Monday, October 22, 2007

Now That's How You End a Story

Every 5-year-old kid tells stories.

As a writer, I feel especially happy to write down my son Richie's stories for him. Not that I want him to grow up to be a writer. God forbid. No, it's because I've never seen someone take such joy in listening to his own story.

In writers' critique groups, somebody else usually reads your story to the group. That way you can hear it from a reader's standpoint. You sit there, turning bright red, as you realize that parts of your story make no sense whatsoever. And the other parts are boring.

No writer listens to her story and laughs out loud at her own jokes. At least not in front of the group.

But Richie never gets enough of his story. He asks Justin and I to read it over and over, and his laughter is as loud the 14th time he hears it as it was the first time.

His latest book, with the catchy title "Richie's Club Richie's Book Richie's Rocket ship," is about the Unstoppable Pants Team. Made up of Richie and his friends, they fight the evil Strong Rock, Lobster and Werewood, in a seemingly never ending battle.

Some excerpts:

There were two people that never existed--but they did exist.

If only they could go back to the end.

Attack that bullet!

The ending is my favorite part, though:

"Everybody--even Strong Rock and Lobster and of course Werewood--are in jail. That's all the announcements. Now, let's eat!"

Endings are hard to write. You can tell because some people don't even write endings. For instance, how many times have you read a movie review that says something like this: "The movie does not tie things up neatly but rather leaves you to draw your own conclusions"? That's code for: no ending.

On the other hand, you know a writer nailed the ending if you are either crying or, days after closing the book, thinking: "I wonder what Emma's up to..." only to remember that Emma is a character. She's up to the same things she was up to when you read the book a week ago.

Since I write non-fiction, I don't have to make up endings. I just have to find, out of the rubble of real life, the ending. The place where you've learned something, but haven't yet begun a new lesson.

I wonder if Richie would mind if I start using his trademark ending for my stories:

So anyway, the bad guys are in jail. That's all the announcements. Now let's eat!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a riot!!!

8:56 PM  

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