Monday, November 7, 2011

Writing clichés


How many mystery writers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Two. One to screw it almost all the way in, and the other to give it a surprising twist at the end.

Writers are told to have a ‘twist at the end.’ It’s almost dogma for picture books. Ever since Where the Wild Things Are, endings are supposed to make the listener/reader gasp. Whoa.

As a writer I find these easy to conjure, and they are satisfying to create. As a reader, I find that I long for the quieter, old fashioned, and more organic last paragraph.

The twist at the end has become cliché.

Light bulb now in. No light. Turns out the wiring was faulty.

12 comments:

  1. I appreciate both twists and quieter endings. If the writing is wonderful, I really don't need a huge shock.

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  2. haha! love the joke! yes, most books seem to have a twist! nice point.

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  3. Ha! I love that screw in the lightbulb joke. I see what you mean about the twist at the end becoming predictable. I like twists, but I also like pb endings that wrap things up and imply the story will continue in some way.

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  4. LOL! cute joke. I like a good twist, but only if it's done well. Some twists just feel too forced.

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  5. Twists can be fun, but I also like the other kinds of books. I think a twist may also lose something in the numerous re-readings of a story.

    Fun joke, Mirka, and fun twist at the end of your post. :)

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  6. I love twists all throughout a book, not just at the end. In fact, I kind of prefer twists along the way and a neater ending--unless it's a series. Then I'm fine with twists at the end that make me eager to read the next book.

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  7. Yes, the twist at the end seems to be what everyone is looking for. You're lucky that they come easy to you; I always struggle to find a twisty ending that works. I understand what you mean about a quieter ending though. It seems like there should be room for both types of endings to fit the child that's being read to.

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  8. I also love quiet books. My grown daughters and I will often roll our eyes at the gimmicky books today and reminisce about some of the "good old books" from their childhood. I think there's a place for both types, but I'm hard pressed today to find PBs of a quieter nature.

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  9. I too struggle with twists--they have to be organic to the story as a whole. I agree that both are appealing, if done well, but what I really love is a totally original story or cast of characters. Then, all I ask is that the ending be coherent and of-a-piece with the theme of the story.

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