Monday, May 12, 2014
Rewriting "The End"
By Meredith Cole
I know how hard it is to write a mystery so I always try to be patient when I read a book. After all, the author sweated over their plot, their characters, the setting and details for months (or even years), so I need to relax and enjoy all their hard work. But it's difficult once you know how the sausage is made, and have seen it made thousands of times (and have now made it yourself a time or two) to not get impatient when books have sloppy endings.
I know that it's tough to come up with new plots, but there are quite a few hokey ones that mystery readers have seen way too often, and writers should really avoid. The identical twins twist is definitely one of them. I was reading some book or another and thought to myself, "I really hope there isn't an identical twin." And sadly there was. So I felt ripped off twice, both by the hokiness of the plot and the fact that I had guessed the ending so early. I want to be surprised and entertained. That's the fun of reading a mystery for me. I don't want to guess the ending (until almost the end of the book) and be right.
So what well-known mystery would I change the ending or murderer? It's hard for me to think of just one. But I can say, although I love her books and her writing (especially her wonderful Italian food descriptions), Donna Leon's endings totally frustrate me. No matter who the murderer is, they never seem to be brought to justice. The evil-doers are always part of some giant untouchable organization that can "get away with murder." So in the end the detective shrugs and calls it a day. There is never any justice in her books. I find that very depressing. So I can read one at a time before I have to take a break and go read something else with a wonderful, satisfying ending.