Thursday, February 28, 2013

What Makes an Ending Happy?

It isn't a trick question.  I've probably been spending too much time pouring over story lines.  Books, movies, series, theater; they all have so many different kinds of endings to offer.  Happily ever after.  Is it only one scenario?  The hero and heroine live on in their peaceful and beautiful world, never to face another shadow or doubt again?  It's a lovely idea.  And there are lots of those story lines out there.  But is that the only ending a telling must have in order to be considered a good story?

It seemed that way while growing up.  Bad conquered, good saves the day, sunshine and happiness all around.  That doesn't mean the hero doesn't face any hardships.  What would a story be without angst?  The hero grows and overcomes.  He learns.  Adapts.  Evolves.  Or, does he?  What if he doesn't give an inch?  What if he sticks to his stubborn yet proven ways and manages to wrap everything up in a pretty bow and sprinkle it with glitter.  It can still be entertaining and have a moral to take in.  And sometimes it isn't the hero who reaches your heart.  Supporting characters have a way of stealing the show with their quirks and antics.  That always adds to the deal.

Then there's the other kind of conclusion.  Maybe the hero risks it all, suffers throughout, and still comes out victorious.  What was his price?  What did he have to sacrifice?  Will he carry a permanent scar around for the rest of his life to remind him and those who walk with him of what they've gone through?  Does the hero have to be saved?  Was he a hero to begin with?  The stories where the main character is happy being a tiny pixel in a much bigger picture, but he's dragged into a situation - whether it's kicking and screaming or with his head held high - and goes through an experience that changes him.  It teaches him even the smallest of pixels can be touched, torn, bruised, and loved.  Not all heroes begin on the good side.  Not all heroes are brave.  The hero may not always be right.

I bring this up because the majority of the stories I've taken in as of late ended without the happily ever after those familiar and comforting stories have.  But somehow, there is still comfort in there.  The sacrifice mentioned earlier, was it more than he realized?  Once he pays the price, is there a tax thrown in to kick him while he's down?  Heroes come in all shapes, sizes, strengths, and with a variety of clever or cunning moves.   Even still, how does he measure success?  What does he see as a win?  It can be as simple as seeing the innocent smile or stop a single person's pain.  Then again, it can be something much bigger.  Multiple lives are saved, maybe even the world.  He paves the way for denizens to live on in an improved state.  Does that make it a good story?  Is that a happy ending.  Now, what if the hero accomplishes all this and is unable to save himself?  Do heroes always win?  What would you consider a win?

I won't give examples of books or movies that have the less than "happily ever after" ending in case of spoiling their stories.  All did not end well, but the problem is resolved, peace is able to prevail.  Is it still a happy ending?

 Admission:  There are WiP's in my possession that do not have the "happily ever after" ending.   The troublesome elements are conquered or capped, but not everyone goes home, not everyone gets what they want.  Some pay a bigger price than others.  While each and every character has a name and face in my mind, and I am fond of most of them, that doesn't give them a free pass.  A part of me wonders if there is something messed up on my end that allows my heroes to suffer and fall.  The guy doesn't always get the girl, or vice versa.  Does that taint a story?  Does it take away from its overall appeal?

Yes, it is saddening when the hero or supporting characters suffers losses in a story.  But isn't that what makes them stronger?  Isn't that what sets them apart from others?  There are a few books and movies I've walked away from mad because of the hero or heroine making the ultimate sacrifice.  Even still, I have to admit they captured my attention and took hold of my heart nonetheless.

As long as the hero remains a hero.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Due Date Update

Yep, I have the official date I'm supposed to turn in Oneiros for its first round of edits.  Remember when I said BFF was going to give me until July?  Well, she changed her mind.  She will be in town April 27th and plans to go home with a copy of it.  That means I'm finally getting my butt in gear.  I've patched a few holes in the writing I have on the computer but can't find the one notebook with the most important notes.  I'm sure it's on my desk somewhere.  That can be a dangerous place these days.  Here's hoping to it turning up soon!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

I Am Ashamed

Yes, I've been avoiding the blog.  Shame, shame, I know.  I'll try to make up for it.  A quick ramble will have to do for now.

Let's see ... what's been happening?

Bits and pieces.  Little bits and pieces.  A&F is still here staring me in the face.  I get in the mood every now and again to work with it.  I know I've said it many times before, but it is so close to being finished, it hurts.  The cover art is currently being created.  That is a nice and sturdy push.  It might just be me, but getting to see the cover is of the more exciting parts of writing stories.  It's the image your story will be associated with.  Maybe I'm just being dramatic.

Oneiros has forced its way back into the mind.  Of all my WiPs, I have to say it is the most fun I've had writing.  I don't know what it is, but Oneiros is my escape of escapes.  I wasn't serious when I started it, and I wrote the end before the rest.  Weird.  It has a bit more to go, but not too bad.  I sent it (the chunks that are on the computer) to a few friends to let them know what I've been up to.  I love getting feedback from them.  But, this time I think I've summoned the cattle-prod once again.

One of my friends, we'll call her BFF (and not just because she encourages my hobby), texted me the same night I sent Oneiros to her.  I got a call from her in the week again about the WiP.  Her love for it was growing.  She has ordered me to finish it.  When BFF says to do something, you do it.  That's it.  No way around it.  So, she's Oneiros' keeper, or bodyguard, or guardian.  I've dubbed her my agent for the story.  She gave me lots of ideas to work on and set a tentative due date of July.  We're supposed to catch up again Sunday and make some rules for me to work by.  I've needed that.  I've shared my hopes and plans about Oneiros with BFF.  She is taking those and combining them with reality and her advice and we'll have a more defined due date.  As in manuscript-packed-and-postmarked-by date.

The idea kind of scared me at first.  Now I'm telling myself to shut up and get to work.  So I guess I better find all my notebooks and obey BFF.  A&F is still on my desk.  It will stay there until its final edit.  My plans for it are not the same as my plans for Oneiros.  Is it odd that I write these stories with different goals in mind?  I can't say that any two have been aimed at the same target.  Maybe that means I'm still looking for my genre and platform.

Anywho, BFF has also demanded I not leak anymore pieces of Oneiros until it is finished.  That will be hard to promise.  I've always liked sneaking little samples out on the blog.  We'll see how that goes.

Yep, two WiPs once again.  That's ok.  Keeps it interesting.  I'm still kicking.

Oh, and BTW, if you like anime of any form, I highly recommend giving Steins;Gate a try.  I loved every bit of it.  The story is addictive and the characters are a blast.  There's too many twists and turns to keep track of.  Just go into it knowing you're in for a ride.