Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cop Out

So, I do a lot of driving, and I always listen to the radio. Well, lately the song, "Love Story" has caught my attention. But, in a bad way. (All except for a pretty rockin' guitar solo just before the bridge.)Anyway, here is the song, roughly paraphrased:

verse 1-Teenage angsty, forbidden lovers
chorus-Teenage angsty, forbidden lovers
verse 2-Teenage angsty, forbidden lovers
chorus-Teenage angsty, forbidden lovers
rockin' guitar solo
bridge-Teenage angsty, forbidden lovers
last verse-Teenagers get married, live happily ever after

Um . . . excuse me? Did I miss something? I mean, no offense to Taylor Swift, but this is the biggest cop out ending I've ever heard. It's all wrong! We are not allowed to hear any satisfying reason why the father figure should suddenly agree to the match, and let them get married, for heavens sake. It just doesn't make any sense. It's like Swift was going along, writing the song, got to the end said, "Aw, they should end up together. Okay!" And she happily scribbles away the last verse.

Do you see the connection to writing novels? I believe that every story has a right ending, but sometimes it isn't always the happiest, or the funnest to write. But, we writers can be so fixated on how we think it should end, on how we want it to end that we refuse to write it that way. We can also be so in love with our characters that we don't want them to suffer, so we wrap up the story in a big, pretty bow. *coughBreakingDawncough* It just doesn't work. The readers will sense it. And your story will lose some of the power that it could have had.

So, I call for all of us writers to be aware of the truth in our stories. The ending will show itself to us, we just have to be brave enough to write it that way. And, for the record, I think "Love Story" should have ended with the two forbidden lovers realizing that High School relationships are a joke, and that they would probably break up after a few weeks anyway, making English class lame and awkward for the rest of the year, so they should just skip the drama and move on.


Natalie said...

Well, let's remember that Taylor is like what, 17? She has no idea that this is totally impractical.

I agree with you on endings, though mine tend to be "happy" for the most part. I try to make it a realistic kind of happy, something accurate and true the story and characters.

Kasie West said...

LOL That is so funny. And so true. All of it. I have nothing to add. I will just go and laugh now.

Nikki said...

LOL! I love your ending way better!! So much more logical, but then again, no one really can accuse teenagers of being logical I guess!

Anonymous said...

Ditto. My first ending of my first book was a cop out, but not because it was too happy, just because I got lazy, and it was too short. My husband totally called me on it, and I knew he was right. I just wanted to finish my story, but I didn't want to do the work!

Kiersten said...

Yes, I hated writing the ending to Instinct, but what can I say, it was the best possible ending. Not the happiest, but the best.

Kimberly said...

I think one of the biggest things I've learned this year is that just because it's fiction doesn't mean it doesn't have to be REAL.

Renee Collins said...

Natalie-17, that's right. Explains a lot. :)

Also, I think every happy ending you have had has worked perfectly with the tone of your books.

Kasie-:) Glad I could amuse you.

Nikki-No kidding. My teenage niece LOVES the song. She listens to it over and over. So, I think the inconsistency of the ending doesn't really bother teens. :)

Candice-Yeah, I kinda did the same thing with my first book. I had this goal to finish by my birthday. So, by to 2:30 in the morning, I just wanted to wrap it up, any way was fine. lol, no wonder I trunked that book.

Kiersten-That's exactly what I'm talking about. :)

Kimberly-Exactly!! That's an excellent point. Maybe that's the crux of it all. The ending has to feel real.

btw, welcome to the blog. :)

Miriam S.Forster said...

Heehee, that's why I like her new song "White Horse" better. The storytelling's still good, but it's a lot more realistic.

sraasch said...

But-- but-- I LOVE that song!

Seriously though -- you're right. I try to ignore the blaring cop-out whenever I listen to it, because the guy in the video is H-O-T and I imagine him running through the field...ahem. Moving on.

I laughed out loud at your Breaking Dawn reference. Forever will it go down as how not to end a series.

Joanne said...

Sometimes we just have to let the characters take the pen and write the ending, so to speak. Kind of like letting them live their own lives, but it brings an authenticity to the story.

Tara Maya said...

Naw, this is the difference between songs and novels. Novels have to make sense. Songs do not. They have to get your toes tapping, but they do not have to be believable, consistent, logical or even comprehensible.

