When You Come to the End, Stop

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A few years back, I read a book about developing plots for novels and short stories. One chapter had an intriguing title: “When You Come to the End, Stop.” The author said that too often writers keep on writing long after they’ve said everything they needed to say. In an old-fashioned English murder mystery, for example, the murderer might be unmasked on page 200–but then the writer goes on for another dozen pages tying up loose ends and having the detective recount in detail how he cracked the mystery.

Similar problems can crop up in courts of honor. You probably won’t get up at the end and recount in detail how you planned the ceremony, but you might be tempted to make lots of announcements, tack on a Scoutmaster’s minute, or do something else that will make people start yawning and checking their watches.

Resist the temptation. As quickly as possible after the presentation of the Eagle badge, have a brief closing and let the celebration continue at the reception.

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