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Be A Better Writer--THE MAGIC ENDING

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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Re: Be A Better Writer--THE MAGIC ENDING

Postby JayDavidKing » Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:44 pm

I wrote the worst ending of anything I have ever done with a poem called "I'll Take My Tea" http://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article- ... p?id=28635 I totally cheated the reader with a cop out ending. My reason at the time was that I had run out of time and needed to finish by the challenge deadline. I hope this ending might be a little better. At least it doesn't insult the reader as much as my original ending.

Both ladies, still friends to this very day,
Continue to visit in much the same way.
But their strongest bond, their affinity,
Is a passion for all blends of hot and cold tea.

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Re: Be A Better Writer--THE MAGIC ENDING

Postby glorybee » Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:57 pm

Lillian, you've analyzed your own story very well. The ending is not a "magic ending" or a deus ex machina.

Let me think...a similarly-themed story WITH a magic ending might end something like this: after the narrator has her encounter with the man and his son, she decides to hold the VBS. And on the first day, attendance is low until a bus full of children from the city's Boys and Girls Clubs breaks down in front of the church, on their way to a trip to the fish hatchery. The bus driver needs a place for them to hang out for three hours--and they have so much fun that they come back every day, bringing their friends with them.

Your version is far better.
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Re: Be A Better Writer--THE MAGIC ENDING

Postby glorybee » Mon Mar 17, 2014 10:06 pm

JayDavidKing wrote:I wrote the worst ending of anything I have ever done with a poem called "I'll Take My Tea" http://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article- ... p?id=28635 I totally cheated the reader with a cop out ending. My reason at the time was that I had run out of time and needed to finish by the challenge deadline. I hope this ending might be a little better. At least it doesn't insult the reader as much as my original ending.

Both ladies, still friends to this very day,
Continue to visit in much the same way.
But their strongest bond, their affinity,
Is a passion for all blends of hot and cold tea.


Gerald, I think you're being too hard on yourself. Your ending is in character with the tone and the mood of the rest of the poem. It is not a deus ex machina, or "magic ending." In a poem like yours where the conflict is really played for laughs, I don't think the concept really applies; it's more likely to be seen in serious writing. But I suppose...

If the ladies stubbornly refused to try each others' tea, but as they sat there with their arms crossed, a street performer dressed as a mime walked up to their table and switched their drinks and wouldn't leave until they took a sip, just to get rid of him, then he scooted off to find another person to play a prank on...you get the idea.
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Re: Be A Better Writer--THE MAGIC ENDING

Postby lish1936 » Tue Mar 18, 2014 7:55 am

Jan, as per the definition of Deus ex Machina, it refers to the end of the story and usually without any foreshadowing. Is there a comparable term for an event in the middle of the story that comes from out of the blue in order to carry the story forward? Or is that an acceptable writing technique?

I was thinking of that part of my story when I had to introduce the sound of the child's voice without a hint. Could I have done something differently?

Thanks,
Lillian
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Re: Be A Better Writer--THE MAGIC ENDING

Postby glorybee » Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:12 am

lish1936 wrote:Jan, as per the definition of Deus ex Machina, it refers to the end of the story and usually without any foreshadowing. Is there a comparable term for an event in the middle of the story that comes from out of the blue in order to carry the story forward? Or is that an acceptable writing technique?

I was thinking of that part of my story when I had to introduce the sound of the child's voice without a hint. Could I have done something differently?

Thanks,
Lillian


Lillian, the key aspect of a deus ex machina is that it is somehow absurd or implausible, and that it solves the main character's problem in a too-convenient way. Not every sudden event is a deus ex machina, and not every event in a story needs to be foreshadowed.

In a full-length work of fiction, I suppose the deus ex machina might appear at a place other than the ending, although it's usually thought of as a culminating event.

