Thursday, February 17, 2011

Jeannie Watt asks When Will It End?

You know, it occurs to me that I should have called this blog “How Does It End?” rather than “When Will It End?” because with every book I write, I say to myself, “Oh, dear heavens, how does it end?”  

The worst time was when I put one of those count-down gadgets on my computer desktop with the book’s due date on it. I watched as the days ticked by…six days, five days, four days…No ending to the book.  I started leaving my computer turned off and writing on legal pads so I didn’t have to face the count down gadget. I was approaching  zero hour and I didn’t know how the book was going to end. Happily ever after, yes, but how? How? How? How?

Finally, the day before the book was due—or maybe it was the day it was due—I sat at the keyboard, placed my fingers on the home keys, closed my eyes (having taken several secretarial classes, I rarely look at the keys unless I’m doing numbers. My mother can do the numbers without looking, which utterly amazes me) and began to write. I just started slapping some words onto the page. Free writing really. Then it started taking form. Really? She’s going to do that? Huh. Who would have expected him to react like that? Wow—maybe these two have a chance to get together. Maybe I have an ending!

A week later, I got a note from my editor saying it was one of the best endings she’d recently read. I was hoping she’d read Gone with the Wind that week, but she probably hadn’t.

All of this has made me wonder about other writers and their endings, as well as favorite endings. I was going to ask about good endings in general, but in the interest of not spoiling any endings for people with giant TBR piles, I have decided to ask about classic endings—of movies or books.

The question:  What is your favorite classic ending?

The prize: A copy of Maddie Inherits a Cowboy or one of my backlist.

My answer: An Officer and a Gentleman.  All I can say is, wow, what an ending.

68 comments:

scarlet wilson said...

Cheese. I love cheese in a romance movie. Bridget Jones. Four Weddings and a Funeral with that really cheesy ending in the rain. Overall favourite cheesy ending? It's between Jerry McGuire "you had me at hello" and the old black and white movie An Affair to Remember.
Best end of other movies? Got to be ET. Can't beat it!
By the way Jeannie, you never told us what book you were writing that your editor loved the ending - do tell?

Snookie said...

Jeannie, as long as the endings are happy and believable, I'm happy :) I just finished Maddie Inherits a Cowboy I really enjoyed reading it!

Kristin Noel Fischer said...

Jeanne, I agree with Scarlet about super sappy endings. Loved "Pretty Woman" when he climbs the fire escape.

I was so disappointed in "It's Complicated." Loved the movie, but hated the ending. Why couldn't they get back together? Why?

Do you remember "Sommersby" with Richard Gere and Jodi Foster? He dies in the end. Why couldn't she have saved him?

I'm not hard to please. Give me the happy, sappy ending and I'll love you forever.

Kristin Noel Fischer

Anita Joy said...

Love a happy ending, so any classic happy ending has me. In fact only like a movie if it has a happy ending (hard to narrow down my favourite) - "Ever After" (or any Cinderella-esque book/movie).

Much easier to pick a least fave... Pirates of the Carribean #3. I'm sorry, spending one day every ten years with the love of your life is NOT a happy ending.

Ellen Hartman said...

BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY!!

I'm sorry. Was I shouting? I just really, really, really love the ending of that movie.

I'm with you, Jeannie, I also love the ending of An Officer and a Gentleman.

You know what I think is great in movies? Dancing endings. There are good ones in Footloose, the original Fever Pitch (with Colin Firth), and one of my favorite dancing endings, The Imposters, with Stanley Tucci and Oliver Platt.

P.S. I'm with you on writing endings. I have 6 books under my belt and not a single one wound up on the shelf with the ending I turned in to the editor. I'm incapable of writing a satisfying ending the first time around. I might as well leave it blank...hmmm, I wonder what Victoria would think of that plan.

Rula Sinara said...

There are so many, including the ones mentioned above, but I'll add Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant. When he comes to her in the end and she breaks down crying, my tears poured shamelessly.

I already have all of your books, so no need to put me in the draw :). I'm dying to know which book has the ending that you're talking about!

Loves 2 Read Romance - Laura said...

I also have the book so please don't enter me. My favorite ending that hard! I love some of the ones already mentioned like Ever After, Pretty Woman, An Affair to Remember. Some that haven't been mentioned Casablanca, Ella Enchanted, Gone with the Wind. I know that some aren't happy but they are still good!! Also which book has the ending you were talking about??

avoriana said...

