Daily Archives: March 22, 2010

The Final Curtain

This weekend marked my DD’s last performance for our local children’s theater.  In the eighth grade, she is too old to act in next year’s spring production.  Over the years, she’s been a swamp monster, a gansta, a maid a wife, a jitterbug, a…well, you get the picture.  She’s been there a while and is a natural performer.

Sunday was tough.  True to my usual, emotional self, I cried when that final curtain closed.  It is an era I will greatly miss. 

This sense of finality is the same one I get upon finishing a good book.  I lament the loss of the characters and wish I could follow them for just a bit longer.  Just one more play, please.  A line or two to make departure not quite so harsh. 

I don’t want to watch my characters disappear behind a curtain, knowing I will never hear from them again. 

However, writing on and on long after the climax peaks is never the right answer to maintaining a relationship with favorite characters.  Nor is trying to resurrect them in sequels, trilogies or series after the story is spent. 

Instead, we have to learn to graciously dim the lights and let the curtain fall.  Hoping, praying, knowing that a new character will take the stage, and with it, our hearts.

At least I know that’s the case in real life.  You see, my Middle Son has been in plays for the last two years.  Youngest wants to join him in the spotlight next year when he comes of age (1st grade).  They will bring new humor, drama, animation, character and talent to the theater.  Different?  Definitely.  And that’s a good thing.

I shall gladly welcome in the new cast of performers. 

Both on the stage and in my books.  For the last curtain never truly falls as long as we live with fertile imaginations, task-master muses and prolific plot bunnies.

By ending each story at–well–the end, we can keep our favorite characters vibrant and alive in our minds.  These successess pave the way for ferreting out the next generation of actors.  Our stories will not get dulled by hanging on to our favorite MC’s with unrequited love.

I have often heard aspiring writers talk about their sequels, trilogies or series.  The next eight books….  Even I am guilty of fostering a love affair with a particular pirate family and have scads of ideas for a series.  The second book is already half written.  I don’t want to release them.

So how do we know when The End is really the end?  When do we drop the final curtain on a story? 

Ar you guilty of adding scenes, chapters or epilogues because you simply can’t say good bye?  Or, do you cut off the action immediately after the climax, leaving readers to feel cheated out of a standing ovation?  How do you wrap up just before typing the end?