Tuesday, April 24, 2012

And They Lived Happily Ever After...

Jeff Writes:

I have a plot question, which occurs at the end of my novel. Ian's story worthy problem is that he gains his self worth from what others think of him rather than gaining his self worth from within. At the climax, Ian must solve an underwater death maze without his brother's help. At this point, it seems that his story worthy problem is revealed. He has proven to himself that he can think under great pressure. However, he is still stuck in the land of WOW. He and his brother work together to make a machine that will return them home. Is this an anti-climactic ending? I suppose their ability to work as equals could be where the story worthy problem is revealed. Do I need to combine the climax with the revelation of the story worthy problem?
Here is my outline:
Inciting Incident: Ian’s brother, Wesley, disappears.
Ian saves his brother.
Ian invades the castle.
Ian defeats Master O.
Resolution: Ian and Wesley returns home as equals. Ian has lost his innocence.
Thank you,

Hi Jeff ~
Getting the ending right is just as critical as nailing your beginning and as they say, timing is everything...

The biggest problem is knowing when enough is enough. We feel this urge to tie everything up in a neat little package when that just isn't necessary. Fiction is supposed to reflect real life, right? Well, I know very little situations in real life where everything little thing is resolved. It's okay to leave a few strings flapping in the wind--just not the BIG ones.

It's a delicate thing. If you rush it, you're reader will feel cheated and if you drag it out, you're reader will want to kill you. Luckily, there is a way to avoid both. I think that the best way to tie this is up is like this:

Ian and Wesley are forced into the underwater death maze together. Through the course of the maze, Wesley takes charge and Ian lets him... but then come the point that Wesley has solved the maze. Ian has come to a different solution and while Wesley's solution will save them, it's part of Masters O's plan to trap them in the land of WOW forever.

Ian sees a different solution. One that will not only save them but transport them--and all the other abducted children--back home. Ian stops his brother before he inadvertently traps them all forever, and assures him that he knows the answer. Wesley sees a confidence and strength in his brother that he's never seen before and he steps aside to let Ian take the lead. Ian applies his own solution, thus (I can't believe I just used the word "thus"... in an actual sentence) freeing them all.

Once your climax is on the page, it's best to end things quickly--within 5 pages, max. This leaves your reader on a high--they feel good about your story... which means they feel good about you as a writer.

I'm not sure if my suggestion will require re-writes but I'd give it some serious thought. This way will give you your climax, story problem resolution, and proper ending all in one whack. Just remember... during the course of the climax, it's all hands on deck. It's gotta hurt. Throw everything you've got at them, make it seem as if it's an impossible situation to conquer. Don't make it short and sweet. It's gotta be down and dirty. Dangle Ian over a cliff and let him twist in the wind... your reader will cheer for him all the harder for it when he succeeds--guaranteed.

 thanks for the question, Jeff and I hope I was helpful!
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