1. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    Satisfying conclusion

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by doggiedude, Mar 30, 2016.

    I'm working toward the end of my WIP and was wondering if I could get some opinions on what people would find to be a satisfying ending for one of my characters. I feel like I've already explained so much of my various story arcs already but I'll go through this one again.
    The character begins the story as a quasi-terrorist/protester. He's arrested and jailed in some pretty awful conditions. He breaks out of jail with some outside help from his group. Later he becomes a real terrorist and kills some people. He finds the experience horrible and works to change his life. Years go by and he gets married and ends up donating spare time teaching kids, mostly ones that live on the street.
    Now his city is undergoing a flood and ...
    1) He dies helping some of his kids get out.
    2) The military rescue teams identify him when he tries to board the escape ship. Gets arrested again.
    3) Same as above but gets killed when they catch him
    4) Gets away to live happily ever whatever ... no happy endings in this world.
    5) Something else.

    I won't influence anyone with which one I like best.
     
  2. Witchymama
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    Witchymama Active Member

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    I think the first is more noble, but 2 and 3 both could be satisfying as well.
     
  3. IHaveNoName
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    IHaveNoName Active Member

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    Write them all, and pick the one you think works best. It's your novel, after all.
     
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  4. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    Sigh ... was really hoping to get some outside opinions. I think I'm leaning toward him getting on the rescue ship with the kids then having his fake identity discovered so he gets arrested and left behind.
     
  5. PassTheDrinks
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    PassTheDrinks Member

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    I agree, this is what I would do
     
  6. Wayjor Frippery
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    Wayjor Frippery Contributing Member

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    I guess it depends on whether you think he's been morally redeemed by his work with the kids or not. If you feel the character requires further punishment, go ahead and invoke 1), 2) or 3). You seem to have ruled out 4) on your own, which leaves 5), which is the one I'd go for. Nelson Mandela did some pretty dodgy stuff, went to prison for 27 years, changed his perspective on things while there, came out and became president of South Africa. People can and do change.

    Maybe your guy gets away with the kids but something happens that reminds him that he will always have to live with the pain of x, y or z, which may be punishment enough. Or maybe something happens that pulls him back towards being a terrorist - something awful and disillusioning (maybe the kids get killed and he lives).

    Why did he work to change his life? Was it because he couldn't stomach the killing, or did his core beliefs about his cause change? Maybe at the end he realizes that he hasn't changed at all, or maybe he realizes that only now has he learned lesson x, y or z. Or maybe you don't resolve it all. Maybe the soldier who recognizes him was also a terrorist and has also rebuilt his life with a new identity. Your guy's future is now in the hands of this new character. What was his/her relationship to our guy? How will he/she react?

    I hope there's something here you might find useful. Good luck with it!
     
  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I certainly can't tell you which of these endings would be the most satisfying . It's all dependent on how the story was written and what its purpose was. Any of these endings will work, if they fit how you have presented the story.

    You might want to achieve some distance on this before you decide what ending is best. Take a few months off, then go back and re-read what you've already written. Ask yourself a few questions. What, if anything, does your writing foreshadow? What is the main character's desire, or fear? What will your readers expect to happen?

    That doesn't mean you need to write a predictible ending, but you MUST write a satisfying one. The reader needs to close the book, happy that what should have happened did happen. That doesn't necessarily mean a happy ending, but it means the ending has to make sense of what came before.

    All the loose ends need to be tied up, all the major characters and subplots must be concluded, and all the questions your story has left in the minds of your readers need to be either answered or addressed in some way. (If the murderer has never been caught, that's fine ...but what you can't do is forget there has been a murder.)

    You must have either had or discovered a purpose to your story while you wrote it. Now is when that purpose finds its goal. Nobody else can tell you what that goal should be. Stay true to the story. Don't try to write by committee. Everybody will have an opinion, but the only one that counts is yours. Pick your favourite ending and MAKE IT WORK.
     
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  8. LinnyV
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    LinnyV Contributing Member

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    I swear this is possibly the most boring and cliche ending - the martyr trick. Tiresome and old for me.

