1. Jabby J
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    Jabby J Member

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    Predictability vs Creativity

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Jabby J, Nov 16, 2011.

    I wrote a short story where I was told the ending was fairly predictable. It wasn't my first choice in ending but I thought since my goal is to be published, maybe I should go the traditional route. I WAS going to have the ending be a type of "anti" ending where what would be thought of as a proper, predictable ending is not what happens.

    For example:
    What the story is now:
    A man is killed by another man who comes back as a ghost and gets revenge. The reader is satisfied through the killer's consequences and there is a big dramatic ending.

    What I was going to write:
    A man is killed by another man and the killer gets away with it. You as the reader don't like him and it is certain he should get what he deserves, but doesn't. There is no climactic ending; it just ends with the killer getting away with it. In fact the dramatic ending would be the murder and him leaving if there was to be one.

    On paper this may sound boring, but in terms of what is happening and making this true to life, I think this may be cool. My question is...

    a. will people read it?
    b. will it sell since it's not the normal a,b,c story line?

    I'm trying to find the line of being completely creative not only in the style of writing, but also structure and being able to sell my work in the long run.
     
  2. Nicholas C.
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    Nicholas C. Active Member

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    I think that there is something to be said for the unconvential ending. As you have already figured out, the first ending does sound a wee bit predictable... and from what I've seen in regards to what small-press publishers look for, you would probably be advised to stay away from anything remotely predictable.

    I've always been a fan of "the bad guy getting away with it" but, in your case, it seems like it would drastically change things (the supernatural element for example). Would you still have the ghost of the victim in the story somehow? Maybe you can keep the supernatural element inolved in some manner without having it get a predictable revenge. Just an idea...
     
  3. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    Eh... personally I tend to prefer the "traditional" ending over the unpredictable one. If you go the unpredictable route, you need to sell why you are going that route IMO. Like movies where the good guy dies in the end, there needs to really be a reason for that to happen... and not just "because that's life". Yeah, maybe it happens in life, but in that case life doesn't make a good story. I wish I could think of a movie or book where that happens and it's done well.

    In your case, maybe you could just really establish the "revenge" factor in your story with your MC. But at the end he doesn't get it and the message is that "revenge is bad, etc". And maybe you could also add in some plot where something happens to the killer where he redeems himself in someway... perhaps not even intentionally. For example, the killer by coincidence saves someones life right after the unsuccessful revenge attempt.
     
  4. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    I agree with Agentkirb you can't do it with the "because that's life" reason or it'll fail completely IMO. I have to admit I'm a sucker for a happy ending so I prefer the traditional ending. I usually read to get away from a world full of mean/evil people. However, if you did it right the other ending could work. Agentkirb had a good idea with the "revenge is bad" thing.
     
  5. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    I actually just thought of a good movie example. I saw the movie "3:10 to Yuma"... the remake that had Christian Bale starring. And pretty much everyone dies in the end, but it was still technically a good ending because the point of the movie was that the MC could've run away but he didn't. Another good example was "The Departed" I forget how the movie ended exactly, but I remember it being a twist ending and there was a point to the twist ending.

    You can avoid having an ending that is completely predictable while still having a "traditional, good guy wins" ending.
     
  6. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thesis + antithesis = synthesis. Can you undermine both?
     
  7. Devrokon
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    Devrokon Senior Member

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    Couldn't you work with it when you, perhaps, push forward the act that the villain got away with his act of evil for so long?

    Also, isn't revenge one of the basic sins? Isn't the destruction of the moral system of the main character the way in which the villain, even through his own death, wins?

    Just some thoughts.
     

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