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The Ambiguously Gay Ending

April 7, 2010

My morning involved waking up to really bad hiphop blasting from my new downstairs neighbor’s apartment, coming into the living room to find a cat turd on the carpet, and then opening the fridge and discovering that my almost-sour milk is now completely sour so I couldn’t have my coffee. But I’m not nearly as sick today, so at least there’s that.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, let me say that this blog is in no way about homosexuality. I just wanted to reference that ridiculous Saturday Night Live short cartoon and use the word “ambiguous” in a clever way.

I’ve been working on this short sci-fi story lately, and I’m pretty happy with it in general. I’ve gotten right to the big denouement where the villain reveals his villainy (actually, he’s not really a villain, he’s a bumbling idiot who made a mistake) and then only one or two more things need to happen in the story before it’s finished. This means I need to write an ending.

I always balk a little bit when I get to this part of any story. One story ending means I need to start another one, just when I’d familiarized myself with a particular set of characters.  It feels like the end of an era, even though it’s not at all the end of the process. There’s still edits and revisions to be made, after all. But something about writing “The End” makes me feel a bit sad and wistful. (Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever ended a story with those words, but I’m trying to make a point here.)

With this particular story, I am  feeling even more balk-y than usual. I had a really good grasp on the plot throughout the writing process, but now that I’ve reached the end I can’t decide what kind of ending I want to write. My original plan was just a nice simple happy ending, but now that I actually have to write it, it makes me feel kind of icky. Like eating too much candy. Basically, it would go like this:

“And the hero and the adorable Munchkin girl escape the wasteland together and live happily ever after.”

Yuck. What the hell is the point of that? It’s easy, I guess. Nice and neat. These days, as well, it’s unusual for most stories to NOT have an ambiguous ending, so it’s kind of unique. Weirdly enough, it’s also hackneyed. Like naming a kid “Jane” : there might not be many Janes around today, but there are a million Janes stretching back into history.

The next option is, of course, the ambiguous ending. This is what I would most like to do, I think, maybe. Maybe not. I’m ambiguous about it. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to write it.

I could also write the unhappy ending, in which one or both of the characters die outright. This feels like a depressing end to kind of a depressing story about the collapse of a civilization. I also feel like writing a story in which the whole point is that EVERYONE dies is kind of, well, pointless. Sure, Shakespeare pulled it off countless times, but I’m not Shakespeare. I’m trying to write an entertaining sci-fi story here.  On the other hand, having ONE of the main characters die  might give me an opportunity for some interesting character development of the survivor.

I’m so torn. I think the solution might be to write ALL of the endings and decide which one I like best. Of course, since I am lazy, I am instead going to expend lots of energy trying to puzzle out how to write only one ending, even though I know it’s fruitless.

The End…

or is it?

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