No, I’m still trying to write, so this is not the end of the blog. Sorry to disappoint ;-).
I wanted to talk about story endings. Some people think that writing a story is easier if you know the ending. But what do they mean by that? The ending, in most stories, is “And they lived” or “And they lived happily ever after” or something along those lines. Well, that’s easy. Do you start with “And they lived” and then decide who “they” are and what they lived through? Sort of I guess.
But I think the real question, for me at least, is what is the climax of the story. If you know that, then you might be able to work backward. Maybe. So how does one write the climax?
According to The Story Grid, the climax is the character acting on his crisis choice (best bad choice or irreconcilable goods) on stage. It is the active answer raised by the crisis (which is defined as the time when the character must make a decision that either moves the character closer or further away from the internal and external objects of desire). The climax is always a choice in reaction to the events in the scene/story arc. What the character chooses at the end of the story and beginning of the story should be opposite.
Okay, so we know the character’s choice is a reaction to events that happened before that moment and that choice leads to the character living through something (the end).
I’ve heard/read others describe the climax as the answer to the story question, will character achieve x or not? If yes, then it is an affirmation story and if no, then it is a prescriptive story. Let’s not get into affirmation versus prescriptive (and “affirmation” probably isn’t the correct word, but that’s what my mind came up with just now.)
I think it is good to know if yes the character lives or no it doesn’t, but I think maybe a better guideline might be to know what the story question is. Let’s talk Star Wars, Episode 4 for a moment. Our hero, Luke, wants [externally] to go to the academy to become a pilot and join the rebellion. Luke needs to [internally] confirm his self-esteem by becoming something other than a moisture farmer on a desert world out in the boonies of known space (or something along those lines). So, that might mean that the story question is, will Luke become a pilot and join the rebellion? And we all know the answer is yes, but shit happens in between point a and point c.
The ending of Episode 4 has Luke receiving validation (internal need achieved!) by way of the award given by Princess Leia. He did not get to go the academy, but he did become a pilot, because frankly, he was a pilot already and the rebels weren’t picky about credentials. If you had that ending and didn’t know the steps in between, would you be able to write a story that is complete and fulfilling? Maybe, if you’re really good at writing. I’m not, so I think I need a bit more to make things work. I can see the value in having the ending ahead of time, but not just the ending. I guess it’d be an interesting experiment to try.
Maybe I’ll post that experiment. Stay tuned!