So I’ve been reading all all about endings in my writing reference books (being a writing reference book junkie has it’s advantages!) and trying to figure out how what I’m reading applies to the ending I’m trying to write for The Truth About Truman.
I started with Kaplan’s Revision, since that’s ultimately what I’m doing here — I’m REVISING. Kaplan says a good ending should:
1) satisfactorily resolve the conflicts dramatized in the story (a corollary of that is “it should fully dramatize the CONSEQUENCES of characters’ conflicts…hmm, that’s something to think about…)
2) be unexpected, but believable
Okay, I know all that.
He also lists ineffective endings:
1) the “message” ending (which I may be slighly guilty of with this manuscript)
2) the “deus ex machina” ending
3) the “trick” ending (which sounds a lot like the deus ex machina ending, but the deus ex machina ending is when a stroke of luck or an accident or catastrophe takes care of your ending for you…a trick ending is more of a “the reader didn’t have all the facts to begin with” sort of ending…neither of these problem endings is my problem with Truman
4) the “smoky” ending (this is when there isn’t a climax…things just drift away, which is part of what’s wrong with Truman
5) the “confusing” ending
6) the “unearned” ending
Kaplan also goes on to suggest, “endings often come from exploring the darker, or ‘opposite,’ aspect of a character’s character — a re-vision, a re-seeing, or that character and her conflict.” Hmm…that’s an interesting thought, but I’m not sure that’s the direction I want to go with Truman.
Kercheval talks about endings in Building Fiction: How to Develop Plot and Structure, too. He gets into internal and external conflict. “The conclusion to the external conflict is always a visible crisis action.” And the conclusion to an internal conflict is either:
1) the character comes to realize _________
2) the character fails to realize _________
Okay…I know I need a “visible crisis action” for the climax, I just don’t know what that “action” is yet. I DO know (yes, I actually do know something!) what Zebby “comes to realize” at the end. But hmm…since this is a multiple POV book, maybe I should also pay attention to what the other character come to/fail to realize, too??? Maybe the clue to what should happen in the climax is to take a look at ALL my characters? Where were they all when the story began? Where are they now? How has each one changed?
I don’t remember which book I talked about “opposing characters facing off.” I have some of that (some “opposing characters facing off,” I mean) toward the end of the book…but I could maybe take it further.
What is at issue for each of these characters??? That could be clearer in my mind…
Zuckerman talks about the “obligatory scene” in Writing the Blockbuster Novel. The obligatory scene is basically the climax, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the ending. (It’s not in my book.) The obligatory scene is the scene that MUST be in your story. It’s the scene where “two main opposing characters or forces who in a scene of great power, resolve the issue between them.” Here’s a new thought…maybe Zebby should needs to face the newspaper teacher in the obligatory scene??? The newspaper teacher is really the first “opposing character” who is introduced in this story. That opens up some new possibilities…