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During ’12 Balticon, I participated in a panelin where the panelists discussed how to effectively write a trilogy. I wish I’d had the frame of mind to ask them how they would proceed to end their sagas, as I find the subject to be a potentially fascinating, yet polarizing topic…at least between the writers and their readers. This is especially true when the story’s ending turns out to be a disappointment.
Imagine being engaged in a story and its characters, a story that spanned numerous books, only to have it conclude with a horrible ending. That after countless hours of reading, you’re rewarded with an ending that discarded or disrespected all that you had come to know of the story. I’m not talking about an unhappy ending, but an incomplete or bizarre one.
One of us recently wrote a post of how distraught she was of Katniss’ actions at the end of The Hunger Games trilogy. I suffered a similar experience with another book series that ended in such a ludicrous manner that it made me ask myself if the series’ existence had a point. This is not how authors should reward their loyal readers.
Examples are not just with written fiction. St. Elsewhere, an eighties sitcom, is notorious for its absurd ending of having the whole show be only the product of an autistic boy. Try imagining that as the ending of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. For a recent example, Bioware, the creator of the videogame series Mass Effect, received so much negative backlash for the ending in Mass Effect 3 that they had to re-script the ending through a DLC (down-loadable-content) patch.
There’s a reason why I’m focusing on a series ending instead of a single novel. It’s one thing for you to be disappointed by a stand-alone novel ending, but when you involve yourself in a series, the hurt is ten times more, because you invest so much time with the story and characters. The flip side of this is that the authors and creators also have invested as much time in their work, if not longer. Their emotions are probably just as charged as the reader is and the authors saw the ending as the only way to end their series. Our dilemma is this: should we as writers and creators follow our creativity and vision to its foregone conclusion or should we instead adhere to our readers’ or fans’ expectations?
As a writer, I feel that my work should follow its own path. But I also believe that if my readers are willing to take the time to read my stories, then I have a responsibility to make sure my ending is complete and respectable. It won’t satisfy everybody, but there’s less of a chance of hearing a huge outcry from the readers.
If any reader or writers want to share their opinions on the subject, please comment below. Thank you for reading.
Warning: Potential for mild spoilers ahead
I enjoyed The Hunger Games and recently flew through the next two books. I'd heard from other people that they didn't like the second and third books as much as the first, and the more I read, the more I found myself agreeing with them. Whereas my first impression of Katniss was that she was a great role model, a strong female character who faced suffering and still managed to survive with her spirit intact, I began to grow weary of her indecisiveness and passivity.
March 31, 2012 in Essay, Movies | Tags: Children, Death Wish, literature, Media, Movie ratings, Parent responsibility, The Hunger Games, The Poseidon Adventure, Violent movies, Young Adult | by alkaplan | 5 comments
Should a 9 year old see The Hunger Games movie? This question came up on Facebook recently. A friend had read the book and described it to her daughter. The parent was concerned about nightmares and posted the question.
Have we become so desensitized to violence that it is nothing to show our children murder for entertainment? There is a reason The Hunger Games was published as a young adult novel (literature written for ages 10-20 or 12-18 depending on who’s definition you look at.) and not a children’s book. It is a story about children being forced to murder other children for sport, for the pleasure of others. It is reality TV gone wrong. The movie was rated pg-13 for this reason, something parents should take note of. If the movie got its rating from sexual content and situations would we even be having this discussion?
How we present media to our children does make a difference. Visual images can have a lasting effect on an individual. (I’m still not sure what my parents were thinking when they sent me at age 8 to see The Poseidon Adventure with my older brother and sister.) As parents it is our duty and responsibility to think about what we want our children exposed to. It is imperative to understand each individual and what they are ready for. If you have questions about the appropriateness of something, then there is probably a good reason. Listen to your instincts. Don’t just go with the hype. If it’s a good movie today, it will be a good movie a year or two from now when your child is older.
Reading a book that a movie is based on before seeing the movie is not just about instilling a love of literature, it allows time for the child to process the content in a more controlled environment. An overwhelming or frightening book can be put down and discussed with an adult. Not so in a movie theatre. There you are bombarded by striking images and sound amidst crowds of strangers. My children grew up during the Harry Potter craze, but they were not permitted to see the movies until they had read the books. Not only did it make the movies less frightening, but it helped cement their love of reading.
Even the most innocuous of classics like The Wizard of OZ can frighten someone not prepared. I have fond memories of the movie, but the tornado gave me nightmares for years and my brother and sister unanimously poked out the witch image on our view finder. My husband didn’t like the flying monkeys. When it came time to share this classic with our children we talked about the story with the kids and took them to see an ice show performance first. No nightmares. No problems.
With today’s world of unrestricted media, it is even more important to know what your children are watching and reading. This means the internet as well! Don’t forget those computers. Talk to your kids and don’t stop just because they enter High School.
Just as a note, HBO entered my childhood home in the late 70’s bringing with it R rated movies like Death Wish. I was definitely too young to watch that kind of movie.