The bad ending to a great story has great implications in my book.
I have read a number of books that I liked up until the last page, the final paragraph, the final sentence, a death sentence really. Even the definitive word on the page matters. For if I am fully engaged in the story, loving the characters, riveted by the plot, and the author does a 360 with a crappy ending – I’m finished – no longer singing praises for the book I once liked. The ending says it all. I can love the book, be totally into the characters, and then the whole thing gets all loused up for me by the ending.
I recently finished Shanghai Girls by Lisa See and I was left with an untidy ending. And that was okay because the author left room for imagination.
Same goes for movies. The ending is critical.
Twist the scenario and I can be not that into a movie, barely keeping interested and the whole thing spins around in my favor if that final scene is strong, poignant, worthy. If the book isn’t grabbing me, I just don’t finish it. I am not going to hang on until page 202 when it gets good. If you don’t have me in the beginning, I’m outta there. Which is too bad, I realize, I could be acing myself out of a good ending, right?
I don’t need a happy, rosy finish, just a damn good one that doesn’t have to leave me satisfied with the outcome for the character, just thirsty for more, intrigued, curious, moved out of my head into an imaginative state. Inspired. Like a good meal, fat and sassy.
I recently say the movie Another Year. The ending had the entire movie audience, gasping, is that it? Is that the end? Not a rosy finish, definitely not happy, but left me curious, questioning, talking about it with my friends as we walked out of the theatre. Like a good meal I was glad it was over because I had my fill, but I was left in a meddlesome state wanting more at the same time.
by J.G. McGlothern