Catching Fire, and a Word on Endings

I got to go to the theater to watch something besides a kid movie. I have my husband to thank for it because it was his birthday. We watched Catching Fire, and, as already widely reported, it was awesome. It was violent, but I’d read the books so I expected that. I’d just finished the final revision (Please let that be the final revision, on my book, so endings were on my mind. Endings are important, especially in a series. They have to pull double duty by tidying up the current storyline and serving as a springboard, or at the very least a signpost, to the next book.

And that brings me to Catching Fire. I suppose I should give a spoiler alert warning here, though I can’t imagine that every person who wants to know the story hasn’t already read the books or seen the movie, but if you haven’t and you’re twitchy about spoilers, walk away now. Thanks for visiting, and come back tomorrow.

Okay, now that they’re gone. Near the end, Katniss destroys the arena in which the Hunger Games are being held. The scene is true to her character and very dramatic. Then the hovercraft comes to pick her up, and you think, uh-oh, but no– it’s all good. Haymitch, Katniss’s mentor for the games, played by Woody Harrelson is there. Here is where I have to say that Harrelson is as awesome in this movie as he was in the first one. He brings something surprising to the character, while at the same time being entirely consistent with the character as written. So Haymitch is there, and he fills her in right quick that this was all part of the plan. The allies she made and the help she got was all by design to aid the rising resistance. Haymitch says, “This is the revolution.”

Boom! I got chills. I’m getting chills now remembering it. That, my friends, is how you end a story. “This is the revolution.”

Except the movie didn’t end there. We got treated to three minutes or so of how the next movie is going to start. Guess what. It’s going to start with a revolution. The entire third book was about the revolution, so it’s safe to say we saw that one coming.

“This is the revolution.” If you have a line like that, there is nothing else to say. You roll the Vader’s theme-style music, and the audience leaves with fists pumping and immediately starts counting the days until the release of the next movie. You don’t squander that kind of emotional punch by following it up with some low key transition scene. In the end, it’s emotion more than a need to know what will happen next that makes readers crave more of a story.

“This is the revolution.” Trust me. There is nothing more to say.

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Posted in Books, Writing
One comment on “Catching Fire, and a Word on Endings
  1. Nan says:

    Amen, baby!! What a fabulous exit line and what a shame they ran over it with three more minutes of “hey, here’s what’s coming,” The effect of the whole “stay tuned” message got lost. Even I recognize that and I’ve never read the books or seen either of the movies. But you hit a sore point with me because I’m so in agreement with you about elegant exits. That was why the gorgeous epilogue I wrote for Once More From the Top wasn’t in the book. It was too much…and yes, I caved and put it up as bonus material on my website, but that made it optional and readers didn’t have to do it if they chose not to.

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