In a short story such as yours, it would be extremely rare to say that an event in the middle of the story was a deus ex machina. More specifically, the introduction of the child's voice is simply another event in the rising action--and one more step leading your main character to the climax of the story.
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Re: Be A Better Writer--THE MAGIC ENDING

Postby lish1936 » Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:40 am

Thanks, Jan, for reinforcing the concept. When you're working with less gray matter, one needs words like "too-convenient" and "absurd" to expand the light. :idea: :D

Blessings,

Lillian
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I write even when I think I can't, because I must. :-)

I love to write. Nothing escapes the crush I have on the written word. I'm hooked on words!!

"Let words bewitch you. Scrutinze them, mull them, savor them, and in combination, until you see their subtle differences and the ways they tint each other." Francis Flaherty

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Re: Be A Better Writer--THE MAGIC ENDING

Postby Shann » Tue Mar 18, 2014 1:24 pm

I started a thread for those with writer's block. I also encouraged people to pop in here as well. The story isn't a challenge one, but I think it fits your magic ending as it is predictable and cliche. Here is the link to it: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=37999

I had to copy more than just the end to it so you'd understand what was happening. Here's the ending:
Out of desperation, Riley tried to lick the snot away, but her tongue only caught the tip of it. It seemed to turn from a lightly running brook to a raging river. She didn't think it was possible for her body to store so much fluid in her sinus cavities. She watched in horror as it dripped down in a single strand, stretching from her nose outwards. Riley's eyes mapped out the destination. If I don't do something in two seconds it's going to plop right on Mrs. Bogey's shoulder. Oh man, I knew I should have stayed in bed. Her heart felt like it was going to pound out of her chest. They sure didn't teach this in nursing school. She glanced at Ms. Z. She seemed intent on holding the patient upright. Riley only had one idea. Quickly she turned her head, lifted her arm a bit and wiped her nose with the sleeve of her sweater. It immediately started to dry up and glisten like a beckon. Just as Riley was about to exhale a sigh of relief, she felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. Glancing up, she could almost feel the daggers that were shooting out of Ms. Z's eyes.

"Riley!"

Feeling the blood rush to her face, Riley stammered. "I-i-it-t It's not--"

Ms. Z raised her eyebrows. "I'm perfectly aware that it is snot!"

I also am going to look through my challenge story. I have the perfect example, if I can find it.
Shann

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Re: Be A Better Writer--THE MAGIC ENDING

Postby Shann » Tue Mar 18, 2014 1:32 pm

I found it. Here is the link: http://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article- ... p?id=36458
I still grimace a bit when I read it. Actually I have two parts of the endings lesson. Last week's about going too far, and this week's magic ending. You can see by the comments how people felt and it helped me grow so much. It may not be one of my better stories, but it is definitely one that I learned a lot from.

The last scene was in Tracey’s bedroom. Dan was reading the note that Tracey left him before she ran away. In his sleep he murmured “Why God, why did my baby leave me?”

A beautiful voice whispered into Dan’s ear. “All of her life, Tracey has been searching for your approval. A daughter needs to be hugged and loved by her father. When her own Daddy refused to pick her up, give her a hug, or pat her back she went looking for affection from others. Your daughter hungered for the touch of another male. You could’ve been her role model but you chose to be selfish.”

Dan woke up with a jerk. He jumped out of the chair and rushed to Tracey’s side. This time he didn’t hesitate to pick up her battered hand. He massaged her arm. “Please come back to me Tracey. I promise I’ll be there for you. Please baby, please.”

The only response was the beeping of the monitors and the whooshing from the ventilator.

Though I really like the last line, leaving it open-ended and what-not. I wish I could cut out the beautiful angelic voice whispering in Dan's ear. Not only had I already driven the message home, but also it was a mysterious stranger who appeared out of nowhere.
Last edited by Shann on Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Be A Better Writer--THE MAGIC ENDING

Postby glorybee » Tue Mar 18, 2014 1:51 pm

Shann wrote:I started a thread for those with writer's block. I also encouraged people to pop in here as well. The story isn't a challenge one, but I think it fits your magic ending as it is predictable and cliche.


