1. Davylove21
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    Davylove21 Member

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    Short, melodramatic final sentences.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Davylove21, Jan 3, 2010.

    I can't stand them!

    Those little one liners at the end of reams and reams of text that is somehow supposed to either shock or absorb the reader really bug me! They're all too often used to give a 'point' to a short story, as if it needed one.

    Can't a short story simply be a moment of somebodies life, a brief thought even?

    Anybody else despise their (frequent) use?
     
  2. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    No I don't despise. They can be used well, they cannot, like most other methods. Yes, a short story can be what you just stated, IMO
     
  3. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    One-liners only annoy me if every long paragraph ends in one, or if every chapter in the book ends with a similar kind of 'clunk'.
     
  4. navyblue
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    navyblue Member

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    I once read a book where each chapter ends with a cliffhanger.
    Like the characters would be in mortal danger, and then in the first sentence in the next chapter they get away.
    It wasn't a bad book, but it was definitely the most annoying book I've ever read.:p
     
  5. Davylove21
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    Davylove21 Member

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    I suppose I just think they're a crutch and there is definitely a lust for melodrama in a lot of amateur writing.

    I'm talking really about sentences such as:

    "He was a ghost!",
    "She was her own face!" and the classically awful:

    "It was all a dream!".

    I made those up of course!
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Not really. Absent a plot, it isn't really a story. A plot implies a conflict or a struggle.

    Flash fiction often focuses on a moment in time rather than a story, but that's something else entirely.

    As to your main question, though, I agree. I blame it on video games and XTreme Everything (no, not really).
     
  7. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    Anything that sums up what the reader can figure out for himself is the kind of thing I think of as being too "telling." But what's too telling for me might be just the right thing for another reader, so I guess I'm kind of on your wavelength, Davylove.

    Your last question, though, is a very interesting one. I have asked this many times in response to a short story that's described by a reader or editor as being really good, but "just a vignette." And I've never really had a definitive answer. To my read, a really good vignette, or even a character study, is often far more interesting than a story that's got a plotline and story arc and climax and denoument--or whatever is traditionally considered a "story." And, IMO, the short story, in particular, is a great place for that kind of thing. So, my own, very personal answer would be a resounding "yes." Why on earth not? Where else, but in flash fiction or short story (even in a novel, for that matter--though novel consumers typically expect more traditional storyline outcomes)--would you deliver a beutiful, well-crafted "moment."

    By way of example (in a novel), my own view of Joyce Carol Oates's WE WERE THE MULVANEYS is that it is nothing more than an excellent character study of a family in a state of demise. It's been a while since I read it, but I believe it ends with a kind of resignation or acceptance. My only criticism of it is that it's not the kind of outcome I expected from a novel, and I kept waiting for all the usual suspects I anticipate a novel to offer. I think maybe Beckett's UNNAMABLE (even the entire trilogy, for that matter) might fall into the category of a story that doesn't deliver the usual storyline arc. To me, it was more an exceptionally unique reading "experience."

    In any case, I think there's plenty of precedent for excellence in storytelling that doesn't cover the traditional bases. My feeling is that short fiction is the very best place to experiment with this.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i can't stand the stupid ones, i love the really good zingers...

    as with everything great, or gawdawful, it all depends on the skill of the creator...
     
  9. Sophronia
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    Sophronia Member

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    I don't mind them - I used it in my own writing at times to emphasize a point - but if they're used too often, I agree it would get annoying.
     
  10. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    I love them. But most of the ones I see are stupid cliches; the 'ooh, he shot someone whilst saying something quotable' as someone on this forum called it. They let down the rest, and that's a shame, as some of them are brilliant.

    They're easier to remember, and make the character easier to understand, if they use less words. It also gives them either a good sense of humour or no discretion, which is a quick way to reinforce whether or not the readers like them or hate them.
     
  11. x_raichelle_x
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    x_raichelle_x Contributing Member

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    Sounds kinda like the writing equivilent of Horatio Cane in CSI Miami lol.
    But like everyone else said, they can be used successfully or horribly, depending on the quality of the writing and the context. =]
    x
     
  12. Davylove21
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    Davylove21 Member

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    A good example of a short story absent on plot would be The Invisible Japanese Gentlemen by Graham Greene. It's an excellent piece that is simply an observation of a couple and I long for the day when I'll be able to emulate such skillful writing!

    My main gripe with the two or three word final, revelatory sentences is that they seem to be the easy way out in a lot of cases. I find myself all too tempted by them and I can't say I've never used them. Of course, they do have their place, I just think they're too commonplace in a world where everybody seems to want to write the greatest short of all time.

