Rhiannon Frater is the award-winning author of the As the World Dies trilogy.


Good Solid Endings

Last week was a rough one. I won’t go into details, because there actually aren’t any. It was just one of those weeks that seems unusually hard for no real particular reason, but it messes up your sleep, your eating, and your brain power.

This week will be better. Or else!

But the weekend brought some good times going out and about with my husband as we shopped for our new HDTV, hung out with friends, and just spent quality time together. I got a dragon henna tattoo down at Secret Oktober in South Austin. Wendy specializes in henna tattoos and goth dreadfalls and she was doing a special event at the store. I love her work on the dreadfalls and I’m already jonesing for a new pair. They were amazing! She also does makeup for the opera here in Austin and has done some really cool special effects makeup as well. You can check out her site here.

Along with our HDTV, we picked up a copy of the Special Edition of The Mist. It is my all time favorite Stephen King short story and I’ve been dying to see this movie for ages. We missed it in the theater, so we decided it would be our first movie to watch on our HDTV. My husband fixed up our new theater system and we snuggled up on our leather sofa to watch the movie.

I loved it.

I totally loved everything about it. It looked so much how I had imagined it from Stephen King’s descriptions it was unbelievable. The casting was spot on and it was a truly kick ass horror film. The CGI was a little disappointing at times, but I could easily overlook it because the design of the monsters was just so terrifying. The one scene I could not imagine on film was done so well it evoked the same feeling of awe that I felt when I read the short story.

As for the ending…

What a freaking perfect ending. It was brutal in its perfection and just awesome. In fact, I cried. It was just that well done. Amazing.

What was even better…the husband and I checked out the black and white version the next day. On the Special Edition DVD you can watch the color version or the black and white. I honestly prefer the black and white. It wiped out my disappointment in the CGI completely. In fact, in black and white, the monsters scared me even more! The blood somehow seemed more brutal. It was great. Watch the black and white version if you can. It’s spectacular.

After the movie, Corey and I talked about the ending and how Darabont had taken one step further than King had in the actual short story. It has been the gripe of many people I know that Stephen King can’t end a story to save his life. In fact, one friend is still mad at him for the ending of The Dark Tower.

Ending a story can sometimes be the most difficult part of the process other than starting. An ending should be something that is satisfactory to the reader/viewer and fit naturally into the framework of the story and the world that has been developed. A good ending doesn’t mean you have to wrap up all the threads and clearly resolve everything that happened in the plot to be a good ending. It just has to work with the story that is being told. The Thing has an amazing ending. The two men facing each other as the base burns to the ground and the snow swirls around them as they wait to see if either one of them is infected is just awesome. Event Horizon is another film that had a pitch perfect ending that leaves you wondering, but fits all that has come before.

The ending to the film version of The Mist is another ending that fits perfectly with the events leading up to it. After the horrors seen by the survivors, the choice they make is understandable. It is not a Hollywood happy ending and it was great.

But, I also love happy endings. I love it when a story reaches a good solid ending that has been slowly blossoming over the course of the story. I just accidentally watched the series finale of Moonlight online. As I watched the episode, I had no idea that this was THE LAST EPISODE (since CBS sux and canceled the show). I thought it was wrapping up next week for some reason. At the end of the episode, our hero and heroine seem to finally decide a vampire and mortal cannot be together and its heart wrenching. In fact, I felt quite surly at the thought of the last episode would be about them being estranged. And then, low and behold, the writers were not jerks. And our beloved vampire turned around and won his lady’s heart. And I almost stood up at my desk and cheered. When the door to the apartment closed on their passionate kiss and I was grinning. The two characters had been building up to that moment all season long.

I quickly checked to see if there was a previews for the season finale next week, then realized I was wrong. I had just watched the season finale. I felt an enormous sense of relief immediately. Despite cancellation, the show had a solid ending that I could embrace and be happy about.

Frankly, a few years back I almost gave up on network serials because I was tired of the freshman shows ending on a cliffhanger that would never be resolved. Invasion, Surface, and Jericho‘s cancellations really pissed me off. At least Jericho was able to come back and wrap things up, but over the years many serials have been left hanging when the ax descended. I still can’t figure out why the networks don’t let them know about their cancellation in time for them to wrap things up for the viewers.

My whole point of this post (and there is one) is that a good ending is what a viewer/reader deserves. It is up to the writer to find that pitch perfect ending that suits the story. Whether its a gut wrenching ending like in The Mist or the perfect kiss between a vampire and a mortal like in Moonlight, an ending should satisfy.

I have a few short stories I’ve never been able to finish. I think I realize why now. I haven’t found that perfect ending yet.

I think its time to start digging for some.