Life After End

The bad guy always gets it in the end. Here, for once, we know what “it” is. But where is the end? Cornelia Funke said in one of the Inkheart trilogy’s number that stories have begun before the “start” of the book, and continue past the “end” of the book. Most books don’t actually hold the end of the story. Here are two different terms that I will be using throughout this post: book and story. They mean two different things. Anyway, in this thought that stories continue past the books, we see an answer to that question “Why do bad people get good things?” and “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Because we haven’t hit the end of the story yet. Bad things always happen in good stories. If it was just a happy time all the time, no one would like the story. Good characters always die in the middle of books. Brom, from Eragon; Boromir and Theoden, from The Lord of the Rings; Holly Short, from Artemis Fowl and Linus de Wynter, from Airman (but both are from the same author, and both are resurrected– Eoin Colfer likes that stuff); Bes, from the Kane Chronicles: Throne of Fire (sorry if I spoiled it); and many more. Most good books are bittersweet. And not just through good characters dying. There’s also heartbreak, which Suzanne Collins seems to be best at, and other feelings brought into the stories. That’s the stuff that brings you back to that author for more. I’m looking at my bookshelf now, picking out a character who dies in this book, a feeling that hurts in that one, a situation that’s seemingly unbearable in the other. But all of these books resolve in the end– of the book, not of the story. The two I see that break that mold are Jack London’s Call of the Wild and Suzanne Collins Gregor the Overlander series. If you’ve read either of those, you know what I mean. I think The Count of Monte Cristo ends on a strange note as well, but it’s been years since I read that. I was eleven at the time. I didn’t understand half of it, which is a pretty hefty part.

Back to strange endings, you actually see them all over the place. Chapters end on a tense moment, sometimes even books do. But the books are installments in a series, so one must lead into the other, just like chapters. You almost never see an ending like that in a final book, except when it’s about some adventurer and the author wants the reader to know that Percy Jackson will go on fighting monsters, that the Lone Ranger will do something else after he rides into the sunset, that there is a life after the word Fin (sorry, that’s a music reference). “The story doesn’t end there,” the author is saying. And it continues, in our imaginations. And so does life, in our realities. In music, no piece can end on a tritone, or an evil-sounding chord. It always resolves. Life is like that. It can’t end on a sour note.

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6 Comments

  1. O as I read this I couldn’t stop thinking about how writing is always a sort of memory… a sort of Post-script of the author. The death of the author.

    Amazing!

    Reply
  2. Reminds me of the And The Adventure Continues trope… I love those sort of endings. Actually, I love bittersweet endings as well. Those are fun to write.

    Reply
  3. I remember reading this post, but apparently I didn’t comment.

    Reply

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