Just Get it Over With (Episode 7: Endings)

A “telling tales” format with guest authors Marty ChanJeff Szpirglas, and Frieda Wishinsky. Featuring an original story with an ambiguous ending; a famous twist from Ambrose Bierce; gorgeous last lines and satisfying summations; and a story prompt about a deus ex machina. PG. 50 minutes.

Listen to the episode here or from your favourite streaming platform.

Just Get it Over With (Cabin Tales Episode 7)

Read the full transcript of this episode:

Or try the Fright-Free version for young listeners (no spooky story):

Fright-Free Episode 7: Just get it over with

Read the fright-free transcript of this episode:

Show Notes

[1:15] Story Intro

Have you ever met someone who seemed the total opposite of the rest of their family? Listen to this story about a tender-hearted boy whose parents love to hunt.

[1:40] Trigger warning: Violence against rodents. To share the podcast with very young listeners, try the “fright-free” version.

[2:30] Story: “Chewing, Chewing, Chewing” 

When Gabriel’s parents told him they’d rented a cabin in the woods, he didn’t want to go….

[14:00] Commentary on Ambiguous Endings

[15:00] Copy the Technique: Ambiguous Endings

[16:00] Excerpt from “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce

Before there was M. Knight Shyamalan, there was Ambrose Bierce, whose short story, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” was like the “Sixth Sense” of 1890.

[18:30] Copy the Technique: Twist 

End your story in a way that changes everything that came before.

[19:15] Excerpt from A Dog’s Life by Ann M. Martin 

You will often hear the advice that the ending of a story should echo the beginning. The novel A Dog’s Life by Ann M. Martin begins and ends with a dog by the fire with her owner. In between the bookended scenes, we learn the life story that led here.

[20:30] Copy the technique: Echo the Beginning

Go back to the beginning of your story and find something to echo in your ending.

[21:45] Excerpt from Charlotte’s Web by E.B.White 

Another tried-and-true way to make a satisfying ending is to sum things up. Charlotte’s Web has a poignant ending that acknowledges but softens the sadness of Wilbur’s journey and Charlotte’s death.

[23:30] Copy the technique: Sum Things Up

Acknowledge that the lives of your characters go on. End your story by telling us a tiny bit about the future, the whole span of your character’s life, in a very brief summing up.

Gorgeous Last Lines: 

[24:05] Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

[24:30] The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

[24:50] Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson

[25:50] Copy the technique: A gorgeous last line

Write a last line that is musical and beautiful and moves the reader by what it means and how it resonates with the whole story and by how it sounds.

[26:05] Interviews

[26:40] Jeff Szpirglas on discovering the ending

[28:10] Marty Chan on ending each book in a series

[30:50] Frieda Wishinsky on endings mirroring the beginning

[32:30] Interviews about sad endings

[33:05] Frieda Wishinsky on keeping hope alive

[35:15] Marty Chan on being true to the character

[36:45] Jeff Szpirglas on softening the horror with humour

[39:00] Advice for young writers on how to end a story

[39:10] Jeff Szpirglas on enjoying the discovery

[40:25] Frieda Wishinsky on outlining the story

[41:50] Marty Chan on telling your story out loud

[43:10] Story Prompt: “Not Dead Yet”

Life sometimes sends you a lifesaver.

[48:10] Thanks and coming up on the podcast

If you need more help ending your stories, tune in next week for Episode 7.5 of Cabin Tales, to hear guest authors Lena CoakleyLisa DalrympleKaren BassIshta Mercurio, and Tim Wynne-Jones share their advice.

[48:50] Scary Movie Quote

“That’s all there is. There isn’t any more.”

Thanks for listening.


Music on the podcast is from “Stories of the Old Mansion” by Akashic Records, provided by Jamendo (Standard license for online use).

Host: Catherine Austen writes books for children, short stories for adults, and reports for corporate clients. Visit her at www.catherineausten.com.

Art: The B&W image for this episode is from a wood engraving by Gustave Doré from The Days of Chivalry by Ernest Lépine, 1866.

Guest Authors

Marty Chan

Marty Chan writes books for kids, plays for adults, and tweets for fun. He’s best known for Mystery of the Graffiti Ghoul, which won the 2007 Diamond Willow Award. His newest book, Haunted Hospital, launched October 29th. He works and lives in Edmonton with his wife Michelle and their cat Buddy. Find him online at MartyChan.com, on Twitter @Marty_Chan; on YouTube MartyChanAuthor; on Instagram @MartyChanWriter; and on Facebook @MartyChanAuthor.

Jeff Szpirglas

Jeff Szpirglas is the author of over 20 books for young readers, both fiction and nonfiction, including entries for Scholastic’s “Countdown To Danger” series and Orca’s “Tales From Beyond the Brain.” He has co-authored two books about film soundtracks, and is a regular contributor to the award-winning horror magazine Rue Morgue. Jeff has worked at CTV and he was an editor at Chirp, chickaDEE, and Owl Magazines. These days, he spends his non-writing time as a full-time parent and full-time classroom teacher (and part-time werewolf). Visit him online at jeffszpirglas.com and find him on Twitter @jeffszpirglas or on Facebook

Frieda Wishinsky

Frieda Wishinsky has written over 70 picture books, chapter books, novels and non-fiction books. Picture book biographies are one of her favourite genres. She’s written biographies about Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Frederick Law Olmsted and most recently, Emily Roebling (How Emily Saved the Bridge). Frieda loves sharing the writing process. Find her online at https://friedawishinsky.com

Published by Catherine Austen

I am an award-winning Canadian author of books for all ages, including Walking Backward (Orca), My Cat Isis (Kids Can Press), 26 Tips for Surviving Grade 6 and 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6 (Lorimer) and All Good Children (Orca). I live with my family in Gatineau, Quebec.

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