Don’t Rip The Carpet From Under Your Reader At The Last Minute

A.K.A. The Longest Blog Post Title Ever

Hey hey hey.

Just watched a movie. I got to the end and was sorta like, “What? Just? Happened?”

The problem was this: The movie was about an hour and a half long, and there was lots of drama, cool shots, nice lighting, funny hairstyles, etcetera, etcetera, et cet er a…

But here was the problem: The whole ending sequence lasted maybe eight minutes. There was a sort of dramatic courtroom-type scene, where people were loudly arguing, then it cut to a kid in a truck, then—everyone was riding down a country road, singing, smiling, with golden sunlight shining down onto their happy faces…oh joy oh joy, all was right in the world again.

Their world, at least.

As for my world? I was sort of confused.

“Um. What?!

Just happened?!”

So my tip for you intrepid writers: Please, please, please make sure your ending is appropriately long. And make sure it makes sense.

I remember watching the old version of the Scarlet Pimpernel. At the end, the Scarlet Pimpernel was marched outside, and you heard a gunshot, and the antagonist was probably all “Oh yay, I win.” (Frankly, I don’t remember. Just to give you an idea of how memorable it was.) Then the Scarlet Pimpernel marched back into the room, with a bunch of what we assume are his compadres dressed up like the French officials who supposedly just shot him.

Pimpernel: “Ha ha, antagonist, I was only pretending to get shot!!! You lose.”

You know who else lost? The audience! They spent an hour and a half submerged in this story; don’t you think they deserved a satisfying ending?

You’ve dragged your reader through your story. Well, let me rephrase that. You’ve led your reader through. (We don’t want any dragging, do we? Let’s leave that to people who write encyclopedias and physics textbooks.) They’ve spent, oh I don’t know, maybe a day or two reading it. When they finally make it to the end, make sure there’s a pot of gold for them. Who wants to follow a rainbow and find a red plastic bucket full of coal? 😦

So end it with fireworks. End it with a picnic. End it with a party. End it with the heirs winning the inheritance. End it with a bowl of ice cream. End it with a wedding. End it with a birthday. End it with a new car.

End the story with smiles. But make sure that the reader knows why they’re smiling, and make sure that there’s a good reason behind those pearly whites.

Just thought I’d share that. 🙂

Night y’all.

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20 thoughts on “Don’t Rip The Carpet From Under Your Reader At The Last Minute

  1. This is one of the most challenging lessons for a writer. It’s a big task to conclude something you have set up for pages and pages. A great reminder for ALL of us authors. Thanks!

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Ollin. 🙂 Yes, we have to tie up all those loose ends. I LOVE making loose ends, being a mystery writer especially. (Maybe I’ll write a post on a compelling mystery one of these days…)

  2. Yet none of the comments on this post have asked the most pressing question: WHAT WAS THE NAME OF THE MOVIE YOU WERE WATCHING???? I don’t recognize it from your description. . .
    BTW, I posted a rather long post today about Bad Poetry. Check it out: http://paulatohlinecalhoun1951.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/attention-all-poetry-readers-2/

    I decided not to put it on the EIB site because I thought you might feel the “Bad Poetry” example was in too bad a taste. . .oh well. Let me know! Sometimes crass crudenesss is the essence of bad poetry!

    This post of yours is good, though! And in good taste! And spot on! You hit a TRIPLE!!! It would have been a home run if you had only told us the name of the movie. . .

    • Well, if you’re really interested it was called Друг Мой Колько, and it was a Russian film from 1961. Watched it twice. Recognized more characters, but still didn’t get it. 😦

      How’s that? Home run?

      TY 4 plugging EIB, BTW! 🙂 Publicity is a wonderful thing. Hopefully it will bring more readers in and we can get this revolutionary bandwagon started.

  3. Thanks for satisfying my curiousity. I could have told you (if you had asked) that movie wasn’t worth watching. May I suggest a better Russian movie: лучше русских фильмов If you can’t find it, let me know.

    You have now received credit in my “Box Scores” for a HOME RUN!!!

