I’m a sucker for happy endings. I love seeing characters I’ve watched fall in love in spite or because of various obstacles end up together. I like to walk away from a movie (book) believing the characters went on to have a slap happy life full of love and other good things.
But the stories that stick with me the most and the longest are the ones that don’t end happily ever after. Some of my favorite movies end like this. I’ll stop what I’m doing to watch.
One movie is The Professional with Jean Reno and Natalie Portman. I know how it’s going to end when I sit my butt down. Still, I sit glued to the screen, secretly hoping for a different outcome. Of course the outcome is the same. Then for the next couple of days, while I’m doing house stuff, driving in the car or working on my wip, I’ll think about Leon and Mathilda and what could have been. (Anyone who has seen this movie, what do you think would have been if things had turned out differently? And their relationship, how do you think their relationship would have evolved?)
As a viewer, I’m totally bummed. I so want Leon and Mathilda to make it. To beat the huge odds against them.
As a writer, I’m inspired and challenged. To create characters, who are vulnerable and relatable despite their issues or predicament. To step up the complexity of my character relationships by exploring how basic needs and simple wants can bind people with conflicting personalities, lifestyles and backgrounds. And to write not just a story, but an ending that will stay with readers long after the book has been placed on the bookshelf.
So what movies or books have inspired and challenged you as a writer and/or reader? And in what ways?