1. Jo Jo Jay
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    Jo Jo Jay Member

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    Unsure of a fitting ending.

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Jo Jo Jay, Feb 28, 2016.

    So I have been fleshing out a plot for a story I want to write eventually, but I'm having trouble with an ending that will fit the story and be somewhat satisfactory. Here's the general rundown:
    A man who can see when someone is struggling with deep fears, insecurities, emotions, etc. through their eyes, and can delve into people's minds and interact with the environment in their minds to learn about them or change something about them. After years of seeing the troubled minds of troubled people, he becomes depressed and afraid of what he will see next but does not stop because he feels it is his purpose to do this. He accidentally causes a boy who he was trying to help to go insane and is sent over the edge. He induces a coma in himself by diving into his own head, and decides he will destroy or, at least, block off whatever allows him to invade another's mind. But being in his own head doesn't bode well with his mental state, and over time he slips into insanity...

    In the end, I had envisioned him succeeding in destroying/blocking his ability, but becoming insane for his efforts. He eventually awakes from his coma, but is completely insane at this point, and is sent to live out the rest of his days at a mental institute.

    The big problem I'm having is deciding if I should change the ending or not. This was a story that screamed to me a not-so-happy ending, but I'm worried that it wouldn't be a satisfactory, acceptable ending. My goal is for the reader to love the character, but be able to see the path he is going down to a point. Even so, I don't want the ending to be too predictable, and I want the reader to come to the ending and be struck with sadness for the character, but not be angered that I made such a thing happen. I don't want the reader to go "WTF man that ending was lame!" when they read it.

    This is an idea that, when I flesh it out more and clearly define my characters and plot points, I would like to turn into a novel. Thoughts?
     
  2. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    That sounds like a fine ending. Maybe add some degree of metaphor here, like it's a message that understanding insanity experientially is damaging because you have intimacy with brokenness? That some powers aren't as cool as they sound? I don't know, something nihilist or whatever? Follow that trail is my suggestion. Make sure it feels like it means something. Doesn't have to be super-meaningful but a little messaging is good for a story.
     
  3. Jo Jo Jay
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    Jo Jo Jay Member

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    I get what your saying. I was also playing around with the ending being his funeral with a bunch of the people he helped coming to it. I figured that could give it meaning but that might be a bit cheesy.
    But I'll definitely heed your advice. Thank you!
     
  4. Feo Takahari
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    Feo Takahari Active Member

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    The ancient Greeks would disagree with me on this, but I don't think tragedy really works unless there was some way a different character in the same situation could have avoided it. I once read a book where the main character was inevitably doomed to become evil and be damned to Hell based on something that happened right after his birth, and I grew increasingly frustrated as the author closed off every possibility, not just for him to escape, but for there to have ever been hope for him. Tragedy should be about flaws and weaknesses, people brought low by their own natures, not smashed into the ground by the giant fist of fate (read: the author.)*

    Your character description sounds like you want readers to sympathize with this particular character's fall. Your plot description sounds like there was never any way for a character with this powerset not to lose his mind. If you're going to go down that route, find a way it could have gone differently, even if it doesn't. Show how the character destroys himself, and what parts of his own nature make it impossible for him to save himself.

    *Fiction that's based on real issues and openly advocates societal reform can often get away with the giant fist of injustice, but unless you're writing an elaborate metaphor for poverty or racism, I don't think that's relevant here.
     
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  5. SethLoki
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    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

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    I agree with @Oscar Leigh , the ending although a tragedy I think can stand on its own. If you want to add the standard kind of reversal you could allude with your final words that: as the meds kick in his ability re-emerges but with a newfound control that he can put to good use right there helping in the hospital. A kind of atonement and him at last discovering his calling.
     
  6. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    It doesn't have to be a nice meaning. Lovecraft did this kind of stuff and it was precisely to produce that despair. He was exploring despair and darkness and humanity in a cosmic sense.
     
  7. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Well, it depends on what the tragedy is supposed to achieve doesn't it? Lovecraft's work is kind of tragic because it often ends badly, and the universe of it, the Cthulhu Mythos, is supposed to essentially destroy humanity eventually I think (or at leas that they might?). A tragedy that is caused by character failings says more about the character less about the situation. A tragedy caused by a terrible situation says more about the situation and less about the character. (In terms of what the tragic element does, not saying that difference affects whether the characters are deep.)
     
  8. Cervo
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    Cervo New Member

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    I really like the idea for the story and there are better answers to your dilemma here than I could come up with. I think what might help taking them into consideration in your story would be to clarify the story of the boy more. 'Sent to insanity' is a little vague and from how I see it, hard to sympathise with if it is not painted clearer. I believe that when this subject is clarified, the rest will be easier to work with. Good luck!
     
