A fork in the road

Endings, frankly, are a bitch. —William Goldman, Adventures in the Screen Trade, a book about scriptwriting

That’s the truth. The ending is the hardest thing to write, whether it’s a screenplay, novel, short story or epic poem. There are stories with great expositions, great complications, great characters, interesting locations. But how rarely it all ends satisfactorily. Face it, bad endings ruin so many stories.

I have two endings in mind for Entertaining Welsey Shaw, and I can’t figure out which way to go. In past drafts I’ve gone both ways. On some level both work. I’ve done a flip on this several times now. One way makes it one sort of a story, the other says something else. Both, I think, are effective. Just depends on what I want to say. (One is also darker than the other.)

I am sorely tempted to write both endings. Some copies of the book would  have one and some the other. The books would be otherwise identical. There would be no way to tell what you’re buying. Tee-hee. I don’t know if people would love this or hate it, but right now it seems the most interesting solution. Didn’t they make a movie of Clue with multiple endings? (Considering how that movie fared, maybe I don’t want to use that as my example when I pitch this idea to someone.)

I’m still a ways from taking that fork. I’m hoping as I near it, my direction will become more obvious. But if it doesn’t…Well, as Yogi Berra said, when you come to a fork in the road, take it.

And I always liked Yogi. Boo Boo, too.

One response

  1. Interesting post, John. I love the photo. Followers of Carl Jung might suggest you ask the book which way it wants to go. He might suggest that you dialogue with it, as in active imagination. That’s the best I’ve got. Keep writing! :)


    August 18, 2011 at 6:40 am

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