1. A play changed the ending of Annie like that? Man, what a dud! I used to enjoy sad endings. Then my life began to have lots of tragedy in it, and I learned to prefer happy endings.
    My favorite quote about tragedy (and the attitude of hopelessness) is from Portal 2, after the evil computer builds up your hopes and then dashes them. “Just think about it–tragedy equals comedy plus time. So it’s actually pretty funny when you do the math.”
    In Lord of the Rings, there’s a really interesting progression that nobody ever seems to talk about. It’s the pattern of growing darkness and corresponding growing light. The Old Forest is balanced by Bombadil, who is one-upped by the barrows, who is one-upped by Bombadil again, who is one-upped by the creepy stuff at the Prancing Pony, which is one-upped by Aragorn’s reveal, which is one-upped by Weathertop, which is one-upped by Rivendell, and on it goes. At the end, the immense darkness of the hopeless final battle is trumped by the destruction of the Ring and the rejoicing afterward.
    I’ve seen a lot of books try to follow this, but I don’t think they’d really identified the pattern, so they didn’t get it exactly right.
    (In a story one time, I had a villain who stayed behind the scenes like Sauron, and he wound up being the most TERRIFYING villain I’ve ever written. I know that keeping the villain hidden is frowned upon in modern books, but man, it works as a literary device. Nothing is more horrifying than the evil you can’t see.)

    • I hadn’t noticed the progression of good and evil in Lord of the Rings, but now that you mention it – yes, I can see it.
      The fact that Sauron was unseen was one of the keys to his power as a character. Sauron was an impersonal, but relentless and all-pervading evil – a malignant force of nature. To show him in the narrative would have ruined that.
      The production of Annie was about ten years ago; there’s more information here, if you’re interested. It didn’t last long. Martin Charnin, Annie‘s creator, heard about the new ending and attended a performance. After that, he met with the theater company’s executives and convinced them that Annie still in the orphanage was “not true to the spirit of the show”.

  2. Beautiful thoughts, Shannon.  Christmas drowns me in wonderment!  Every. Single. Year.  🙂
    Like you, I have no patience with books that have no sense of wonder, and only darkness.  I’m the same way with movies, too.  They have to be beautiful and invite amazement.  Grit has some purpose in cinematography, but there has to be beauty to balance it out.  I was just thinking about that last night while my husband and I watched “Thor”.  That movie has a lot of beauty in it!

  3. Great post, Shannon, especially with the prevailing winds in the Christian writing community pushing “realism.” The fact is, realism, if it’s God’s realism, is hopeful. Dark also, but not without hope.  Joy, too, and wonder. Yes, those are excellent qualities to include in our fiction.


    • I’ve also noticed people urging “realism” – which always seems to mean something unpleasant: gore, tragedy, swearing, immoral sex. There are two ideas implicit in this. One, that more realistic art is better art – an interesting idea, though not one I have considered enough to debate. I wonder what such people think of Picasso?
      The second, more serious idea is that being realistic means being dark. I don’t think this is really true; I also think some people discount too quickly the danger that dark art can sometimes make the world even darker than it already is.

  4. […] Shannon McDermott who is up for this month’s CSFF Award), wrote an inspiring post entitled “The Echoes of Christmas” in which she discusses what a story would look like if it were written as an expression of […]

  5. Galadriel says:

    That was one of my  issues with Russell T. Davies’ Christmas specials for Doctor Who. With the exception of Christmas Invasion, they all end with the Doctor alone, depressed and wandering off again. I didn’t like it–it seemed antithetical to the meaning of Christmas.

  6. e-mail says:

    Good day, i do believe i always saw a person been to my web site and so i stumbled on rewind the particular choose? . I’m just planning to in finding issues to boost my website! I guess it’s ample to apply a few of your mind!

What do you think?