Wait, you LIKE the ending of Gone With the Wind? That is NOT a happy ending. It should have been Scarlett and Rhett together forever! They really saw each other, and no, love cannot be used up.

Virginia C said...

Hi, Jeannie! Great love stories never really end, but there may be a pause here and there ; ) 1) Casablanca--someday, somehow, Rick and Ilsa will find each other again! 2) Gone With the Wind--Rhett will stay with Scarlett until he can no longer stand it, and then he will leave. He will repeat this cycle over and over. He can't help himself! 3) For Whom the Bell Tolls--Knowing he will surely be killed in order to save others, Robert sends Maria to safety, telling her to live for him. As she is led away, she cries out "Roberto, Roberto". We see Robert's face (and the incredible, expressive blue eyes of Gary Cooper), and then we hear gunfire which signals Robert's death. 4) Duel in the Sun--Gregory Peck (gorgeous, and soooo naughty) and Jennifer Jones love, lust and eventually liquidate each other in a shootout in the hills. 5) Conagher--Real life husband and wife Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross star in an amazing film adaption of a classic Louis L'Amour story. A true western adventure blended with a sweet prairie romance between a loner and a widow. At the end of the film, after Conagher has won his last battle, his love, Evie, comes to take him home where he belongs with her and her children.

jcp said...

I hated the ending of "The Break-Up" and "Miracle in the Rain and From Here to Eternity".

msullivan said...

Great post, Jeannie. Two of my favorite movie endings are Pride and Prejudice with Matthew McFadyen (huge sigh) and Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant. Emma is sooo good in that role. I also loved Alan Rickman! So glad he got his happy ending, too.

Kristina Mathews said...

My favorite romantic ending is from When Harry Met Sally. "When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible."

My other favoirite ending, although not technically a romance but it was the first movie I saw with my husband on a date, is the end of Field of Dreams. I get goosebumps even writing "Dad, you wanna have a catch?"

Tammy Yenalavitch said...

I like happy endings. One of my favorites is It Could Happen to You with Nicolas Cage and Bridget Fonda. I like Moonstruck, Love Actually and Bridget Jones Diary as well.

Mary Brady said...

Jeannie, great post! LOL about writing the endings.

People have mentioned a lot of fabulous endings. Also on my favorites list is from the movie Proof of Life with Russell Crowe and Meg Ryan. Possible Spoiler Alert here! The way Terry watches Alice in the end seems to say, “You have awoken the romance in me—something I never thought I deserved—and I’ll love you forever for that.”

Jackie S. said...

Love happy endings!!Would love to read your book!

Jeannie Watt said...

Hi Scarlet--I love cheese, too. I like to tear up and know it's crazy to be so caught up in an ending that I knew was coming, but sniff away anyway. I cry at happy endings.

The book was A Cowboy's Redemption. I had my hero leave the heroine in Boise and go back to Nevada because he just didn't belong in her world. He knew it. She knew it. I knew it. I was stymied. And then I just started writing and when I was done, the characters were together.

Rula Sinara said...

Too funny that A Cowboy's Redemption gave you a hard time, because that's the first book I read by you. I loved it sooo much that I went and bought all your other books. I thought the ending was brilliant. It has one of my favorite beginnings too. I think I held my breath through one chapter near the start, LOL! I don't want to give away why for anyone who hasn't read it yet.

Kaelee said...

Hi Jeannie, I started reading Maddie Inherits a Cowboy on Valentine's Day. I didn't like Madeline to begin with but grew to love her as she changed from Madeline to Maddie. I loved the ending.
I had read this post earlier and was trying to figure out which book had the ending you were talking about. I had narrowed it down to A Cowboy's Redemption and Once and For All. Please don't enter my name in the draw as I have all your books.

I don't watch a lot of movies but I have seen An Officer and a Gentleman. My favorite movie is Dirty Dancing.

Jeannie Watt said...

Hi Snookie--I'm glad you liked the book. I rewrote that ending three times before I got one that felt right.

Jeannie Watt said...

HI Kristen--I've never seen Sommersby, and if she couldn't save him, then I may not indulge. I'm such a wienie sometimes. But I loved the ending of Pretty Woman. I like it when the guy (or gal) changes so much that they do thinks they never would have done in the beginning of the story--although I guess that's what a great stroy is all about, isn't it?

