At long last, I’m on the other wide of a rewrite deadline and I can conclude our fairytale code series.
The ending is simple. Happy.
A fairytale like story, a romance, a sisterhood, even a thriller has to end with some level of happiness and satisfaction.
What do we really learn from fairytale endings?
The boy gets the girl.
The dragon is slayed.
The castle is stormed.
Evil is defeated. Good wins.
Even in the most thrill driven stories, these elements must take place for a solid story ending and wrap up.
Cinderella is the classic happy ending. In the Disney version, Cindy and Prince marry because “the shoe fit” and boy, let’s not go down that symbolic rabbit trail, but her dreams came true because she believed.
In Snow White, the Prince’s kiss over comes evil and invokes true love.
In Die Hard, John McCain’s love for his wife “storms the castle,” defeats evil and restores his wife’s hope in him.
In The Proposal, Andrew returns to NY to tell Margaret he wants to marry her so he can “date her.”
He defeats the lie in her heart she will always be alone. His love conquers the evil of fear and love triumphs.
So, why do we need a happy ending? Or a satisfactory ending?
Because a story is about a journey! It’s about the protagonist learning something about herself, life, God, people.
It’s about coming to truth!
Think of your friends who answer all of your advice with, “Yeah but…” Isn’t it frustrating?
No one wants to read a book about a protagonist who is unwilling or unable to change.
We’ve watched those movies where the hero or heroine is the same in the end as they were in the beginning and we’re like, “Huh?”
We spend the rest of the evening discussing with our friends or spouses why the movie didn’t work or what we would’ve done differently.
To prove we like happy endings, check out these original fairytale endings. Gruesome. The Grimm brothers were indeed grim.
Disney would’ve never had such success if they’d not sweetened up the stories a bit. Especially the endings!
Stories are about conveying hope and truth.
I recently watched the ribald “Identity Thief” with Melissa McCarthy and Justin Bateman.
It is R for language and some sexual context but as the story opened, I wondered how in the world they were going to redeem Melissa’s character.
I mean, she stole the nice man’s identity. Cost him his job. Ruined his life.
She’s the perfect villain. You want to hate her. Yet all the while, I’m thinking, there’s something more to this character.
A dark wound. A lie. A fear.
As she pulled one stunt after another, I never rooted for her… until the moment in the story she revealed a piece of her heart.
And then I knew her problem and I knew the hero was just the character to help her find healing.
Then I rooted for her.
She came to truth. By the end, she’d changed. A lot. She was in fact heroic!
Even for a ribald comedy, there must be character change and development. Hats off to the writers…
What we learn from fairytales is we want a moral lesson.
We want truth.
We want a happy, sincere ending.
We want to walk away from the story feeling better about ourselves and our lives.
Endings Reflect the Beginning
How should you craft your ending? Well, how does your story begin?
All endings MUST reflect the beginning.
Reuse your setting. Reuse prose and dialog.
If the beginning is full of doubts about life, the ending is full of vision and hope about life.
In Cinderella the opening shows her dreaming, gazing out her window toward the castle.
In the end, she’s going to live in that castle.
In The Proposal we see a very uptight Margaret clinging to her very orderly life. In the end we see a very uptight Margaret opening to love and change.
Here’s how I recently ended book two in the royal wedding series, Princess Ever After.
The opening paragraphs:
She’d found bliss. Perhaps even true love. Behind the wheel of a ’71 Dodge Challenger restored to Slant 6 perfection.
Fishtailing into turn two of a west side Tallahassee dirt track, Reggie shifted into fourth gear and pushed the car to it’s max, the thrill of the race electrifying her entire being.
The engine rumbled with authority as the tires hummed over the track, churning up dust as if to truly burying yesterday and her past.
Firing down the straightaway toward pinkish-gold remains of twilight leaking through the tall pines, the last thread of Reggie’s lingering doubt flittered away on the cool September breeze.
This was what she’d been born to do. Restore junked up, forgotten old cars to their original, classic beauty. And it only took her twenty-nine years to figure it out.
Here’s how I started the Ending chapters:
She’d found bliss, and true love, between the shores of an small, gem of a nation restored to royal, sovereign perfection.
A past she’d never knew of came to life and roared into her present, redefining who she was and her all of her future days.
As strange as it still felt to be a royal princess, Reggie was confident this was what she’d been born to do. Restore Gram’s an ancient, beloved Hessenberg to it’s original, classic beauty.
I tried to show how her small beginning lead to a large ending. How she was born to restore, just not what she thought.
Her vision was too small!
So, go over your manuscript. Use these tools to help tie up your story in a classic, fairytale manner.
With a love for teaching and mentoring, Rachel comes alongside writers to help them craft their novel.
A worship leader, board member of ACFW and popular writing teacher, Rachel is the author of over 16 novels.
She lives in Florida with her husband and her dog, Lola. Contact her at: Rachel@mybooktherapy.com. Her next book, Once Upon A Prince, releases May 7!
Go forth and write!
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