Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Yet Another B3 Ending

This is so spoilered I haven't even written it yet.

About half an hour ago (as I was moving the sheets from the washer to the drier), I got to thinking yet again about the ending to This World We Live In. You may recall I wrote an ending on Friday, then decided it wasn't strong enough and wrote another ending on Saturday.

Something about wet sheets made me think about my original plan for the ending of B3- Charlie not merely dying, but being killed by one of the other characters, and Miranda choosing not to know who did it. The Saturday ending simply has Charlie dying (on Friday, Charlie lived).

I remembered that I wanted Charlie's death to be a mercy killing because I wanted something complicated to end the book with, a debatable moral issue.

So as I moved the sheets to the drier, I considered changing the ending yet again. As of the moment, Charlie is crushed to death as he tries to get out of Mrs. Nesbitt's demolished by the tornado house. Dad declares that Charlie died immediately.

But what if Charlie doesn't die immediately? What if he's only partially crushed and is crying out (as I originally planned for him to do), Let me die! Let me die!

In an earlier part of the book, Miranda and Alex come across a houseful of food, and a shotgun. Miranda is the last person to carry the shotgun, which means it stayed in her house.

So now I'm thinking Charlie's lying there in agony and (hold onto your hats), Mom goes back to the house, gets the shotgun, and kills Charlie with it.

Talk about moral ambiguity!

The other possible shooters are pretty much anybody but Alex (who's still semi-conscious). But I can't see Julie leaving Alex's side, Matt, Miranda, or Jon caring enough about Charlie to put him out of his misery, Dad leaving Lisa (who has just escaped also), Lisa, who most likely wants only to be with baby Gabriel again and Syl. But Syl, who Jon and Miranda regard as responsible for Horton's death, is too obvious a choice. Which Mom certainly is not.

So that's where things are at this moment. The idea is less than an hour old, and I'm not going to do any rewrites until next week at the earliest, so I have time to consider and reconsider. There's an old Hollywood rule that if you establish there's a gun early in a movie, at some point later in the movie that gun will get used, and I don't like following cliche rules, so I'm not crazy about the shotgun being mentioned and then a hundred or so pages later being used.

But I do love the image of Mom (Mom!) shooting poor Charlie's brains out. And since this blog is all about process, I figured I'd let you know where the process was taking me.

And now I'll fold the sheets.

ETA: If you want to comment on this idea, please do. I'm curious to know what your thoughts are, since mine are still in inchoate territory.


Wendy said...

I'm not sure quite what I think of the idea, but it's certainly in character for Mom. At least, I believe it is.

Emily Koskey said...

omigosh! mom killing charlie would be perfect!! hehehe i would love it!


Anonymous said...

I would have mom try to do it, but she couldn't - then something happens and the gun goes off anyway.


Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi to Wendy and Emily Koskey and Glen-

I had a long talk with my friend Christy last night. Christy doesn't like violence, so she was a good person to talk things out with.

Her primary concern seemed to be that it be clear Charlie's condition is unsalvagable. She wasn't happy with Mom blowing him away with a shotgun, but if Mom did such a thing (and Christy agreed, it was within Mom's character to do so), Mom had better not be mistaken.

I benefited a lot from the conversation, since it put things into perspective about why I wanted the scene to go that way. I'd always planned on Charlie to be mercy killed, but I thought there'd be uncertainty about who did it or if it really happened (or did he die of natural causes).

But this new ending forces all of them to accept what happened. It could also make for a big final split between Miranda (who accepts what Mom did) and Alex (who regards it as sinful). In fact, it could create so many fissures that I can't even figure out this moment who reacts how and what the consequences would be.

So that's where things are right now. I'm glad I'm not doing rewrites until next week at the earliest, because this is one big change, and I need to see just how it would play out.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,

I think that Mom...and maybe, MAYBE Matt...are the only people who could do it. It would be pretty powerful for Mom to do, considering the she still agorophobic? Am I using the right phobia?

The really important question, of course, is: Never lose Faith, Always have Hope, and...? What's the third bookplate going to be? :D

I think it would be a really strong ending, and would certainly add to classroom discussions and the like. I hope you can work it in.


Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Good morning (here at least) Aoife
and thank you for your comment-

I'd been planning on the third bookplate to say Trust In Tomorrow, which is something Alex tells Miranda midway through the book, and is pretty much the last sentence of the book (some variation of There is a tomorrow).

Of course for Charlie, there isn't a tomorrow, so I may have to rethink that!

Paige said...

I think it would be heartwrenching but irresistable to have Mom kill Charlie. But since it is Miranda's diary, wouldn't she have to witness it? It will be interesting to see how Miranda's point of view effects the event.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Paige-

My new ending, which I'm going to beginning writing in a few minutes, keeps the shotgun out of Mom's hands. It would have been fun to write it that way, but I love the new ending I've come up with.

The funniest thing about the Mom/Charlie ending was a phone call I got from my brother. He said that ending reminded him of the ending in my Sebastian Sisters books, where it turned out the mother did something the father had been blamed for.

I told him he was wrong, the father had done it, but he insisted. So I pulled out the books, and he was right. It'd been so long, I'd forgotten my own ending.

I've been meaning to reread those books for ages now (I never read what I wrote, but I loved the Sebastian Sisters), and now my brother has spoilered the ending for me!

Ozziegirl said...

I have not read the books LAWKI/d&g
but i have heard great things about it. I love to read books that have a sense of mystery. I hope I will be able to read one soon!!! I have heard that there is skiing in one of the books omg I LOVE TO SKI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Ozziegirl-

I hope when you read the books you will enjoy them (I certainly enjoyed writing them).

Be forewarned though- it's cross country skiing, not downhill.

Ozziegirl said...

Thats ok cross country skiing is still skiing!!! WAt inspires the stories u write i have to write a report of school and have no were to start!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ozziegirl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Ozziegirl-

I don't know that anything "inspires" me, but I love to tell stories about families working their way through very difficult times.