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End It Already

I’m going to rant a little, and I think it may be a repeat rant, but it deserves stating again.  When the giant climax of a book or movie has occurred, please, please, get the hell to end.  When I worked in Hollywood we called it the “run for the credits”.  It should happen very quickly after the final big scene(s).

Look at Lord of The Rings.  From the time Aragorn is crowned and marries Arwen to the parting at the Grey Havens is 70 pages.  And the actual final, climactic battle is the Scouring of the Shire.  I believe that was the point of the book.  So how many pages from the end of the scouring to the parting.  Not very damn many.

Last year I read a fantasy series where the end dragged on for over 200 pages after the damn dragon was released.  Last night I finished another series, that, over all, I enjoyed, but this time it was 117 pages of tie up.

When an ending just keeps retreating in front of you the reader starts to lose that glow of victory, a sense they made the adventure with the characters.  It starts to feel like bookkeeping.  _Okay, tied up that loose end.  Oh what about the queen’s maid?  Maybe I better mention her too, etc. etc._

In this area I think screenwriters have it over prose authors.  We know how to get the hell out.  Overall I think working with a foot in both camps has made me a far better prose writer because I can sense when a scene is pointless, or plodding.  My prose writing has made me look for ways to make my dialogue more subtle, and able to carry more weight and meaning.  A win/win all around. 

 

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