    This would be frustrating. So cyclic. I might feel like I wasted my life reading this story.

    A combination of 1 & 2 - zzzzzzz...

    Agree, with frippery above. You've written this one off it seems, so why put it as a possibility?
    I mean, does it have to be a 'happily ever whatever'.

    How about gets away to live miserably ever after?

    How about just gets away and lives?

    There is some sort of strength in just existing and what this means in your world for someone like him. He sounds useful in that he wants to do good. So can't you just let the poor guy breath a bit longer and explore new possibilities that have the readers wondering?

    I'd go with this one for lack of a better option from above.

    I'm not very helpful.... :meh:
     
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  9. SethLoki
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    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

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    If you envision it as a Hollywood blockbuster, like I have here: I see him dying whilst saving the kids, but with the twist of the flood being caused by the action 0f some of the more radical former terrorist members of his old group.

    Formulaic, contrived and touching on ironic the ending I know but it seems to be the mass audience favourite (if not LinnyV's).

    Incidentally, what was your choice? Message me, I gots to know now...
     
  10. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I think the most satisfying conclusion would be to test his new resolve/see if he's really changed. Maybe during the flood he has the chance to save more kids if he does something immoral/violent/that the old him would have done. Or he can save his only family but only if he goes back to the gang. Something like that.

    So of your options I guess 2 is the closest, except I'd make him have to choose between getting arrested and doing the right thing.
     
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  11. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    :D This reminds me of my girl Elizabeth, which I think was true last time also. Except Elizabeth more or less gets a happy ending.

    You seems you don't want a happy ending. So, I would say, what is the saddest for him? Dying or jail I doubt are top on his list. He sounds like a guy that would happily die for the sake of the kids in that end scene.

    Plus, the idea of a trouble man finding a reason to live, only to die. It is more ironic and comedic than tragic. At least for the MC. I am a sucker for that kind of ending if I am being honest. Yet, no, I don't think it is tragic. That is why I am a sucker for it.

    True tragic I think would be failure. W williness to die for the sake of the kids and to fail to die or protect them. Which prompts survivors guilt/shame. Way worse than jail.. If again, tagic was the goal?
     
  12. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    My mistake with the sarcasm of the happily ever whatever thing. I only meant no happy endings because the planet itself is dying. The whole point of the novel is about what the government is doing to save as many people as possible. This character can NOT be one of the saved people. It wouldn't make sense within the framework of the story. I could send the children off with him believing they will be part of the saved group. Although, even if he believes it that might not happen.
     
  13. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ah. Well, then it is a man destined to die. You got the wrong focus for the end. He knows he is going to die ad I sense, he is okay with that. So his own perspective is boring. Someone that is going to die and is self aware of it and accepts it has no drama. I advice refocusing on another character. One that will live would probably be the safe bet. Someone that will be sad. Like if he was a terrorist that reformed. The end focusing on someone he helped, unaware of his past being sad that he isn't getting to go. That is a much better heart tug I think. Assuming that is what you are looking for.
     
  14. Ziggy.
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    Ziggy. Member

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    I think going for an ironic ending would make sense.

    He dies saving his children from a separate, unrelated terrorist attack.
     
  15. Kayla Hicks
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    Kayla Hicks New Member

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    I would say 1, 2, or 3 would be my best choices. I wouldn't say happy ending because the premise of the plot seems darker except for turning his life around
     
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  16. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    I finished my first draft and I went with him getting away but he's not going to enjoy himself on the other side.
     
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  17. Toomanypens
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    Toomanypens Member

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    I definately like the 3rd one
    Because the first one glorifies a terrorist too much
    The second has a repettitiveness to it that makes it pointless
    The third, leaves the audience with a question "can a terrorist ever redeem themselves?" and "or is it that we feel they never can?"

    Personally I'd never go full terrorist...
    I'd make him borderline, and more empathetic, like his family was killed cuz his unkle had a friend in it, who got into it cuz he llost his family, then they bombed the house and he lost everything he ever knew, and had to wander out alone.

