...

  5. I've also heard that wrap-ups for a longer work should occur in the reverse-order that they were initially presented in. In magazines, I find it a little obvious, and difficult to do with finesse, but that could be just me.

  6. I remember most the books that failed to live up to the promise of the prior chapters. The answer to the mystery falls flat or the adversary behaves stupidly. Blogger took me off your rolls, so I rejoined. Happy mid-week, Roland

  7. I am horrible at remembering details for questions like this, but I know what you mean and I know that I've read it/haven't read it--and definitely prefer when it's there. I like referring to it as resonance--I'd thought of it before as symmetry, but resonance is more appropriate.

  8. Susanna: That wasn't quite what I meant, but I agree that endings that make you think are terrific!

    Will: I hadn't thought about the reverse order, but it makes sense. I agree that having a wrap-up that's done well can be a challenge for short pieces. I suppose that's why it's so much more obvious in magazine pieces.

    Roland: It's unfortunate those are the memorable ones. Welcome back!

    Ali: Thanks!