An instructor presented an idea in a class I attended. I'll admit up front I did not believe her.
I didn't think it was necessary.
That same day I saw the concept played out in a story. A real, published story. I pointed at the words accusingly.
Really? The teacher was right.
The concept ripped apart the best of what I had learned. A well written story should not have to say anything overtly. We transport the reader to MC's setting. Help her smell aromas instead of saying the dinner tasted good. Let the silky-soft rose pedal touch the reader's skin. Sense the warmth of the hero's lips as MC's skin tingles. Writers paint vivid pictures with words drawing the reader into developing and understand MC's journey.
Here is the necessary evil concept, for which I have crawled on the bandwagon: MC must somehow verbalize that she/he learned, changed, finished her journey. She needs to say the words. Not allude. No word art. Specifically say the words at the end of her journey.
Oh ho, you think that's crazy, right? As I said above, a well written story shouldn't need an outward declaration by the MC. Yeah. I used to think so, too. But, alas and alack I have changed.
Brief commercial break. Did you know alas and alack is an idiom combining a pair of terms with similar meaning. The first syllable in each word is like a sigh; las is from Old French meaning weariness; and lack is from Middle English meaning loss.
Back to the post.
Here is an example to help you understand the extent of this required confession by MC at the end of her journey: Andy is the MC in Devil Wears Prada. Her journey, as far as she knows, is to climb the career ladder by pleasing her boss. "If I can stick it out for one year I can get a job anywhere."
Her friends see her change. One said, "The Andy I knew...I don't know this glamazon." Her boyfriend walked away from their conversation saying,"The person you're on the phone with...that's who you have a relationship with." Andy denies any of this is true
At the end of the story, Andy makes a 180. She meets her former boyfriend in a restaurant and starts the conversation with--you guessed it--her confession and summary of her growth on this journey.
Andy: "I just--I wanted to say you were right about everything. That I turned my back on my friends and my family. And for what?"
Her boyfriend: "For shoes, and jackets, and belts."
Andy: "Nate...I'm sorry."
See? There is was. The confession and summary of her many paged-journey verbally spoken by the MC. No hints. Spelled out in black ink.
Why does MC's confession/summary of journey have to be present?
1. To prove MC really ended this journey.
2. To prove the necessary loose ends have been tied up.
3. To confirm what we the reader figured out and saw in the excellent story telling.
4. To be "the red ribbon on the story."
How can we incorporate this necessary component in our story without sounding boring?
I wondered the same thing. The restaurant conversation I mentioned worked well.
I turned to the last chapter of my WIP and read it again, (yours may fall in the second to the last chapter to allow for wrap up story). Out loud. Sigh....the chapter was missing a certain panache. Je ne sais qui.
Mine didn't have the satisfying ending of stories like:
Carton from a Tale of Two Cities
All have the MC confessing/summarizing their journey at the end. Even Carton from a Tale of Two Cities did despite the guillotine. Now that took crafty writing.
It's there. Crystal clear. No implying, interpretation, imagination needed. Whether in thought or spoken. It's there.
I thought about how my MC would chose to confess/summarize her journey. It took only a moment once I resigned to this idea. MC chose to leave a note. The reader sees her compose the words and leave the envelope on her bed. (this was the portion I added).
Time to wave the white flag. Sharpen your creative spirit and allow MC to recognize outwardly, specifically, crystal clear her confession/summary from this journey.
I realize this will take some time. You'll want to go back to your WIP and read the last chapter or two. You may have to ask MC how she wants to communicate this confession. It's only a line or two and will bring a satisfying close to the story.
BUT, I also want to hear from you.
1. Am I the last to figure this concept out?
2. Are you as leery as I was about overtly communicating your MC's confession/summary of journey?
3. Tell us one component of your current WIP (yes, I am working to hear from you. I love your input.)
I can't wait to read your comment(s)!
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Mary writes young adult mystery/suspense, is honing marketing and writing skills, and loves to pen missionary and tell Bible event stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids. She has finaled in several writing contests.
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