Monday, July 18, 2011

The Ending is the Ending is the Ending...right?

First of all, great turnout on the first giveaway prize pack! Remember to check out the others and enter those too - you have to comment on each one you want a chance to win. 

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program...

Who remembers that movie Clue? When it came out in theaters? *looks around at raised hands* Well....first, you're all old! LOL! (So am I, though, so I can say that). I loved that movie, so campy and fun, with terrific actors, especially Tim Curry who has always been a favorite of mine. Did you know he played the demon in Legend? So versatile!

But that's not my point. Neither is the fact that I think Clue, much like another favorite camp film of mine Murder by Death, pokes great fun at old detective novels as well as putting a board game on the big screen. Here's the point. Right here.--------> For those who aren't old enough to remember, when the movie was shown in theaters, you only got to see ONE of the three or four possible endings they shot. When the movie moved to TV, they showed all of the endings, with "that's how it could have happened. But what about this?" interspersed between the endings, and a final one that said "but here's what really happened."

So which ending is the real ending? In the theater, if you wanted to see all the endings you had to go and see the movie a bunch of times and hope you got a different ending. If you never saw them all, how do you know which one was 'the' ending?

Something similar happened to me with the last book I finished, the steampunk fairy tale currently looking for an agent. Originally it had a particular ending. It was relatively happy with a bit of a weepy little twist. But someone thought it might be too adult for YA. It's a historical fantasy piece, and the ending was perfectly fit to the sensibilities of that time period, but in this day and age you sort of have to fudge a little bit sometimes, especially when the historical sensibilities run so very contrary to modern ones.

So I changed it completely. I've never really done that before. I liked this new ending better, actually, it was satisfying and managed to appease both modern and historical sensibility, I thought.

Another reader said it was too sad and slightly boring. Which, when I re-read it, I could see her point-of-view. I thought she was happy, but it did have a lot of telling and wasn't showing my main character to be as happy as I knew she was. It was too 'quiet' - which apparently is the kiss of death in YA.

So I wrote it again.

I took a little from one pot and a little from the other and blended them together to get ending #3. This ending shows more than tells, and the happiness is practically bursting from the page. My MC gets more of Ending #1 without being overly 'adult', and is still living the life I wanted for her in Ending #2. But this is the first time I've ever, ever completely ripped out an ending after a book was finished. Tweaked, yes, but never completely changed. Beginnings, sure, do it all the time. Middles - of course. But not an ending.

Someday when it's published I'll have to post the Alternate Endings, and you can decide how you think it 'really happened.'


  1. I've seen alternate endings done before. It can be really interesting to see. Sometimes it difficult to pin down the best ending. What we want for the MC and what's most logical aren't always the same.

  2. I am in the process of ripping up an ending at the moment, so I can identify with your thought processes :). The beginning went some time ago! Beginnings and endings are the most difficult and defining pieces of any book, without them, the folks that browse the front, or the back of the book to see if they want to buy it, just won't, so I admire the fact that you bit the bullet and dived in to rewrites - twice.

    However, I'm not a fan of the multiple endings in books or movies idea, for example, I hated the different endings in 'The Princess Bride' book (it didn't matter that it was an artefact of the story itself, either). I like my author to be decisive - tell me what happened in their reality, not what might have happened, whether it is happy, or sad, grittily realistic, or wonderfully romantic. I will take whatever the author gives me and judge on that, but if they give me a happy ending and then ruin it with an alternate tragic one, I won't be able to forget it, it will damage the story for me, I can't just pick the one I like, my mind doesn't work like that.

    It is interesting, though, when looking at a writer's work from an analytical or investigative perspective to see different endings, and it's great for discussions of technique and development among writers, but I avoid it in stuff I'm reading just for pleasure.

  3. Great post Christine.

    Thanks for sharing & I'm really interested in this book now...

    All the best,

  4. None of them were tragic, and all three conclude the same way, it's just how we get there that's different. They're even all true to the character just different ways the scene could have played out. I think the one I ended up with did come out best though.