Monday, August 5, 2019

Alternate Endings

Alternate Endings

from Writer's Digest

Why do I want to even consider alternate endings? Simply because I can! It sounds innovative, and exciting, and I am currently planning on doing this with a stand-alone mystery. (It would end up looking like utter nonsense if I did this in a mystery series!)

The ending of a story brings things together for the reader - it makes them want to read more of the author's work, and it makes the time spent reading the story worth it. (Think beginning, middle, end as part of a succesful cycle.) So why present more than one ending? Because it makes life intresting, for both the author and the reader. They get to flex their imaginations and see what could have been, and what could be. IMHO, used selectively, it is an excellent writing tool.

We see this in movies, and we see this on the stage. I am going to keep this discussion to alternate endings in stories and books.   What are alternate endings? They are endings that perhaps weren't planned, but that take the place of the planned ending. The storyline leads in one direction, the alternate ending is not dependent on what was presented in the story.

Why do we want to use alternate endings? We want an effective ending to our stories - we want the reader to feel that the story has been brought to an acceptable, realistic end. When we present alternate endings we can either take the facts in the story and reinterpret them, or we can bring in previously "hidden" facts. We still have to make the ending fit the characters. We aren't going to have Little Bo Peep running off to join the army!   

My issue with alternate endings is how to present them. In my short story (see link below) you will see that I simply defined each ending as "Ending Number One" and "Ending Number Two". In my book, I will present the endings in two separate chapters.

Examples of books with alternative ending include: "Meanwhile" (Jason Shiga), the "Choose Your Own Adventure" series (a game book series by R.A. Montgomery), "The French Lieutenant's Woman" (John Fowles), and "Hopscotch" (Julio Cortazar). 

Here is a recent flash fiction that I wrote with alternate endings: Finding Me

What do alternate endings bring to you? Do you even want them on your plate? 

(c) August 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author.

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