Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bummer in the Summer

So... I got some "problematic" feedback on a manuscript this week. I say problematic because my agent wants a more satisfying ending, and I don't feel like I can come up with one that is satisfying to everyone. Bummer in the summer.

I kind of dug myself into a hole with the story's conflict. I have two MC's and they both want the same thing. They can't BOTH have it.

So, what can an author do?

I can change the problem, of course,... but that is really the essence of the whole story.

I can brainstorm other solutions, but my gut tells that no matter how creative I get, some readers will always feel like one character got short shrift. Oy!

Have you ever given your characters a problem that they couldn't satisfactorily solve?

15 comments:

Yat-Yee said...

Yes! I drive them to a corner and then realize I don't know how to get them out of it. I am kinda in that same position right now, and have decided to go back much earlier in the book to reorganize some relationships to help out. Don't know if it'll work yet.

Yeah, not a detail plotter.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

I think what really matters is how the problem/resolution is written, what the internal conflicts are. I know nothing about your story, but if two characters want one thing and they can't both have it, maybe have one of the characters change heart at the end? :) Just an idea. :)

Susanne Drazic said...

Can they share it? Can one back away, deciding they'd rather let the other have it? Can they decide that if they both can't have it, then neither will have it? Can it be donated? Can they work together, earning money, so that eventually they both will have the same item?

Since I don't know your story, these are just quick ideas off the top of my head.

Good luck!

Jean Reidy said...

Hey Corey! Isn't that the biggest problem with raising the stakes? You get your MCs into too much trouble and you can't get them out?

Lauren F. Boyd said...

I like how Susanne's thinking. Hopefully one of her ideas will work for you!

Sorry to hear that your agent didn't like the ending. That stinks!

Jeff King said...

Maybe one gives in to the other because of: love, fear or understanding?

I connect to a character if he or she rises above the conflict, like takes the high road.

Unless of course, one is the protag, and the other is the antag… then I am not sure if I understand the issue.

Rebecca said...

Corey, I believe in you. You will think of a brilliant solution to your characters' predicament!

Actually, Jeff might be onto something. Could one of your characters step back and be the bigger person? Worth considering!

I once left my characters stranded somewhere for months because I couldn't figure out a realistic way for them to get out of the mess they were in. But it worked itself out eventually.

Corey Schwartz said...

Thanks, everybody, I know it is hard to give me comments when i was so vague! But I am just cautious about totally giving away my premise.

Megan K. Bickel said...

I feel your pain, Corey! Endings are my biggest problem with every manuscript, so I can only imagine the pretzel you've worked yourself into over this. Don't give up!

MG Higgins said...

Oy is right! Just glancing through the comments, it looks like you've gotten some good ones. I'm confident you'll figure this out. Good luck.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Suzanne's suggestions are great. I'd add that maybe you could write alternate endings using each of the suggestions people have given and just go crazy with it, let it flow without any critical voice. Then put them aside and go back. Maybe one will open a door.

K said...

Does each MC have a different talent than the other? Maybe to get the "prize" at the end, they can only get it by using both of their talents? If that doesn't work, maybe a third character can just swoop in and take it :) just kidding!

I hope they work their problems out! I can't wait to read more of your work!

Ishta Mercurio said...

I did that with one manuscript, and I felt the same - that in order to make the ending more "satisfying," I'd have to change the essence of the story. You've gotten some great suggestions here, though. And I haven't reached the point with my MS that I feel it's ready t submit, so I can't say that leaving the ending the way it was necessarily worked or didn't. :-/

Good luck with it! Maybe put it away for a couple of days, and see what filters through.

Pam Calvert said...

Yes...and usually, I give up if I can't come up with a twist ending.

It sounds like you could come up with a surprising ending with this plotline, though. That would satisfy both mc's. You might want to change the item that the characters are fighting over so that a twist can be a little easier and creative. Work backward from the twist. I've done that before.

Good luck!!!

Kim said...

I'm guessing this is a PB so I'm loving the previous commenters' ideas of alternative endings so that they both get what they want OR one deciding s/he doesn't want it after all. To a young child, having both characters "win" seems "satisfying" to me.

Good luck,boss! ;)