Before I begin, I’d like to say hello to you all. It’s been a whole YEAR since I wrote a post for this blog hop. So long, I had to add my link to the linky-thingy again (unsurprising after such a long absence). I’ve missed you all and I’ll be hopping around to see some of you during the next few days. 🙂
I’m back now because I’ve finished my MA so I have the time and mental energy to get back to blogging. Well, at least, try to. Certainly, I intend to get back into this monthly hop. I still have a lot on my plate (don’t we all), some of which I’ll outline as and when in the coming months. But for now, here’s April 3rd’s question:
If you could use a wish to help you write just ONE scene/chapter of your book, which one would it be? (examples: fight scene / first kiss scene / death scene / chase scene / first chapter / middle chapter / end chapter, etc.)#IWSG
Me? I’d wish for help with the beginnings and/or endings–the first and last chapters. Damn, they’re so difficult to get right. Beginnings need to be catchy without being cliche, informative without being dumpy or clumsy, and they should place the reader right in the action, even though they know no one so care about nothing other than whether this book’s going to hold their attention long enough to make the purchase price worth paying.
The story can’t just end, either. Endings must pass on a message on theme, pull the threads of the plot together, complete a character arc (or two) and a story arc (or two), reveal a truth long earned, supply a stunning twist or an aha moment, which is preferably closer to original than worn-out.
I spend far too much time working on beginnings and endings, and endings in other people’s work, more often than not, are what has disappointed me most. There’re just too many possibilities. Readers all have their own ideas about how the characters should turn out, whether they should get together or get gutted in a dark ally. Endings are so subjective; can any writer hope to please everyone? Is it a fool’s errand even trying?
Some like, no need, happy ever afters, even in horror? My sister hates it when everyone dies for whom someone has to win over evil. Perhaps the stupid young couple lives to tell the gruesome tale to their kids instead of being butchered in bed? Unlikely. 🙂 Other’s prefer the bleakest, darkest horror endings. ‘No one lives. The End.’ Open endings, like those often found in contemporary literary stories, drive me crazy, with a few exceptions. I want to know what happened and I want it to be an ending built on the rest of the story. It must make sense. I should know enough before the book ends to enable me to take a bloody good guess at who has lived/loved/etc., and why.
And then, there are those cliched endings which, for each genre, have their own love/hate relationship with readers. Cliches are bad, yes. A post I read once, about the worst horror endings ever, included some I had loved. The one where the hero is and always was dead, for example. Movies like The Others and The Sixth Sense are prime examples. It’s clear that one person’s Marmite is another person’s… well, Marmite. Exasperating!
So, what about you? Which are your favourite endings/worst endings? What about beginnings? Would you keep reading if the first chapter didn’t quite grab you? And which part of your WIP is hardest to create?