The Great Apology/Summation/Denouement…

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That’s where I am right now in the writing process. I love a cast of 1,000 characters, multiple sub-plots, unrelated stories that tie up in the end. The denouement!

The term, denouement, comes from French,18th century, outcome, but some define it as “un-knot”. Seems fitting.

And that’s what I’ve got here, a whole bunch of seemingly unrelated threads, all knotted together, but now it’s my job to show how all of these threads come out of the knot on the other side in a commonsensical communion with one another.

Nowhere is the denouement more pristine than in Louis Sachar’s HOLES. I bow to the maestro! Three tales – the arrest and punishment of a kid wrongly accused, an historical romance between star-crossed lovers, Sam the Onion Picker, and Kate Barlow, school teacher turned outlaw, and the third sub-plot of Stanley Yelnats’s Dirty-Rotten-Pig-Stealin’-Great-Great-Grandfather. How does one tie those three stories with such beautiful intricacy? He does it. Beautifully.

HOLES, by Louis Sachar. Brilliant denouement.

In mystery, especially who-dunnits, it is referred to as the summation – that scene in which Hercule Poirot identifies each character, their flaws (to their great embarrassment) then finally identifies the killer(s). In MONK, it’s when he explains to the audience HOW they dunnit. There’s usually an audience in the book as well as the audience reading or viewing the story.

MONK, starring Tony Shalhoub.

That audience sweetens the pot, especially, in romance, there’s the “big apology”. This usually follows the BBM (big black moment) when the hero/heroine makes some sacrifice of their core goal for the sake of the object of their limerence. In NOTTING HILL, !!!!Spoiler alert!!!! it’s the scene in a crowded room full of reporters when Hugh Grant risks humiliation to win back Julia Roberts. For Julia Roberts, the BBM was asking Hugh Grant to be her boyfriend, and Hugh rejecting her offer. The apology scene was Hugh Grant’s. (Only fair, considering it’s his story.)

I think I’ve figured out how I can have my cake and eat it too, i.e., how I can incorporate both a summation and a “big apology” scene. Maybe.

I’m off to do some more untangling.

Scout, the muse, untangling my knots.

In the meantime, make some art. Read a book! And if you’re looking for a fabulous book with a killer denouement, check out Gordon Korman’s SCHOOLED. It’s YA, but any adult will enjoy that ending.

SCHOOLED, by Gordon Korman.



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