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Zee

Loose Ends

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As I draw my first "long" story to a close, I find myself second-guessing my planned ending a bit. I still think where I've ended it is where it ought to end, but the question remains: how many loose ends are too many? I'm not planning on writing a sequel, BTW.

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1 hour ago, Zee said:

I still think where I've ended it is where it ought to end, but the question remains: how many loose ends are too many?


fwiw, the Story Grid says the Thriller genre with a false ending (giving you two endings). My Fantasy / Noir has a false ending before I lead into the true ending. You may find that your story has two endings because of the genre.
https://storygrid.com/secrets-of-the-thriller-genre-part-one/
 

Quote

 

What is a Thriller?

The Thriller is an arch-plot (Hero’s Journey) external genre combining the primal genres (Action, Horror, and Crime)….The thriller…concerns the individual coping with omnipresent and often difficult to even comprehend antagonism. The external becomes internal, forcing the protagonist to make fundamental choices to unleash critical gifts..” —Shawn Coyne The Thriller is about excitement and the need to avoid both death and damnation. While Crime stories usually end at justice or injustice, and Horror and Action stories usually end at life or death, the Thriller protagonist is pushed to their limits. Toward damnation.A Thriller need not reach actual damnation, but the potential and the vehicle for damnation must be expressed.

 

 

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I'm not sure what you mean by a "false ending." Can you explain?
The current ending has the two main characters in an uncertain, but still hopeful, place. 

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1 hour ago, Zee said:

I'm not sure what you mean by a "false ending." Can you explain?

My understanding is what happens in The Incredibles. The family of superheroes faces down their arch enemy Syndrome and the Omnidroid. The Omnidroid knocks Syndrome out, and the Incredibles and Frozone battle and finally defeat the Omnidroid. Everyone's relieved and celebrating their victory, so it seems like this is the end. But this is actually a false ending. The family gets back home to find Syndrome is not only still alive, but he's kidnapped baby Jack Jack. Stuff happens, and Syndrome comes to a final and very sticky end.

 

Another example is Fatal Attraction. I don't remember their names in the movie, but Michael Douglas drowns Glenn Close in the bath, and it looks like it's all over. This is a false ending. Glenn Close comes screaming back to life, going for him with the knife until the wife stops her with a bullet.

 

The false ending leaves you feeling relieved after the huge climactic confrontation. You think the bad guys are beaten. But then the villain pops back, surprising both audience and the good guys, and there's immense drama and danger before the bad guy is finally defeated.

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18 hours ago, Zee said:

As I draw my first "long" story to a close, I find myself second-guessing my planned ending a bit.

You do mean your first draft to your first long story, right? This isn't your final draft already, is it? In which case, you've landed right smack in the middle of where all first-timers finish -- questioning themselves. Perfect! (In the relative-perfect way, not the perfect-perfect way. xD)

 

And that's why first drafts aren't final drafts. If you think about it, the ending isn't the only place you have questions. Remember that part where... (auto-fill, because your mind just landed on the spot earlier on that you knew wasn't quite right, but it was okay for now.)

 

The fun is just starting. You got your first draft down. Yay! Celebrate worthy.

 

Now go back and work on making it better. Including the ending, because you also know it wasn't enough of an ending for you. Honest, this is how it works. And yes, I know you are confused out of your mind right now, but that's the beauty of writing. We can keep going back to fix it, even though we have no idea how to fix each part at any given moment.

 

But, as you fix the rest of the story, the ending will come to you more and more.

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Hmmm, I don't think I have that exactly. But the story I'm writing isn't a thriller. 

I was more thinking of things that don't get resolved. For example, the story ends with the  secondary main character's husband in jail. She finds out where he is, but she doesn't get to see him and she has no idea what's next for their family.

 

The main character saves herself, and, by extension, some of her relatives, from a very tight situation, but again, at the end of the story, it's not really clear what's going to happen to her next.