    Some terrorist recruiter was like "you are not alone, allah is on your side, we will make you heard" and gears him up to be a suicide bomber (but the recruiter is too much a coward to give his life himself)
    Your MC then sort of figures out who he is, and rejects the bombing... but feels guilty he did nothing to STOP others, cuz he was still so angry...

    He later becomes a charity guy, saves their lives, gets caught, and due to a political MOMENT in the country, he becomes the SCAPEGOAT and is put on a falsified public trial like Lee Harvey Oswald, he is then kidnapped and found hung

    Or something like that...
    And you see the kids screaming in reaction to it, not understanding why, the man who saved them is so brutally murdered and left as a ... you know.

    ... Maybe end with two news stories
    One says blah blah was hung by the group that took him out of custody
    The other is a terrorist group making him a matyr, to convert another kid who lost their family


    The end point being the circles... Those endless circles... and how none of us really know the truth... and what is redemption, when there is murder, when there is hatred.
    Who are we as we continue the cycle...

    Maybe in the end, end up with two candidates, one against death, one for more of it, and a person voting who doesn't know
     
  18. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    Thanks for including this. Not once in any of my descriptions did I mention Muslim or any connection to a religion. Which is sort of the point of this character... it's all political terrorism and has nothing to do with religion.
     
  19. Toomanypens
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    Toomanypens Member

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    Ah, so you are going for political intrigue rather than social commentary? Thats a more entertaining route to take it I guess.
    Only problem is, IF he dies, it needs to be high profile enough for it to make sense. You can do that in your own story though, by slowly constructing this new terror group up for the audience, and creating the parallels and differences you want.

    Way I see it, you have
    - motives of the recruiter
    - motives of the terrorist character
    - political intrigue of this terror group and how and why it is striking fear into people to the level it does
    - motives of his wife or girl friend or whomever helps him be a teacher and inspires his heroism
    - the lives and days of these children (who are they, how do we relate to them?)
    - the media and political tensions of the nation
    - backstory of his family or upbringing and how and why it matters (was it a blissful home? or was it flawed, but once taken away he realised how much he had taken away?)
    - backstory of people at the place he may have bombed, so the audience feels the full weight of his crimes
    - how he got away with it, and how and why he was caught (maybe there is a detective searching for the man in the hood, who got away, and he has been obsessed with finding him, cuz maybe his daughter was killed in one other bombing)

    Definately a good story in there somewhere
     
  20. HelloImRex
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    HelloImRex Contributing Member

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    2 or 3
     
  21. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Think about what the purpose of the story is, what your characters goal in the book is and if you want a happy ending, a tragic ending, a bittersweet ending, some kind of a trail off ending, a cliffhanger ending... What feeling do you want the reader to walk away with after having read? There's really no way for us to tell you this, since it's something you need to decide.
     
  22. Yoav
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    Yoav Member

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    I think 1 and 2/3 combined should be best.
     
  23. Sidetrack
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    Sidetrack Member

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    He gets kidnapped by black ops funded by corporate criminals. They give him his assignment. He will commit a false flag attack against his own country. Now you can write the sequel.
     
  24. Mr DC
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    Mr DC Member

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    I'd say number three but then again, I'm not satisfied until most characters are either dead or miserable.
     
  25. ToDandy
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    ToDandy Contributing Member

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    I was always taught, "Give the readers what they want in a way they won't expect."

    Don't misinterpret this as always give a happy ending. What this really means is give an ending that won't leave the reader feeling cheated and that feels organic to the story, but do it in an unexpected way.

    Which of those endings really works with the themes and context of the rest of the story? How does that impact everything that preceded it and strengthen that? Based on your examples

    1) Saving the kids gives a redemption to the character. Are you telling a redemption story about a man overcoming past evils? Does that fit the theme?

    2 & 3) Is your story about how a man cannot escape his past sins? Is that why he gets captured in the end? He cannot run from his crime.

    ^It all depends on how it plays into the rest of the story and what themes and threw lines you have been enforcing.
     

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