Hurray for happy sappy endings!

Jeannie Watt said...

Anita Joy--the first time I watched Pirates #3 I missed the ending, because I thought it was over before it was, and I was a little bummed that they didn't wrap up the romance. The second time the movie was on, I was crocheting, so didn't change the channel at the "end" and that was when I saw him come back to her. Let me tell you, that was better than the "first" ending. But yes, ten years--long time.

Jeannie Watt said...

Ellen--What a grand idea, leaving the ending blank to fill in later. Or perhaps come up with a choose-your-own-adventure format.

I'm going to come clean and confess that I have never seen Bridget Jones's Diary. I blame my husband. He's not huge into chick flicks, although he did watch 27 Dresses with me. I'll have to order it up on Netflix and watch it on my computer.

Jeannie Watt said...

Rula--I love all movies made from Jane Austin books. My favorite is the 1980's BBC miniseries version. My daughter owns two copies because she wore her first one out watching during times of stress in college. She lived with her borhter, so he has seen Pride and Prejudice more times than he can probably count. My dauther says that knowing who Mr. Darcy is will be a point winner with the right girl.

PatriciaW said...

Love and Basketball when Sanaa Lathan plays Omar Epps a game for the prize of his heart.

Jeannie Watt said...

Laura--Good endings one and all! I do love the end of Casablanca. When they made that movie, it's my understanding that they pretty wrote the script/story from day to day. What a great ending, if that was indeed the process.

Avoriana--I agree. GWTW is not a happy ending. It is the book that started me writing romance, although I understand now that as written it's a love story, not a romance. I always knew in my heart that after life had beat them up some more, they'd get back together, older, wiser. That's my theory, anyway.

Virginia--Hey--great minds think alike! Your take on what was going to happen with Rhett and Scarlett is the same as mine. Those two are destined to be together. And Conagher--how I love Sam Elliot, Katherine Ross and that story.

Jeannie Watt said...

TYPO ALERT--Please forgive my typos. I'm using this little tiny computer and answering posts between classes, lol. I just noticed that my daughter lived with her borther. Perhaps that's a cross between a brother and a bother, lol.

Jeannie Watt said...

Hey Mary--I LOVE Alan Rickman, which reminds me--even though he was the bad guy--the ending of Quigley Down Under was quite satisfying. I adored Crazy Cora. And again, I'm a fan of any Jane Austen adaptation movie.

Jeannie Watt said...

Kristina--Great quote! And I love Field of Dreams! I didn't expect to like it and ended up mesmerized. It's the first movie I saw Ray Liotta in. It was so well cast and so fun to watch.

Tammy--Great endings. I haven't seen It Could Happen to You, so will put that one on my Netflix queue.

Mary--I haven't seen Proof of Life, but my husband will watch anything with Russell Crowe, so I'll have to get that one, too.

Jeannie Watt said...

Jackie S.--I love happy endings, too. I hope your get a chance to read my book.

liztalley said...

Well, I'm a fan of several of the movies you all mentioned, especially Sense and Sensibility and Bridget Jones. Colin Firth's last line (which I can't repeat here ;)) is my favorite last line.

I really love the ending of Notting Hill. It's one of my favorite movies. I love the press conference and when Hugh Grant says, "The readers of Horse and Hound would like to know if there is any reason you might stay..." can't remember it exactly, but I love that movie. And the music is good...how they play that "She" song and Julia Roberts is lying very pregnant in his lap in that garden. Oh, I think I'll be watching that one again this weekend.

Great topic, Jeannie. I haven't read Maddie Inherits a Cowboy yet, but I guess I will soon :) Too intriguing to pass up.

Jeannie Watt said...

Rula--Yep, A Cowboy's Redemption was a nail biter.

Kaelee--Wow, I'm impressed that you were able to narrow down the endings so well. I agree with you--Dirty Dancing is great.

Patricia--You just gave me another movie to find. Thank you!

Victoria said...

Okay, if any of my authors start submitting blank pages for endings, I reserve the right to fill them in however I please. AND, just to warn you, I seem to gravitate toward sad endings. (I know, I know, how did I end up editing romances?)

My fave endings have got to be Gallipoli (crescendo of exquisite music, slow-mo charge out of the WW1 trenches, unarmed, toward certain death, waaaa!) and Ordinary People...which isn't entirely sad as father and son express their love for each other.

