Friday, July 16, 2010

Endings

I recently watched a skilfully animated movie called, “9”. I used to work in animation and so I could appreciate the art, colours, lighting and atmosphere of the whole film. It was no less than gorgeous.

The story hooked me from the start. I enjoyed the journey through adventure. I loved the characters. The action segments kept me guessing and gasping. But then the last segment of the movie fizzled out. It bombed. It was almost as if the writer didn’t know where to go. I felt cheated. All the good work the creators did in the beginning might as well have been tossed into the bin.

Well written endings leave the reader feeling satisfied. The reader wants to read more of your writing. This does not mean we must always write up-beat endings, but they must tie up loose threads, they must show a change in the internal workings of the main character, and they must be a comfortable fit for the story.

Avoid the cliché endings that leave the readers groaning. Avoid the twist endings that make no sense. Don’t let your endings fizzle. Make them explode with a bang, or end with a tidy satisfaction, or as a surprising eye opener.

Can you think of any movies or books with great endings? How did they make you feel?


16 comments:

  1. Interesting question. I just finished reading Sisters Red, and I've been thinking about the ending off and on since I closed the cover, wondering whether or not I liked it. Maybe that's a third option. Endings don't always have to be neat and pretty. Sometimes, they're better if they make you wonder what happens next.

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  2. That was my issue with the movie too. I felt the same with the The Secret Year. The book first 3/4 of the book was awesome it's the last 1/4 that sucked and was a total let down.

    When I see stuff like that I wonder what the first draft was like and what other influences effected the creative process. Was that the ending the writers intended or did some studio ex want to change it.

    Best endings ever: The Usual Suspect.

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  3. I haven't seen it. Maybe I'll take it off my Netflix queue... I'll have to keep thinking about great endings.

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  4. you know, i saw 9 back when it was in the theatre. i remember thinking it was visually breathtaking... but i can't remember the ending at all. i think that says something... not good.

    good endings off the top of my head... little women, lotr, emma, city of ember, and i know it's not a book (and everyone might not like the ending) but i loved the ending of dead poets society.

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  5. I always love the endings that make me slap my forehead and say, " I should have seen that coming." But those are really hard to come by. I also like an ending that leaves some room for me to imagine a future for the character. The best example I can think of right now is Gone With the Wind. I spent years of my life imagining how Scarlett could get Rhett back, or how she could have done things differently.

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  6. Martina, Yes, thought provoking endings are great too. Sad endings can be good. Whatever ending you decide on, it the story should at least lead up to it and it should tie up loose ends.

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  7. Erinn, I wonder that myself - what were the thought processes behind the story. Apparently "9" wasn't developed from a book but a short film. I don't know if the creators changed the original ending or what happened. I was so mad for days afterwards. lol.

    Yes! the usual suspect's end made the movie. Brilliant.

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  8. Rosie, it might be worth seeing the movie as an exercise on how you could improve the ending :)

    Aspiring, I loved the ending of City of Ember. All the other books you listed tied up loose ends in a really satisfying way. All good books/stories.

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  9. Melissa, I've often wondered that about Scarlett as well, but it is a fitting end to the book. And yes, I love twist endings. I think they are the most difficult to write.

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  10. Good question. I recently read Shiver and thought the ending was well done.

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  11. Jemi, I don't know Shiver. I'll have to check it out.

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  12. I liked the ending in the first "Planet of the Apes"...the Statue of Liberty and Heston in the sand - "Damn you! Damn you all to Helllllllll!"

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  13. I watched that recently. The movie has aged a bit, but the ending is still brilliant.

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  14. I felt the same way when I watched 9. It needed more coherence towards the end and the creators just didn't deliver.

    I was also upset that in the trailer, the creators used Coheed & Cambrias "Welcome Home." However, it was never used in the movie itself. That was very disappointing.

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  15. How cool that you can especially appreciate animated movies since it was something you've done before!!!

    Great endings?? Oh yes I know quite a few that I love but Harry Potter was epic, the series was wonderful and left me in complete awe... I loved it.

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  16. Chary, oh I hadn't seen that trailer. It is bad when scenes are included in a trailer but not in the movie itself. It sets up a false expectation.

    Jen, I don't think my husband would agree with you about it being cool I can appreciate animation because I used to do animation as a living. I keep pointing out all the faults in movies, lighting inconsistencies, bad colour matching, etc ;) poor guy.

    Yes, Harry Potter was an enjoyable read :)

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