Writing Lessons from "A Christmas Carol": Creating an Imperfect Ending

Monday, December 28, 2015

I hate saccharine endings. I also hate ones that seem unrealistic or tie up the loose ends too perfectly. Yes, miracles do happen, and it can be okay to use one if it is set up correctly. But life isn’t perfect, and no story should end by pretending it is. Even a good love story ends with the lovers accepting each other’s faults rather than making them go away.

A Christmas Carol shows me how to satisfy with an imperfect ending.

In one sense, the story does end with a miracle, because that is what the change in Scrooge is. And we are all happy that the shadows of the future could be changed and Tiny Tim did not die. But he was still lame. God does not choose to cure every illness or disability in this life, and having Him do so here would have been saccharine instead of satisfying.

The Christmas season doesn’t end on December 25th, and the close of Dickens’ story is my wish for you in 2016 and beyond:

[I]t was always said of [Scrooge], that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!

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