Skip to main content

Writers Challenge

Most reading my blog realize that I grew up Baptist, but have recently left the denomination for the local Free Methodist church. At my new church, I'm involved with the drama department, and have written my first play for them (I'll tell you more about the play in later weeks).

Happy Dog in the Deep Snow
The director of the plays made a comment about most Christian plays: they have to have a happy ending. The lost get saved; the sick are healed; the marriages are restored. There is always a good defined ending to these plays because people want those sort of endings. For example, at my former church, I wrote a skit where I purposefully left the ending unresolved. When I showed it to the assistant pastor, he wanted me to write the ending in such a way that people knew what happened.

He completely missed the point of the play, and the very point I wanted to offer: we don't always know what will happen, we just need to follow Christ. It was one of those moments in which I realized just how complacent individuals are especially in the church. It is as though we must be given pureed food at all times, because we are unwilling to chew.

I learned something from the response I received, as well as from plays that the church did put on where everything was resolved at the end: Christians need happy endings, loose ends tied-up, and nothing to make them think. Even the ones who claim they like to think rarely want to think at the end of a dramatic production, or through a novel. Quite honestly, thinking seems to be one of those skills sadly lacking in the church currently.

Not saying that there aren't places, but it is something that writers targeting Christians must bear in mind when they begin writing.

Lack of thinking is also a common ailment among most Americans regardless of creed. We are, by and far, not a reading culture. We like to have our information in short bites where we can learn quickly. I'm just as guilty of this as anyone else is; if someone gave me a long essay or five bullet points in an article, I'd read the article over the essay.

How do we as writers combat this slide away from complex thoughts? Truth be told, I'm still trying to figure it out myself. I've gone ahead and written plays where the endings leave individuals considering what happened, and they have done poorly. I've written the happy ending plays and they do better.

Since I primarily write novels, I find it easier to leave the questions within the novels; if the character doesn't know what to make of something it is easier to leave questions unanswered. I have five ways that I counter the happy ending expectations with my desire for contemplation.
  1. Allow some happiness in the ending. This is what my editor suggested for Azure Maris in the first book: give the reader something that is good. Originally, Azure met with the ambassador from Deep Waters; in the published version, she meets one of her family members. It's a happy closure, but not a happy ending to the book. Think of this as having more darkness than light.
  2. Ignore the happy ending. Sometimes, the story cannot have a happy ending so ultimately, you have to ignore the expectations and proceed. In these stories darkness predominates with maybe only a sliver of light.
  3. Give the happy ending. Just give up and give the people what they want. Honestly, for certain places this is all you can do, and pray. This is the sunshine and roses type of ending where everything is bright and cheery.
  4. Give a happy ending ... with some minor adjustments. Sometimes the best way to do the happy ending thing is to allow some elements to remain unanswered. This might come in the form of a character or plot element not having the answers. This one is similar to number one, with more light than dark.
  5. Create a series. Only slightly tongue in cheek here. If you create a series you can allow your characters to enter into a darker plain before rising ultimately to the expected happy ending. This is most commonly used in fantasy.
Ultimately, how the story ends is up to you as the writer. You need to determine what will happen based on what you want to express and what your characters tell you. As the story progresses you might find that you want to have the bright sunshine ending, but you also might realize that the darkness is more powerful to achieve the storyline. Whatever you do, make certain it fits the story. Not all stories have happy endings, and the audience, by far will understand that - they may not like it, but they will understand it.


Popular posts from this blog

Chapter Four - The Board and Council

The town center was the oldest and grayest part of the town, though, even there the buildings were still colorful with the stone buildings being blue-gray, pink-gray and lavender-gray. In the center of town, marking the absolute center of the town, was a park area with a fountain in the center, the fountain led down into an underground grotto which was currently overflowing with people not unlike the fountain above it. “Looks like it’s connected,” Ramses said. “I think Mederei said it was had healing properties.” “That would be the place to look for the tapestries.” “Mama,” a child whispered loudly. Why was it when children whispered they yelled? “Why is that man so brown?” “Shh, honey, he’s probably from the capital region.” “No, Mama, they’re black, he isn’t. He’s brown, and scary looking.” The boy, blonde haired and blue eyed like his mother, was probably from the town. It was said that on the Isle of Caergwl├ón, the darkest were those in the capital and from there, they lost their color…

Chapter Twenty - Bastllyr

Sorry for the delay on publishing, but here is the next chapter in Mederei's adventures. Currently, I have finished the book (wild cheering), but I have come to the conclusion that I need to improve my battle scenes. To that end, the upcoming chapters may not be ... as high of quality as I hope. 

“Climbing up the hill we go, we go; along the merry paths we go, we go. Sunshine fading, 'ventures waiting, up we go, we go,” Mederei sang, slightly off key as they climbed. “Can't you think of a better song than that?” Caradoc grumbled, four steps ahead of her. “But it's perfect. We're climbing up the mountain to the sunshine and the god.” “You've been singing it nonstop for the past ten minutes. Come up with another song. Anything.” “It might have been me there with you; it might have been me, and my dreams coming true.” “UGH!” “You wanted another song.” “Anything but that sappy song! It gets stuck in your brain ...” They walked in silence around a series of large boulders o…

Chapter Nineteen - Negotiations

And we're back! Apparently my computer was sick, needed a reboot and now I'm in the process of organizing it all over again. Ah well. 

She was annoyingly brilliant, stubborn and naive; he was equally brilliant and stubborn, but not as naive. Kiango and Mederei were too valuable to the kingdom to remain in constant battles, but that's where they often found themselves. Both trying to solve a problem to help their families, friends or kingdom, but often going about it the completely opposite ways. Both had the power and prestige related to their families, and both wielded that power in strange and unusual ways. Kiango used his influence to lead the younger members of the society, but unlike other members of the royal family, had little magic. Mederei's magical power had to remain regulated and hidden because of the rules. How much of Mederei's ability Kiango knew about though ... They would always remain in conflict with one another, but there had to be some way they c…