Spoiler alert: Since we’re covering endings, there will be a huge spoiler included.
Recently, I saw Alice Through the Looking Glass. Though the storyline seemed very random, the ending left you feeling happy and satisfied. Endings are difficult for me to write—even in blog posts. The right ending can make a story or blog post resonate, while the wrong ending will make it fall flat. So, what can Alice Through the Looking Glass teach us about endings? Let’s look at several sub-plots to see how they did their endings right and how we can emulate them.
“Time is a thief and a villain,” Alice says at the beginning of the movie, referring to her father’s passing.
Little does she know that she will soon meet Time in the flesh. And by the end of the story, her views have changed drastically.
“I used to think time was a thief. But you give before you take. Time is a gift. Every minute. Every second.”
The Mad Hatter’s Family
At the beginning on the movie, the Mad Hatter suspects his family is alive, though it’s a well-known fact that they’ve died. Yet the Mad Hatter is positive they must be alive, after seeing the ruins of the village where they’d been killed many years afterwards and finding the first hat he’d ever made. If a hat could survive, why couldn’t his family?
As it turns out (spoiler alert!), his family is alive. The Red Queen has captured them for revenge. Of course, they’re rescued and are reunited with the Mad Hatter by the end of the movie.
The Queen of Hearts and the White Queen
As Alice travels back in time, we run across some history. Long ago, when they were both little girls, the White Queen lied to get the Queen of Hearts into trouble. The Queen of Hearts ran through the streets before slipping and hitting her head, causing it to swell tremendously and for her to hate the White Queen.
By the end of the movie, the White Queen offers a heartfelt apology. As it turns out, that was all the Queen of Hearts needed, and the sisters reconciled with each other.
Before Alice is whisked away to Wonderland, she discovers that her mother has sold her father’s ship, The Wonder. Alice is devastated, confused, and hurt, but by the end of the movie, she comes to realize that her mother in more important than a ship, so she agrees to sell it in order to keep their house. On a sudden impulse, the mother refuses to sell the ship, and instead Alice and her mother become captain and co-captain as they explore the world.
So what can we learn from Alice Through the Looking Glass?
Tying Off Loose Ends
At the beginning of the movie, several problems were presented that various characters wanted to fix, like The Wonder being sold or finding the Mad Hatter’s “deceased” family. But certain subplots were simply foreshadowed—like Alice understanding Time. In the beginning, she didn’t want to understand Time, and she didn’t even know Time was a person.
Something was planted in the beginning. It could have been a goal or an incomplete character arc, and instead of leaving those threads hanging, the producers tied off the story nicely by giving the character what they wanted or completing the arc.
What are some goals you could give your character in the beginning? And how could you make sure that those are accomplished by the end? For example, let’s say that there’s a little kid who’s always dreamed of getting his baseball signed by a famous baseball star. Maybe you could have him watching a baseball game at the beginning and explaining his wishes to a friend. Or maybe he’s trying to knock on the baseball star’s door to ask him to sign the ball, but security won’t let him through. What goals does your character have? How can you show them trying and failing to reach their goal? And then how can you give it to them by the end?
You can present an incomplete character arc roughly the same way you’d present an unfulfilled goal. At the beginning, give the reader a “before” scene, where the character exemplifies the Lie he/she believes. By the end of the story, give them a parallel scene that presents a similar situation, but the character reacts totally differently, giving the reader an “after” scene and showing them that the character really has changed.
In Alice Through the Looking Glass, Alice tells her mother, “The last thing I want is to end up like you,” after hearing that her mother sold The Wonder. She then storms off.
At the end of the movie, Alice walks in on her mother signing the deed to sell the ship, but instead of exploding, Alice tells her mother that she understands. After all, it’s just a ship. This is completely different from what we’ve seen before, giving us a perfect “before” and “after” scene for contrast.
Now, it’s your turn! What are some character goals you could present in your book? How could you fulfill them by the end? How can you craft a perfect “before” and “after” scene for your character?
Want to learn about writing opening scenes from Fantastic Four?