At a staff meeting this afternoon, my colleagues and I started up a discussion about one of our co-workers seeing THE HUNGER GAMES last night. Upon letting us know that he teared up at one of the scenes, I instinctively blurted out “Oh my gosh, when the girl dies, right?!” I didn’t specify any characters, but the whole office reacted as if I told them one of our good friends died. Responses like “Did you really just say that?!” and “I can’t believe you gave it away!” were tossed my way.
Needless to say, I felt pretty bad, as I know how popular the books and now movie have been these past few months. But then, another thought popped into my mind: how important an ending is in a story. Even though we might not know a thing about a storyline or plot, we still love the thrill of going on the hero’s journey. As someone who recently saw the film, I knew nothing of the back story – I briefly knew about the plot, but I was otherwise in the dark. Nonetheless, I knew exactly how my friends felt when they thought I had revealed the end, as if it was pointless to even attempt to see the movie now.
In a way, the revelation of an ending to a film or book can be as disappointing as if someone told you how things would end up in your own life: you don’t want to know, because you want to experience it for yourself. I think this is why people often say, “Don’t tell me!” when the inkling of some part of a film is revealed, even if you have no interest in it. As writers, we should all take a note on how important an ending can and should be – you can either forever hold or lose an audience in just one moment. Michael Arndt gave a great discussion on writing endings this past festival, and gave some great tips on what makes a good ending. (One of the few panels that I truly wish I could have attended!)
I encourage all of you to check out not only our panels on writing endings, but any of our panels that can help further your writing process; there is always something for everyone at our Conference. Hopefully I will see you there… and I promise not to blurt out any plot points to movies I’ve recently seen, either.
– Marcie Mayhorn, AFF Office Manager