Erika Wassall, the Jersey Farm Scribe here with…
Alternative Endings… for someone else!
One of the greatest pieces of advice I ever received as a writer was so simple.
Write every day.
Every. Single. Day.
It’s not an easy feat. Even if you don’t count Sundays, because… well honestly, because it’s just a good excuse to have a day off… that’s still a LOT of writing.
Whether I’m freelance writing for a catalog or magazine, polishing up a short story, working on a manuscript or even just writing out a letter to a friend, I make every effort to put the pen to paper every day.
And yup, you read that correctly. I write letters to friends. Like actual on paper letters. Stamp. Mailbox. The whole bit. LOL. And I think it counts. It’s writing! It’s stretching and exercising those creative muscles.
So today I thought I’d tell you about my favorite creative exercise that I go to on those days when I don’t have a deadline. Or maybe I only have 20 minutes, and I need to find something I can dive into quickly and easily that will get the creative goo in my mind bubbling. (I see it as a sort of neon blue slime in a cauldron)
Re-write Someone Else’s Work!!
Have you ever watched a movie or TV show and find yourself devastatingly disappointed? They had such a great idea, a really unique and intriguing concept, but they just didn’t come through like you thought they would. And you had SUCH high hopes.
Here’s your chance to fix it!
There’s no need for an explanation or backstory. All that work has already been done for you. All you need to do is jump in on the “good parts”. Re-write the horrible romantic scene from your favorite chick-flick. Give that psychological thriller a twist that you DIDN’T see coming. Write an ending for a Steven King novel that you thought fell flat.
It opens up a lot of doors and can be a really fun exercise. Plus, when I’m watching something and the end really disappoints me, I can tuck it away to fix later that week.
Anyone else watch the sitcom How I Met Your Mother? The series ended a few months ago. Loved the show. Hated the ending. So I decided to fix it.
For those who know the show: in my ending, Robin and Barney ended up secretly together. Not “dating” so much. But let’s just say more than friends. This gave me a chance to play with elaborate-scheme concepts and their dynamic personalities without what I saw as the show’s weak effort at sudden “deep realizations”.
Lilly and Marshall: Happy ever after. You just don’t mess with some things.
And Ted? Ted and their mother got divorced and he became a very successful architect. Single. And happy. His big character change became realizing that not everyone has to be in love to be happy!!!
And in all honesty, to me… that’s how it happened. So instead of it ending with me rolling my eyes and shaking my head, I was able to get the bad taste out of my mouth and settle into an ending that mades me both laugh and smile.
My favorite thing about this exercise is that my brain starts to automatically do it when I watch TV. I’ll be sitting on the couch, and I’ll say to myself… ech… that scene could have been better! And instead of just criticizing it, I immediately start daydreaming about how I could make it better.
It makes me less lazy!
Instead of being disappointed, I get creative! Here’s some other movies or TV shows that I’ve created alternative scenes or endings to:
The Little Mermaid – (my favorite character was Ursula. So she wins in my version)
Got any endings you think you could do better, or scenes that really left you wanting more? Scribble down some notes when you’re watching. And then give the exercise a try sometime when you’re stuck or looking for something different to do.
Did reading this make you think of an ending that’s always disappointed you? Let us know what it is! It’s always fun to hear what other people are thinking, and helps us spark our own ideas.
The creativity and written word this can inspire can indirectly breathe life into your manuscripts. And you know how strongly I believe that they are worth it!
Erika Wassall is a writer, a farmer and a liver of life. She is a member of SCBWI and a proud Mad Scientist, bringing science experiments right into children’s classrooms, and hearts. She has a small farm in New Jersey with sheep, chickens, pigs and vegetables. Check out her new website at www.TheJerseyFarmScribe.com where as a first generation farmer, she often takes the long way, learning the tricks of the trade on The Farm. On her website is also The Shop page with tips and a free Q/A from her husband’s mechanic shop, and The Writer page where she shares stories, experiences and characters from the heart. Follow her on Twitter at @NJFarmScribe. She’d love to hear from you!
Thank you Erika for another great post. Lauren Oliver says she did this for many books and it helped her improve her writing skills. It is referred to as Fan Fiction. I know there have been a lot of books I threw down in disgust after reading their unsatisfying ending.