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Which Ending?

  1. Ending 1 (see below)

    5 vote(s)
    71.4%
  2. Ending 2 (same)

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. Both (somehow)

    2 vote(s)
    28.6%
  1. The Piper

    The Piper Contributor Contributor

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    Two Endings

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by The Piper, Mar 6, 2020.

    Hi everyone!

    Big spoilers ahead for anyone who wants to read/is currently beta-reading my book Thrall, so feel free to read on but this will give away most of the plot and all of the ending(s). Basically I've got two options for my last chapter and I wondered if anyone would take a look at them and let me know what you think!! Not asking anyone to decide my ending for me, but if it's clear people have a preference for one or the other that'll definitely help me figure this out.

    The plot (as much as you need, anyway): farmhouse overrun by zombie worms that later infect a dead man, if they get out the zombie virus whatnot will spread etc etc. Sidenote: the (un)dead man was a nasty piece of work in real life who stole a car on his way to the farm and murdered two people.

    The story "ends" with the whole farmhouse burning down, a little cliché but I'm working on it that's not too important, don't focus on that for now. The important thing is that 2 family members (out of 5) survive, make it out of the fire, and to the stolen car. The two survivors are Nancy (little girl) and Gerald (grandad). Here's where I need to decide what option to take:

    1. Once they get in the car, Nancy realises she's been infected. She keeps it quiet, Gerald doesn't notice, and they calmly drive away.

    2. The police officer on the trail of the murderer (following the plates on the stolen car) arrives at the farmhouse, sees Gerald and Nancy with the car, and the fire, and shoots Gerald thinking he was the villain.

    It might be possible to sneak in both, but I'm not sure I want to end on two "oof" moments in case that comes off a little heavy-handed.

    Hope this is clear enough, any questions feel free to ask but I'd hugely appreciate any opinions. Thanks as always!

    Piper
     
  2. TheOtherPromise

    TheOtherPromise Member

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    Personally I like ending 1 better. It places the emphasis on the infection.

    Ending 2 makes it so that the murderer is more important (which doesn't really feel like the case from the blurb you provided) and unless you are following the police officer it might feel out of nowhere if he just randomly shows up at the end to kill one of the heroes. I don't know how to explain it, but ending 2 doesn't feel satisfying to me. (Keep in mind I mostly only know about your story from what is posted here.)
     
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  3. Madman

    Madman Senior Member

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    Ending two seems a bit weird. Why would the police officer shoot Gerald straight away, even if he thinks he's the villain? I guess you have something here that would explain why, like Gerald having a gun and the officer panicking or something, if that is the case I would like to vote both.

    Both would be the most shocking ending, which I personally like. Leaving the little girl alone and infected is horrendous, but makes for good drama.
     
  4. The Piper

    The Piper Contributor Contributor

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    Thanks both so far for replying, really helpful to hear your thoughts. He would have a shotgun in hand, and my thinking was that in their desperation to get away he makes a gesture that looks like he's pointing it at the officer. That, coupled with walking out of a burning building with a little girl etc, and the officer panics. It seems though so far we're preferring option one, and it would definitely be easier to carry off realistically I think. Looking forward to some more opinions, thanks again to you both!
     
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  5. Fervidor

    Fervidor Member

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    Neither is really my sort of thing, but the first one strikes me as preferable. The second one doesn't really feel like a proper ending; it's the sort of event that changes the plot rather than concludes it. Plus, it sounds like a Diabolus Ex Machina where you have one of the surviving characters shot seemingly only to force a sadder ending, and I kinda hate when stories do that.
     
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  6. JimS

    JimS Banned

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    What's the theme of each ending that you are going for, in order to pick?
     
  7. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    1. Definitely 1. I usually, maybe not always, hate it when the protagonist survives all the way to the end and gets a bullet in the head, mistaken for a monster. I call it Night of the Living Dead Syndrome.
     
  8. Some Guy

    Some Guy Manguage Langler Supporter Contributor

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    Option 1, only because 2 doesn't work for a serious piece. Junior High English class, maybe.
    That said, I want to smack the shit out of you for infecting Nancy! :p
     
  9. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    That sounds very contrived, honestly. And when there's the death of an important character involved, you need it to come as naturally as possible and cohesive with the plot. If you have to engineer it like this, then that tells me it's a bad ending. Don't do shock or drama for the sake of it.

    What's the story? Is it about justice for the murdered? Is it about fear of an epidemic? The ending should be about whatever your story is.

    A scam of a story editor once taught me something quite valuable, which is "What is story?" It isn't about the events of the book. It isn't about making an event look or feel exciting. It's about the journey of the character. She gave Frozen as an example and why Frozen 2's ending didn't really work (I agree with her). Frozen was all about Elsa finding her place amongst those whom she loves, despite being utterly different and extraordinary, her place belonged with her family, exactly where she was. Frozen 2 undoes all of that by saying, "Actually, try as you might, you're still too different and you definitely don't belong with ordinary folk, so here's some magical place you can be instead." Which, in essence, confirms Elsa's greatest fear that she was supposed to have resolved in the first film. It's about her relationship with her sister and in the second film they are basicaly split apart.

    So, what's the journey in your book? What are you trying to say? Now, which ending serves to portray that the best?

    Personally, Nancy being infected sounds a lot better on the surface. It also sounds like a very ordinary horror ending. But the best ending is one that completes the story, not necessarily one that's most "exciting" or even "original." People do not want either. They want one that is satisfying to the story they have invested so much into.
     
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  10. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'll assume Some Guy is one of your beta readers. If this is the reaction you'd be getting from one of your readers on your ending, I think that shows you're on the right track ;)
     
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