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Happily ever after? Editor's Notes #219
September 15, 2016
Hello,

The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily.
That is what Fiction means.

-- Oscar Wilde


In this issue:

1. Happily ever after
2. Tickled my funnybone
3. Interesting Web site
4. Writing prompt

1. Happily ever after
An episode of one of my favourite TV series ended with not one of the plot threads resolved. This is a series that deals with a new subject each week, which meant that the viewer could never expect a resolution.

I felt off balance for a moment or two when they rolled the credits. Then I had to acknowledge that although there was no happily ever after, there was a sense of completeness. Reflecting on what made the writers' decision acceptable in this case, I realized that the main character is very private about her personal life to the point of completely ignoring many direct questions and replying with a redirect to another topic. The example of an unresolved problem fed into her over-all personality.

One of my specialties is children's literature. At least for young children, the rule is that there must be some happy resolution. Even if the parent dies of cancer, the child must find peace before the book closes. It may be possible to break that rule when writing for older teens, but in general, happily-ever-after stands in kidlit.

If you write for adults, you can push the envelope when it comes to typical fairy tale endings, especially if you have built a character for whom loose ends and personal secrets are a keystone.

And if you write nonfiction, I encourage you to end not with a neatly tied bow, but with what one of my university professors demanded at the end of each assignment: a lingering question.

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2.Tickled my funnybone
Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.
--Oscar Wilde
(Thank you to AH for this. You know who you are.)

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3. Interesting Web site
Not about endings, but beginnings, and a contest to boot.

http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/

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4. Writing prompt
If you are ever tempted to think there is only one possible ending to a story, read this discussion of Pygmalion:
http://www.syaross.org/writings/nonfiction/pygmalion.html.
Then choose a story you know well, and write an alternate ending.

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