As I continue bushwhacking through the murky slough of last pages, I am faced with my usual downfall. Plot and its necessary cameo in an “earned” ending.
Earlier this summer, in the workshop I took from Steve Almond, his assertion that plot is merely the mechanism by which a writer moves her character more deeply into danger is one I’ve carried in my pocket as I try to dream up shit I can throw in the path of Ivy and Daniel, my central characters.
Now I’m faced with the denouement. The aha! whilst tying up loose ends, trying not to be contrived, and taking the reader through one last swerve wherein I ask them to suspend disbelief for a final time. The authority required to pull this off sometimes makes me think: yeah, well, and maybe I can show up in court and pretend I’m a judge or try my hand at brain surgery.
In the Wizard of Oz, the denouement is when Glinda tells Dorothy she’s had the power to go back to Kansas all along. That with a click of her heels, she can return. It’s that final burst of humanity that we all recognize. The stuff that happens in dreams to make sense of snakes that turn into monkeys and so forth.
In Unkiss Me, I’ve set up a “poison apple” metaphor. Forbidden fruit, longing, powerlessness and the sublime being, always, just a bit out of reach. My ending needs to speak to that and there are a zillion clichés from which to pick.
It’s important to me that Ivy and Daniel be redeemed. Both of them. But I can’t lurch them recklessly onto white steeds and send them cantering, hand and hand, into the sunset.
The other thing is, I’ve turned a couple of, if not beloved, then at least likable characters into shitheads in the final pages. This perhaps mirrors, for the reader, the betrayal felt by the central characters.
What I’m getting at is, I’m in the midst of a very delicious conundrum. Preoccupied in a satisfying way. The dream is alive in my head, and I blindly stumble about in the “what if?” of it all. If writing is my drug, I’m close to overdosing. Bliss!