I talk to my eighth grade students about endings.
I teach them about Deus ex machina.
In ancient drama, a god would often be lowered onto the stage
To deal with complications and make messes turn out okay.
In their case, this refers to plot devices such as “it was all a dream,”
Or “and then a bomb fell, and everyone blew up.”
No, they say,
Sometimes it is just a dream,
And you wake up and it’s all gone away.
And sometimes everything really does blow up.
I introduce the concept of Chekhov’s gun,
Which says that if there’s a gun hanging on the wall in chapter one
it needs to go off in chapter two or three.
They don’t argue this one.
They’re all for guns going off.
You need to write a story this time, I say,
Where there is a resolution.
It doesn’t have to be happily ever after,
But you have to wrap things up,
Instead of writing “to be continued”
When you lose interest in your plot.
No, they tell me, I don’t understand.
The best endings are “to be continued.”
On TV it’s always “to be continued,”
There’s always another episode.
Then you know something else is coming.
It’s not over.
Maybe that’s one of the differences between 14 and 48:
They want another episode,
Excitement and plot twists,
“To be continued.”
I want everybody home safely in time for dinner,
Peace and quiet:
Of course on this one they’ll get what they want
And I won’t.
The action doesn’t stop.
The characters and settings keep changing.
Until you’re dead,
It’s always “to be continued.”
Ruth, from thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com
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