Weekly Topic: Fictional Better Endings


This week, our topic is “fictional better endings”. This does not necessarily mean happy endings, of course. What, to you, might constitute a ‘better’ ending in fiction, or in a particular fictional story?

I find it harder to tamper with fiction than with films; somehow the endings of at least well written fiction feel right to the characters and plot development, as Rebekah pointed out in last week’s Guest Blog. I deeply value transformational story structure, in which the key protagonists–and usually to some extent the antagonists as well–undergo dramatic, if subtle, shifts in consciousness from facing and surviving (or, not) enormous internal and external challenges.

Writing daily blog posts on Better Endings has helped me to recognize synchronicity and serendipity around our weekly themes. Two days ago I happened upon Stranger than Fiction on TV. Could any story line be more appropriate to our topic this week of fictional better endings? Will Ferrell plays an IRS tax man, Harold Crick, a living fictional protagonist who becomes aware he is a character in the unfinished novel of Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson), an author who “only writes tragedies”. Harold seeks out Professor Jules Hilbert (Dustin Hoffman) to help him figure out what sort of novel he is in. There is beautiful, parable-esque story telling here. Our character must examine his life and improve his relationships–e.g. with the enigmatically charming Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a feisty baker whom Harold is auditing–to determine whether his own, very routinized life is worth saving. The ending twist–I won’t spoil it for you; this is a must see film!–offers a poetic statement about a transformational story structure that ironically bends reality back upon fiction, altering the author of the story herself!

Is there a fictional story ending whose ending you love? What makes it such a fitting conclusion? Alternately, is there a work of fiction (of any genre) which you would love to re-vision with a meaningful twist of fate or consequence? This week I give you carte blanche to play with fiction. No ending is indelibly chiseled in stone.

Please send your Comments about Fictional Better Endings and you can submit your stories for consideration as Story of the WeekPlease Follow to receive our Better Endings posts daily by email, and invite your Friends to join in the conversation! This is a site where writers can practice weekly prompts, and where everyone and anyone can flex your creativity. While on the surface we are applying Better Endings to fiction or to the weekly topic generally, underneath this is a self-help, personal growth and development practice which will deepen over time as we progress. I believe that as we practice applying this principle of Better Endings, our own character arcs may also come to manifest a transformational story. 

Better Endings to you! – Linda