Pirates and Priests

You know what sucks? (Okay. Besides, you know, natural disasters, mean people, and running out of ice cream at an emotionally difficult time.) Let me rephrase that question. You know what my least favorite part about writing is? Endings. Yep. You’d think, after spending all that time with the characters and world and story, everything would just sort of wrap itself neatly up with a bow on top. (All of you writers out there, stop laughing. I know. But I used to think that’s the way it should happen. At least, until my favorite character died tragically at the end of my first story. Sniff…)

Seriously, though, endings are hard. Very hard. For me, anyway. Even if I know where I want the story to go, it’s difficult to make the denouement live up to the rest of the story. And that’s very important. If the ending doesn’t resolve things satisfactorily, then, as a reader, I’m left with the impression that the entire book sucked (for lack of a better word). If it does live up to the promise of the rest of the book, then a shiny golden aura surrounds the book in my mind. I want that aura around my own stories, so I get a case of…performance anxiety about the ending. Two movies I saw recently are good examples of good endings…and not-so-good ones. (No spoilers. I swear.)

I saw Priest a couple of weeks ago. Still not sure how I got talked into that, since I don’t do scary movies, and the trailer looked…quite scary. Vampires, Paul Bettany, and Karl Urban would normally be a sure bet for me, if it weren’t for the scary part. The movie had an interesting premise: vampires had once almost overrun the world, and a bada** group of warrior-priests were created to fight them and confine them to reservations. We’re not talking about cute, sparkly vampires here, either. Gross, slimy, beastly monsters is much more accurate. Anyway, the niece of one of the priests gets snatched by vamps and he defies the church in order to go after her. Turns out, his old priest buddy, whom he thought was killed by vampires, is actually the first known human vampire and is in charge of a nifty new vampire army intent on destroying all humans. It had all the makings of an epic showdown. The reality was….well, the words “anti-climatic,’ “convenient,” and “disappointing” leap immediately to mind.

Last night, I saw the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie: On Stranger Tides. Now, pretty much everyone on the planet should know the basic premise of the Pirates movies (and if you don’t, exactly what rock have you been hiding under?). They’re not deep, soul-searching types of movies. But fun and entertaining, yes. So, Captain Jack is trying to reach the Fountain of Youth before the English delegation, led by his old nemesis Captain Barbossa, and the Spanish delegation. Oh, and he’s up against the notorious Blackbeard, and Blackbeard’s daughter, whom Sparrow has a history with. Of course, much chaos and hand-gesturing ensues, but in the end, you know there’s going to be a big, violent showdown with lots of Captain Jack’s tricks and maneuverings. And the movie doesn’t disappoint. That’s exactly what happens. The viewer is not disappointed. Guess which movie I liked more?

So, as I get ready to start outlining my new story, my thought is this: I want a Pirates ending, not a Priestly one. (And as a side note, the vampire mermaids in Pirates are pretty freaking cool!)


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