Friday, October 21, 2011

Fiction Friday: On Endings

Today I have a devotion running at Proverbs 31. If you've stopped by after reading, welcome! If you'd like to read some further thoughts on today's devotion, scroll down to read my "Psalms For Moms" post I ran on Wednesday. I shared a perspective on that same Scripture from author Emily Freeman. She's got some great insight.

On Fridays around here, I talk about one of my big passions: writing fiction. Today I'm talking about endings-- how they're not always neat and tidy, in life or in fiction. One of the criticisms I've gotten for She Makes It Look Easy is that readers don't like the ending. They wanted me to wrap it up more-- to show what happened to all the characters. But I didn't feel like that was a real representation of life-- at least for me, life doesn't get all wrapped up at the end like a sitcom. Some stuff seems to come to a close, while other things are left hanging. And that's how I left it with Ariel and Justine. You think you know what happened but... you're not totally sure.

I felt a bit bad about these reviews (about people finding fault with the ending) until I read a perspective on one of Jesus' parables, the Prodigal Son story in Luke 15. The author of the essay I read noted that that story ends (and I had to go look this up to find that it's totally true) with the older brother on the porch. Jesus never tells us whether he chose to go inside and join the party or whether he turned and went back to where he was. We don't know what happens to the older brother. We get to decide for ourselves. We get to think about what we would do if we were standing on that porch. When we start putting ourselves in the character's place, the author has done their job.

Of couse Jesus did His job. He's the Master storyteller. I think He wanted us to think for ourselves. He didn't tie his ending up in a nice shiny bow either. I love that-- and I love endings that make us think like that. I won't always do that (I didn't in Mailbox), but when the story calls for it, I will. She Makes It Look Easy called for it. I hope the fates of the characters do haunt you a bit. I hope you are left wondering what happened to Justine, to Ariel, to Erica and Betsy. To me they were-- and are-- worth worrying about... worth musing over long after the last page is turned.
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Lori Lynn said...

I didn't realize that either about the Prodigal son. I tend to like "wrapped" up happy-ending stories too. A few weeks ago I watched a movie, and probably would have bought the movie (which I don't do very often), but the ending was a sad one, so that spoiled it for me!

Kristi Butler said...

Hi Marybeth!
Loved your devotion today!

Pam said...

Yes, I'm one of those that likes the ending all tied up in a nice pretty bow. You are so right, though. I need to think about that. Circumstances in our lives don't always get tied up in nice endings with pretty little bows.

Very interesting about the prodigal son story. I never noticed that about that story either. I did read She Makes It Look Easy and loved it, but wanted to know what happened to Justine, Ariel, Erica & Betsy. I did love the book because I feel stories like that are happening all around us and I would do well to think about those characters and reach out to those around me that just might be living it out in real life. Thanks for your writing, Marybeth! It always blesses my heart!

Fall Blessings,

Kelly said...

Loved your devotion today and loved BOTH your books, even the endings!!!

Ellen - SkoMomma said...

I'm glad that you didn't tie everything up in "She Makes it Look Easy" because it gave me the opportunity to think it over, spend a little more time mulling over the characters and their choices. We've recently lived this book, my sister is Justine, and we still don't know how it's all going to end.

Marybeth said...

Ellen so sorry you're facing that with your sister. SMILE is based on a real-life situation that both I and several friends who also had "Justines" in their lives witnessed. It's not easy to watch someone tear down their house with their own two hands-- especially when that person is someone you love.

Colleen said...

I wanted to comment on your devotion, as I never thought of the "fences" God has placed in my life. It will be a challenge, but I will try to find the blessings behind what I feel are barriers. Thank you for the "food for thought".