    I suppose it doesn't help that my lecturers deride their use but they make a good point.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    barfaroo!!!

    that guy drives me to pray for deliverance to the porcelain god... i have to switch channels whenever he starts doing his idiotic head-slanted, glasses on-and-off, hammy to the max pontificatin'!

    same goes for the simperingly syrupy med examiner who agonizes over every body, addressing them with maternal endearments...

    the writers of that show should be blacklisted, imo...
     
  14. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    He is an example of the ones that make me cringe. But it's probably intended, as they also produce, or help with, CSI: New York. That's a lot less ridiculous, more realistic, so there's obviously a market for the crap on CSI: Miami.

    The classy examples are what probably appeal for both, so try and stick to ones that are actually clever, rather than arrogant, if you want people to like your character (use the emotionally painful insults for the characters you want your readers to hate).
     
  15. Darkom
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    Darkom Member

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    Like any cliches, clinchers can be terrible or excellent, depending on the story and the writer. I would say that if you must use them, vary them up a bit. I know I frequently end my chapters with single lines of rhetorical dialogue, a single sentence thought, or someone turning off a light (I think I've done that one three times in one story :D)

    So really, like most things, it depends.


    PS Ah, Gallow, good to see you here. If you are, in fact, the same GallowGlass I am thinking of. I apologize if you are not, of course :)
     
  16. writewizard
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    writewizard Contributing Member

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    I don't really notice things like this - but when I do, I only get botherd if they're a clitche, or something just really dumb. Interesting point though - I will have to start looking more often. :)
     
  17. Davylove21
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    Davylove21 Member

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    It probably boils down to my belief that a short story doesn't have to have a plot to be successful.
     
  18. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    You don't think Greene's short story had any type of plot whatsoever? To me the point was an older man, looking at the foolishness of youth with both resentment and pity. It has a beginning, middle and end and the development of both the narrator and the couple through the narrators observations. The reader gets glimpses of the narrator through his comparisons of himself and the young female writer. They can see that his own career has obviously not been nearly as sucessful as this young hopeful wants hers to be. To me the narrator both resents the fact that she is young and still has many opportunities, that he now no longer has, to make her dreams come true. But, on the flip side, through experience he knows how difficult the writing world is, and how likely it is for her to fail miserably with her plans, thus he pities and sympathizes with her at the same time. IT also protrayed the stereotype of strong women in that age, how strength to the narrator didn't show as curteous, kind, or true, but as pushy, abrasive, and stubborn. Quite telling of the era that he (Greene) was writing in.


    It does have a plot, even though the plot is very loose, there is development, there is something happening, and there is emotion, drama, and depth to the characters. Short stories don't have to have a tight plot like say The Lottery does, but there has to be soemthing to it, enough character development, and enough substance for a reader to latch onto.

    Cliche one liner endings are not good. Ending should feel natural, and usually melodramatic cliche one liners are not natural. I do think one liner endings do have their places in comedy and action type stories where it can be acceptable for a character to have a catch phrase and end the story with them saying it, as cliche as that is, sometimes cliche feels comfortable for the reader and can be used by the writer to their benefit. But for the most part, the norm not the exception, cliche anything should be avoided.
     
  19. Cataclysmic
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    Cataclysmic Member

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    I can't stand ones that tell us things really obvious, like, as you said "He was a ghost!" and I really hate using exclamation points in description or storytelling. Those are for dialogue only, IMO. It just feels like I'm trying to excite reluctant people into giving a damn. I usually enjoy ending stories with a longer scentence, more often than not a nod to a character, but not saying their name, more like the most striking thing about them that I used to introduce them eg:
    "And tourists out that day, enjoying the sea and sand, might have seen a teenage girl slipping through the crowds, her short red hair a glinting in the summer sun."
     
  20. Davylove21
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    Davylove21 Member

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    I'm not so sure that you just described a plot, bluebell. You analysed it almost the same way my class did but I'm not sure that it evidenced plot. I know you don't like it when I disagree with you but you shouldn't take it personally.

    I agree wholly with you, however, cataclysmic
     
  21. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    There aren't many. I think I've heard your username before, as well - either Bethesda forums or Total War forums, right?

    Scooby Doo has a lot of those, that's another example of how not to put these things in.
     
  22. Cataclysmic
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    Cataclysmic Member

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    A lesson in writing, perhaps. 1) Begin at Scooby Doo. 2) Go the other way :D:cool:
     
  23. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    Also, Calvino's delightful, but (I think) essentially plotless INVISIBLE CITIES. Isn't long, but well worth the read.
     

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