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4 minutes ago, Spaulding said:

You do mean your first draft to your first long story, right? This isn't your final draft already, is it? In which case, you've landed right smack in the middle of where all first-timers finish -- questioning themselves. Perfect! (In the relative-perfect way, not the perfect-perfect way. xD)

Yes, first draft of first story, that's right. Actually, I am happy with my ending as it stands, but my goal is to make my readers happy, and I don't know how much uncertainty they'll tolerate.

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4 minutes ago, Zee said:

The main character saves herself, and, by extension, some of her relatives, from a very tight situation, but again, at the end of the story, it's not really clear what's going to happen to her next.

Fiddler on the Roof, one of my favourite movies, has an ending a bit like this. The characters are forced to leave Anatevka and you're not sure what sort of future they're all going to have.

 

But they manage to make it a bittersweet ending. Although it's sad how they're persecuted and expelled from their homes and how they're all scattering to various countries, there's still a sense of hope that they'll be okay. You get the feeling that with their faith, resilience and love for each other, they will make it in their new lives.

 

If you want to have an uncertain ending, as a reader I'd like to see that there's a window of hope, otherwise it's a bit of a downer.

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This is your basic story --

Something happens that pulls the character out of normal-life so hard she has to regain normal-life back.

What she tries doesn't work.

Repeat until climax.

And the ending is when she learns there is no going back to what normal-life was. There is only new-normal-life, for better or worse.

 

BUT she does return to normal-life.

 

If that's new normal-life, you have your ending. If she doesn't have normal-life yet, it's not.

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Zee - like most journeys - which in many ways writing is - you will know your true ending when you write it.

 

For Demons I wrote three different final paragraphs. 1st one at the start of writing the book. The 2nd at the end of the 1st proper draft and  the 3rd was the one  - which I steeled on - 4th draft.

 

If you do not plan to write a sequel,  I would suggest ensuring you tie up any 'what abouts' and 'what ifs' although you could deliberately leave one or two out just in case you change you mind later on.☺️

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false endings best typified in scary movies. You know, you think the crazed killer is dead, and they suddenly jump back to life.

 

Or the one that affected my life as a writer, 3 days of the condor, where Condor is given the offer of being a hired killer and refuses. You think that's the end, except Condor goes to the New York times and tells all - only to find the Times is under the Organization's control all along, and his tell-all will be covered up. The hitman's warning that Condor will be killed by a trusted friend is about to come true...

 

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If I remember correctly Zee, we decided the story was "social milieu " meaning that the ending is probably a matter of  "if I knew then what I know now, we could have avoided this mess."

 

One of the best examples of this is in The Great Gatsby.  It's the "Gatsby beloved in the green light..." passage

 

I think you have the perfect character to sum this up in the old mechanic, maybe in a conversation with his wife at some milestone event like a high school graduation. 

 

My two cents, and worth every penny.

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"If I knew then..." 

Yes, that pretty much sums it up. In a way...

Don't remember an old mechanic, though. The only "oldish" person in this tale is a college professor.

 

You know, I think you have the wrong Zee.

No worries--we have "Z" and "Zee," me being the latter. Probably uneccessarily confusing, but his "Z" is fancy and mine is plain. And there is an old mechanic in one of his stories.

Edited by Zee
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On 11/6/2019 at 2:41 PM, Zee said:

As I draw my first "long" story to a close, I find myself second-guessing my planned ending a bit. I still think where I've ended it is where it ought to end, but the question remains: how many loose ends are too many? I'm not planning on writing a sequel, BTW.

The first movie in a lot of "semi-planned" series could serve as an example for you. For instance, the original Star Wars or the first Pirates of the Caribbean. Both were made to be stand-alones that could have a sequel if the money was right. So, they both have loose ends, but satisfying endings (the Empire still exists and Darth Vader got away, but the Death Star is destroyed, Jack Sparrow escapes with many more possible adventures to come, but Will and Elizabeth are together and safe). 

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