Huh. I'm sure there's a happy one I like out there...

Victoria

Beth Andrews said...

Jeannie, I often wonder IF the book I'm writing is EVER going to end *g* It's harder for me to get to that ending than to figure out what it is!

My favorite ending is in my very favorite movie, It's A Wonderful Life. I'm tearing up just thinking about all of those people coming to George's rescue and how happy he is to have his life back :-)

Laura Russell said...

Jane Austen's Persuasion has a great ending. At the beginning it's clear the heroine made a big mistake and it feels impossible that she could ever get her happy ending and then she does.

Karina Bliss said...

Jeannie, I find if I don't 'have' the gist of an ending at the beginning it's much harder to write. Guess there's a symmetry there if you know your 'bookends.' I love the BBC (Colin Firth) Pride & Prejudice ending. That kiss. Finally.
Karina

ClaudiGC said...

Ah, great post! I adore happy endings as well! I think most of my favorite happy endings have been already named. But I just recently watched the "new" Emma (with Romola Garai) and I loved the ending! I've watched it over a dozen times already! :) When they finally admit their love for each other and then Emma has second thoughts about leaving her father...it's so sweet!
Good luck with your latest book!

Jeannie Watt said...

Hey Victoria--You've successfully squelched my blank-pages-in-place-of-an-ending scheme with the mere mention of Gallipoli. I was traumatized for weeks after that movie. The Deer Hunter got to me, too. Oddly, being a happy ending girl, one of my favorite movies is Five Easy Pieces, which doesn't have a happy ending.

Jeannie Watt said...

Liz--You've made me want to watch Notting Hill. My husband will groan. Poor guy. I think he's about to have a chick flick weekend. And I have to watch Bridget Jones's Diary, since it's been mentioned a number of times.

Jeannie Watt said...

Beth--I know what you mean about getting to the end. Especially the more, shall we say, challenging books? And as to It's a Wonderful Life, isn't the scene where George and Mary deal with the phone call and the sexual tension is building between them the greatest? I just love it.

Debra Salonen said...

Pretty Woman. Not only does Edward have to overcome his fear of heights to climb the fire escape, you've got that great voice of the happy homeless guy telling you, " What's your dream? Everybody comes here; this is Hollywood, land of dreams. Some dreams come true, some don't; but keep on dreamin' - this is Hollywood.' (That was cut and pasted from a Google search, btw.)

Deb, who is still working on her new beginning ;-)

Beth Andrews said...

And as to It's a Wonderful Life, isn't the scene where George and Mary deal with the phone call and the sexual tension is building between them the greatest? I just love it.

Jeannie, that is one of my favorite scenes! Isn't it wonderful how they conveyed such intense sexual attraction? And when they finally kiss?? *sigh* Magic *g*

Jeannie Watt said...

Hi Emma, Karina and Laura--I see I'm not alone in my love of Jane Austin movies. I may have to have a Jane Austen weekend, too. Perhaps my husband would enjoy a weekend in his basement lair working on his photography.

Karina--I usually start off with a known ending, but sometimes things change so much that the original ending simply will not suffice. Then I am adrift. This happens so often, I believe it's part of my writing method.

Jeannie Watt said...

Good heavens--I just called Claudia "Emma". I have JA on the brain. My apologies!

Jeannie Watt said...

Beth--I think that is one o9f the most perfectly set up scenes ever. *sigh*

Jeannie Watt said...

Hey Deb--good luck on your beginning. I just got a beginning turned in and now I'm working on the end of another book. Victoria told me not to send in blank pages. Now that I'm aware of her Gallipoli tendencies, I won't. Those pages will be filled with words.

I'm going to have to watch Pretty Woman again, too. I also love My Fair Lady with Audry Hepburn. I was so shocked in high school when I found out that Pygmilion didn't have the same ending.

chey said...

I like believable happy endings.

Kaelee said...

Jeannie ~ I just narrowed it down to the books where the heroine in the story would have the most conflict in the end of the book. I love all your books but the Bishop brothers/Flynn sisters will forever hold a special place in my heart.

alinaduffer said...

Hi Jeannie! Ok you guys mentioned a bunch of great ones, Pretty Woman, Officer and a Gentleman, Love and Basketball. All awesome. One that may not seem perfect but I love is Titanic. Yeah I know Jack dies, but with his death Rose learns to really live and in the end she is back with him. I cry every time I watch it. I also love the end of Dirty Dancing.
"Nobody puts Baby in a corner" Gotta love it!