  9. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I usually have a idea for an ending when I start and then let the idea change if I feel it necessary. I had two tragic endings for two of my novellas and switched them while writing because I felt they didn't match the whimsical tone. Plus I agree with Feo - tragedy needs a reason, a good reason to justify itself. Despite what people like to think most people want two things - justice ( someone getting what they deserve ) or forgiveness.
    I would start writing and see where it goes. There's also a third possibility to of changing the tragic ending by making it bittersweet - that even though he's gone crazy he's trapped in a fantasy world he likes. Kind of like Blanche at the end of A Streetcar Named Desire.
     
  10. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    But some tragedy can be about a greater meaning of the world or universe. It should have meaning. But it doesn't have to be positive or about specific people.
     
  11. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I still think it has to make some reflection to the characters or else what's the point. Take To Kill a Mockingbird it shows three kinds of justice at the end bringing together it's theme that justice is only as good/bad as the people wielding it( * Spoilers * )
    The first one is a tragedy, a failure of the courts. Tom is convicted despite evidence and then killed 'running'.

    But rather than end on that negative note Lee has the final scene showing us what happens when a kind of divine justice and compassion enter the equation. The man who instigated Tom's case, Bob Ewell, tries to kill Jem and Scout and winds up getting killed by Boo. That's a kind of divine justice. And through compassion ( the right people wielding justice ) his killing is turned into an accident and Boo isn't prosecuted.
    It says a lot but remains true to its characters and story.
     
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  12. Death2ignorance
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    Death2ignorance Member

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    I think tragedy is a fine way to end a story, and if you always envisioned a not so happily ever after ending you should stick to it. That said, if you are looking for an alternative to what you already have then I would suggest having him deal with his insanity while he is in his mind. it sounds like throughout your story you are showing the emotional toll this ability is taking on his psych, let his coma be the apex of his emotional journey wherein the depression he has surrounded himself with mixes with the grief over the damage he has caused through his mistakes and pushes him to relinquish his power.

    having made the decision he wakes from his coma and faces the world, at first happy to be free of his burden, but a lifetime with this ability has allowed him to see the signs of depression in others without supernatural intervention. Only now he is powerless to help those around him deal with their grief. I would have someone close to him enter a deep depression, and narrate how he still tries to help them. Only without his ability he fails, and they take their own life. you could end it similar to what Jo Jo Jay said with a funeral for the person who took their own life. attending are many of the people he had helped, but all he can see is someone lying in a coffin because he couldn't shoulder the weight of his gift.
     
  13. Jo Jo Jay
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    Jo Jo Jay Member

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    Thank you all so much for your thoughts! It's very helpful and I'm very grateful. :D
     
  14. PBNJDraftNumbA
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    PBNJDraftNumbA Member

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    First, I am new to the writing sphere. My knowledge and application of it is sub par at best. But I really like your concept, even the original ending.

    The first characters who jumped into my mind are: Mel Gibson's from What Women Want; Scarecrow from Batman; and Williams' Patch Adams. And there is that Count from the Arrow TV series. But Patch Adams' predicaments exemplify your character's good intentions and the consequences of his trying to make things better. He knew the patients, he was one. But drastic things happened, leading him to a cliff (physically and metaphorically), where he contemplated suicide. But despite his eccentricities, blunders, and losses; Patch was a compassionate soul, a contagious one.

    I see your main character as being driven by curiosity and (eventual) compassion. But he measures the cost, eventually choosing to _______. Regardless of that major decision, I think your best ending would be to have his last scene with him crazy, but not creepily gone. Rather, we (readers/watchers) see it as a symbol of selfless sacrifice. It reminds me of the woman who marries the invalid, choosing to care for him. Only, she has moments of wanting to quit or go back. Likewise, your character is at his core good. He becomes a needless martyr for the sake of others; ironically, though, it is his gift/study/empathy that helped in the long run. But every war has casualties, normally civilians are involved. Like Patch, your main character invests in others, hoping for good, but the battle of the mind takes a toll-- on both parties.

    As for the funeral ending, that does not allow for a sequel.
    Whereas you could have a sequel where it begins with him dying, but pointing to an envelope that takes a younger character into a similar but very different journey.
     
  15. Ochalis
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    Ochalis Member

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    I think your idea is great, personally. But I had an idea for an ending. It's not very polished, mind you, just a basic concept. If I may: Delving deep into his mind and memories, he finds that, in truth, he has been insane all along. He has been in some manner of mental institution, and in his loneliness, created an imaginary reality as an escape. Unable to comprehend such a warping existential threat, he forces himself to return to his fantasy, content in his delusion.

    Just a fun little thought. Do with it what you will. :D
     

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