How many novels can just change from third to first person randomly? Songs do this all the time.

How many novels can have entire chapters which consist of only nonsense words such as, "La la la, sha na na, dobity-doo?" There are songs which have nothing BUT nonsense words.

How many novels could be read with totally different words than the author actually wrote and still be loved? Yet how many songs are there where you're not actually sure of the lyrics or discover you've been singing the wrong lyrics since you were ten?

Moral of the story. Writers, do not plot your books like songs!

giddymomof6 said...

LOL! Tara Maya! Awesome! Perfectly said! LOL! Okay, so this post had me soo cracking up Renee! It's so funny. And It's mostly funny to me because i'm a huge wrap a bow around the book type person! LOLOL! And I love it. Of course, I'm lucky so far... I've stayed away from books that require dangily, shredded ribbon at the end! LOL!

JaneyV said...

Well I'd never heard of Miss Swift (Mrs Montague of the vid) and I hadn't heard the song but I'm Youtubing it as I type (I know - I am Queen when it come to verb creation). It's very very silly. But it's a slush teen romancy love song. I guess the clue is in the title. Even the movie of that name was naff.

But I soo get your point. As soon as I started reading I was all "I hope you're taking notes Ms Meyer!" - so I laughed loudly at the little cough there.

Happy endings are super. I love them. I have no wish to invest hours/days of my life to be left depressed just for the sake of a real-life ending. Puh-leeze! But twee, wrap-it-up-with-a-gingham-bow tidy,tidy fairy-tale endings just patronize the reader. The thing is Breaking Dawn could have had a wonderfully happy ending that was satisfying and left no hint of saccharine aftertaste. But Ms Meyer wanted to leave the door open for a continuation of the saga. My feeling is that there was no need for Bella to become a vampire - I would have preferred to see Edward become human, for them to have to go to college and get jobs. That would have been a happy ending. And don't get me started on the Jacob/ Renesmee thing - let's just say as a plot device it was ridiculous - and that's the nicest thing I can say about it.

Oh dear I feel close to a rant. I'll be quiet now. Anyhoo - loved the post!

Becca said...

Wait a second Ren....prince charming really doesn't come galloping in on his white steed, after receiving joyous approval from PA, and carry me off into the sunset??????????????

Can this really be true??????? I am devistated - I can't believe it....oh wait....welcome to my Prince Charmingless life (:

Oh Ren...never afraid to tell it like it is! (:
ps....when can you come to my class??

Renee Collins said...

Miriam-Hmm, I'll have to check that one out. I've never heard it.

Sara-I like the song too! Don't get me wrong. And, after seeing the video, I can concur that the guy is hot enough to override the failings of the lyrics. :)

Joanne-Yeah, I think authenticity is a good word to describe it. It just has to ring true.

Tara Maya-lol, I can see what you're saying. :) One might argue that Ulysses by James Joyce is made up of nonsensical words, but that's a matter of debate. :P

Seriously though, I absolutely agree that novels and songs are not the same. Good point. :)

Jenni-Hey, no problem with a bow, when it fits the story. And there are many YA stories that a happy ending is perfect for. I actually think one can swing too far in the opposite direction, and make an ending too depressing, just because they don't want to end happily, and that doesn't work either.

Janey-You're back!!! Yay :) I missed ya. And, I have to say AMEN to your comment. I love a good happy ending too. And, as I said in the comment above, I think writers can make a book too bleak, just to be poignant or whatever. You just have to go with the ending that is RIGHT.

Meyer took the easy way out. The worst part is, she was probably trying to satisfy everyone (especially with the whole Jacob/Reneseme plot line) and actually ended up turning alot of people off. People who would have considered themselves fans of the series before, like myself.

Becca-No, no! For you, Prince Charming will come riding in on his gallant steed and sweep you away. You are the exception! :) (catch my movie reference?)

Seriously though, I think that Prince Charmings really can do that very thing. But, in the Love Story song, he SHOULDN'T have. I mean, hello, the song was based on Romeo and Juliet. We all remember how THAT one ended.

P.S. I TOTALLY want to come to your class again!!! Name the day!

P.P.S We need to hang out!!!!!