Hmmmm, perhaps I didn't explain this concept very well. A predictable ending is the exact opposite of a deus ex machina, or "magical ending."

In your story, the events proceed in a logical manner, even up to the ending, where your MC is caught in her misdeed.

A deus ex machina needs to be unpredictable and implausible, and will rescue the MC from a seemingly un-rescuable dilemma in a way that is not foreshadowed by the other events in the story.

This device isn't often seen in light-hearted stories, but if I were to attempt one for this story, perhaps it would be something like this: Riley wipes her nose on her sweater, Ms. Z starts to turn toward her and is about to catch her in the act, when suddenly a tornado appears in the sky outside the classroom window, and everyone looks at that, giving Riley a chance to find a tissue.
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Re: Be A Better Writer--THE MAGIC ENDING

Postby glorybee » Tue Mar 18, 2014 1:54 pm

Shann, that link goes to something other than your story.

I think you're closer with this example, though. The voice in Dan's ear may be just a bit much. Glad that you're able to learn from your old stories--I find my own early entries quite cringe-worthy!
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Re: Be A Better Writer--THE MAGIC ENDING

Postby Shann » Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:31 pm

Thanks for the info about the link. I fixed it. It's been one of those days. You explained yourself perfectly, I'm the one who couldn't make my words say what my mind did. I was thinking about both of your lessons about endings. The snot one was meant to be like you taught last week with the ending being predictable, but also with the play on words where the person was trying to say It's not what you think, but instead of explaining why she chose her sleeve over the patient, she was "magically" rescued by the teacher misunderstanding her.

I knew that one wasn't as strong as my second example, but I had just written it and it was easy to get to that link (apparently even more than I realized, :oops: )

The second one with the mysterious voice, but no body was supposed to be the better example of what not to do. I was curious if you would consider the first one a magical ending. Actually I'm kind of glad you didn't see it since, unless I'm mistaken or it is done in a really clever way, it's something we want to avoid, right? (It really isn't you, I see French and my brain trembles in fear.)

You and others willing to point out my oops in such a kind and helpful way are part of the reasons why I don't cringe at my newer stories as much! :thankssign
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Re: Be A Better Writer--THE MAGIC ENDING

Postby Shann » Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:36 pm

Oh yeah, I also forgot to comment on your endings. I love your original one. As for the one that you wrote here, I think I saw it on a TV show once or twice or a few dozen times! :D
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Re: Be A Better Writer--THE MAGIC ENDING

Postby glorybee » Tue Mar 18, 2014 7:06 pm

Shann wrote:...unless I'm mistaken or it is done in a really clever way, it's something we want to avoid, right? (It really isn't you, I see French and my brain trembles in fear.)


Yes. Definitely avoid the "magical ending."
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Re: Be A Better Writer--THE MAGIC ENDING

Postby WriterFearNot » Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:44 pm

I much prefer the original. It squeezed my heart, and made my eyes wet. All the signs of a fantastic piece of writing (IMHO).

I'd like to add that as far as "Magic Endings" go, I am not a fan of the "faith fix-all." A problem arises, tension increases, hope is almost lost...then the MC says a prayer, or remembers a piece of scripture and suddenly, everything is better. Yes, this does happen (sort of), but the process is usually longer, and more painful than one or two sentences can convey.

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Re: Be A Better Writer--THE MAGIC ENDING

Postby glorybee » Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:06 am

WriterFearNot wrote:I'd like to add that as far as "Magic Endings" go, I am not a fan of the "faith fix-all." A problem arises, tension increases, hope is almost lost...then the MC says a prayer, or remembers a piece of scripture and suddenly, everything is better. Yes, this does happen (sort of), but the process is usually longer, and more painful than one or two sentences can convey.

Theresa


Exactly! Thanks for saying that in a much clearer way than I could have.
Jan Ackerson

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