Write your own ending

27 07 2013

Have you ever paused a TV show and written your own ending?  Not just saying at the end “I knew that was going to happen” but actually taken some time to identify all the plot lines and pull them all together in the half hour remaining before another antiques program comes on the box?

I don’t do it enough.  I have hundreds of ideas for stories, scenarios and characters all bubbling along – some on scraps of paper, some still unformed in my head.  Sometimes the whole story appears in my mind fully formed but mostly they are just ideas, a scene, a simple key sentence.  Working out how to move them forward, link some together is about practise.  Practising your craft is not just about writing  that beautiful phrasing, alluring alliteration, it’s about finding the twist, the think that keeps the reader turning the page, seeking your name on the railway station shelf.

It was quite easy with Titanic – the ending seemed to write itself – but should it have been so easy with Avatar? Should a TV murder come so easily? At times yes – the daytime hour from the US varies from the easy (the aging star wouldn’t be in it just for a bit part) to the totally impossibly obscure (one clue, nearly offscreen in the first scene is the key to it all).

However, the quality of multi-episodal TV drama writing these days makes it satisfying to think through the ‘correct’ ending – the spy thwarted, the murderer caught – but how much more satisfying it is to do it differently?  How much better to watch the final episode a week later, reach the end and then say “my ending was better!”?