  4. A+ and an apple for you, you linguistic dynamo, you! Don’t you just love how translators makes us all look like polyglots? Did you need one for my “Latin 101?” I did, but only for spelling purposes. . . Also, should I put either of my January Odes up on EIB? (Or just leave them to rust, unread on my own site! :-D) One’s a bit *tasteless* (But grade-school style). However, the other is squeaky clean – it creaks!!! (That DOES mean it’s clean, doesn’t it?)

    As far as the quip goes, think Henny Youngman. If you don’t know who he is, you are too young.

    • I’m afraid I’m too young (not to mention far too uninformed) to know who Henny Youngman is.

      And about Latin 101. I didn’t even try to translate it, ech, too much Latin 🙂

      Feel free to throw squeaky clean January Ode up on EIB, although I didn’t think it was that bad to be honest!!! I’m also afraid that the *tasteless* poem will offend rule number—I don’t remember what number it was to be frank. But you know which one it was. And if we offend one we may as well offend them all. And before you know it EIB is a seething ball of putrid, unreadable mire!!!!

      But you understand
      We must keep the laws of the land
      Or things get out of hand
      And start being goopy like quicksand,
      You understand,
      I’m sure!!!

  5. Me? Understand? I don’ speeka dee eenglish!!
    I understand quite well, actually, which is why I didn’t attempt to post them on EIB in the first place. My only concern is that in advertising for EIB on my blog, I might have inadvertently thrown someone off. Hope not. Shouldn’t be a big problem, though, because I have virtually no readers (except for the few, elite, high-quality folks like you). I do, however, feel quite insulted that you have not read my “Latin 101” – but by not doing so, you are in the majority. 😀

    For the education of the relative babes out there like yourself, who have never heard of Henny Youngman, I embed the following clip from YouTube. He was among the same ilk as all of the great “Borscht Belt” comics of the mid 20th century. His most famous one-liner is “Take my wife. PLEASE!” Anyway, this clip is just a taste. Hope you enjoy. Cheers, JP – I’m off now to pen a poem, post a blog article or two, and just generally get “enough” out there.

    • Ah, now I am enlightened!

      Don’t get me wrong, I did read your Latin 101, I just didn’t take the time to translate it. Latin ain’t my specialty. Post a Russian poem, and I’ll be a little more into it. Я люблю русский язык много больше чем латинский язык.

  6. Слишком плохо. У вас не хватает моего остроумные записи!
    Something tells me the translator did a terrible job on that bit. Hmmm. . .wonder if you know what I meant to say? BTW, what did I just say! By not Googling the Latin, you are missing out on all my wonderful witty repartee!

    • “Too bad. You don’t have enough of my witty recording.” Um, I think you mean “Witty remarks.” lol (And to be honest, I did use a translator for some of that…I’m not as good a linguist as you may think)

      The poem was rather witty, whether it was Latin, Pig Latin, Pig French, Basque, or Pig Basque!!!!

  7. I read this book and it was AMAZING! But you wouldn’t realize it until the end. While the characters were compelling, they were about the only compelling thing about the book. It was dry, and the character’s spent most of their time walking across the world, but then at the end it was like: BAM! and then your only reaction could be: HOLY COW!!! It made the whole SERIES amazing. It’s so amazing when something ends well, and then so disappointing when it doesn’t.

    • Hmm, sounds like a real hum-dinger of an ending!!!!! What was the book called?

      That’s a pretty good ending, if it can save a whole book/series! Wish I had that sort of talent.

      • I wish that too. It was The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. The book was really enjoyable because of the characters, but the plot was slow up ’till the end. Then it was BAM! It’s one of my all-time favorites.

  8. Have you ever seen the film “Murder By Death?” It’s an old spoof on exactly this topic. They parody all those old mystery novels like Miss Marple, Nick and Nora Charleston, Poiret, and how they always irritate their readers by revealing crime solving information in the last 3 pages making it impossible to solve the case beforehand. I use to read tons of Miss Marple books by Agatha Christie, and I LOVE this old movie.

    • Never seen it. It sounds obnoxious though. 🙂 That sounds like a terrible thing to do to your audience! It’s like putting a 100-piece puzzle in front of a child, and when they’re almost done, you show them the last three pieces that you hid and say, “Gotcha!!! I’m so clever! Weren’t you amused?” I think not. I watched it again, and it made more sense, but still…my point remains. 🙂

      Thanks for visiting!

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