Have a great day ladies!!!

Helen Brenna said...

Hey Jeannie - fun to think about all these endings. I think one that hasn't been mentioned yet is the Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightly. Although I think I love the scene in the marsh even better than the actual ending.

Fun!

Summer said...

So many movie endings I love have already been mentioned, like Gone With The Wind, and It's A Wonderful Life. Another favorite is from the Winona Ryder version of Little Women, Jo runs after Friedrich when he mistakenly believes she married Laurie, and they end up kissing under his umbrella.

Jeannie Watt said...

Chey--Well said. Believability is a big part of a good ending. I've seen some movie endings where I thought, yes, happy now, but what for the first road bump.

Jeannie Watt said...

Of course I meant "wait for the first road bump." I have an itchy trigger finger--it fires messages before I'm done reading them.

Alina--Titanic was very powerful. I so wanted someone to save Jack, but knew it wasn't going to happen. But he did give Rose and incredible gift.

Helen--I love it when their hands clasp. *sigh* Kiera was the first Lizzie who was the right age, too.

Summer--I haven't seen that version of Little Women. I'll definitely have to check it out.

Jeannie Watt said...

Kaelee--Thank you. Those books came from the heart.

JV said...

One thing's for sure: Gone with the Wind certainly wasn't my favorite ending -- except as I modified it in my mind.

It's hard to pick a favorite ending. I might have to agree with An Officer and a Gentleman.

Christy Olesen said...

Thanks for the great ideas for movies to watch this weekend.
I love New In Town with Renée Zellweger and Harry Connick, Jr. Great happy ending and lots of fun.

marybelle said...

"Gone With the Wind" I still want Rhett to give a damn (movie ending). Each time I read the book or watch the movie I wish for a happier ending. Love it though!!

marypres@gmail.com

desere_steenberg said...

An Officer and A Gentleman all the way for me just adore that ending !!!!

Kay Stockham said...

Great post, Jeannie! I also struggle to get my endings right. I know how they should end (usually) but how do I wrap up all the emotion, love, fear, hope etc into one little neat scene?

I read through the posts and the whole time I've been struggling to come up with my most favorite movie ending. PS I LOVE YOU stands out, but only because it rips my heart out along the way. The ending isn't the most romantic, but the reader is left knowing the heroine--and her new hero--will find a way. There's no way they won't. So maybe that one, because the ending is left open enough that the watcher can write the ending in their mind as they want it?

Kay

Chelle Sandell said...

So many good ones listed! But I cry everytime watching Ever After and Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility. Gotta love Alan Rickman and root for him to get his HEA.

Jeannie Watt said...

JV--I didn't want to go see an Officer and a Gentleman when it first came out. The reviews were tepid, but the movie instantly sucked me in. I was prepared for an unhappy ending, so when he walked into that factory at the end...be still my heart.

Kirsten said...

I love the endng of Persuasion. Where the Captain buys his Anne her childhood house as their new home. He surprises her with it, they are really excited and that kiss.... fabulous.

Jeannie Watt said...

Hi Christy,

Waving to my fellow Nevadan! I must get a copy of Renée's filmography and watch every film. She's in a lot of must sees.

Jeannie Watt said...

Hi Desere--Actually, I think Rhett gave too much of a damn, which was why he had to leave--for his own sanity--and why he eventually wouild come back. That's what I'm going with anyway. It would be too sad to think that he really didn't give a damn, because indifference is more painful than hate.

Jeannie Watt said...

Did it again--that comment was aimed at Marybelle. It's 5:54 here and still waiting on the caffiene.

Desere (for real)--Again, Office and a Gentleman rocks!

Jeannie Watt said...

Kay--You do such a spectacular job of wrapping it all up, especially considering what you put your characters through. I am always so impressed with your endings.

Jeannie Watt said...

Chelle--I'm renting Emma this weekend. I adore Alan Rickman. He's a must see for me. (Hey look--two posts with the names right and no typos!)

Virginia said...

I love happy endings, you picked the best one An Officer and a Gentleman, Pretty Women also had a great ending and also love the ending of Dirty Dancing.

desere_steenberg said...

That is allright Jeannie , all though for a second I was truly lost ! But all I can say is I fully agree officer and a gentleman rocks (you took the words right out of my mouth )

Best
Desere

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