Sunday, June 14, 2015

I Predict...

Is a predictable ending a good or bad thing?

This question comes from a 2011 rejection letter where the agent requested my full manuscript of "Lane Changes" and then wrote back a nice letter saying what she loved about it then added, "the ending was a bit too predictable for me." We are in the process of making a 500 mile move and this rejection letter fell out of a file folder as I was going through our filing cabinet. I kept it because she was the first person to ask for my full MS and I'm still so proud and happy that someone liked it enough and thought of my voice as unique and fresh to want to read the whole thing. So, it wasn't 100% for her: in the end, you are entitled to your own opinion :-)

I have since changed this story drastically, adding in some mystery and more tense moments and while the ending may still be predictable, there are more in the series. I'm also working on other books branching off of LC with some very unpredictable endings--culminating in book that will be the end of the series...but that is WAAAAAY down the road.

Yes, the first book has a predictable ending because the character is predictable, she is 17, doesn't like change but she HAS to change in order to meet her goals as obstacles keep getting in her way. Why is this a bad thing?

The books "One Day" and "Elegance of a Hedgehog" come to mind as very UNpredictable endings. I was so pissed off when I read those endings. "One Day" practically went sailing across the room and I never reread it or saw the movie because I was so angry. "Hedgehog" I sat stunned then wondered why in the world this French author would write a story like this only to have it end "like that"? In the end, if you strip it down, the author did a magnificent job coaxing out these emotions from me or any other reader and that's the sign of a good writer.

I believe another sign of a good writer is to give the reader a sense of closure, satisfaction. Many of us crave that Happily Ever After (HEA)/predictable ending. Why? It could be the genre we prefer, or we had a horrible life and want to live vicariously through someone else for a bit, or it's just because we want to see something happy in this chaotic, crazy world.

1 comment :

  1. I think it depends on when the reader knows how the story is going to end as to whether or not the predictable ending becomes a bad thing. If they guess it too early and events play out just as they suspected, then they might be dissatisfied because they weren't given anything new. If they want it to end a certain way, as in they predict it will end a certain way, but are left hanging with doubt until the end, it makes it a satisfying HEA. At least that's my opinion. Who knows?