The beginning is the most important part of your book.
Wait. No. The middle is because no one will read the whole book if the middle isn’t great.
But wait. What about the ending? If readers don’t like the ending they might never read another book written by you and they’ll write up bad reviews.
Okay. They’re all important.
Early on, clues were planted. Relationships developed. Skills learned. Emotional truths realized. And they all come to a head in the final quarter of the book. Act III.
Break into III (External story and the internal story combine for the solution. Go Hiccup! Go Hiccup! Yay!)
While Hiccup experiences his dark moment, Astrid approaches Hiccup after he watches his dad sail off to kill all the dragons.
Hiccup has the answers. They are there. Deep inside. But it takes Astrid to lead Hiccup to the answer. Time to be the hero. See, there is a reason for that B Story or subplot.
Finale (Events leading up to and including the climax) (The final countdown)
According to Blake Snyder, here is what must happen:
- Dispatching of the bad guys first and then the mastermind.
- A new society is born. The world must be changed for the biggest impact.
- And, of course, this all must happen with plenty of emotion.
Instead of running through these events, I’m going to list the parts from the movie’s ending that touched my heart. You’ll have to watch the movie for the details.
- Hiccup banding together with his friends. (complete change)
- Hiccup and his friends flying through the air around the monster dragon – and the look on Hiccup’s dad’s face! (complete awesomeness)
- Hiccup tries, but it’s his dad that saves Toothless and apologizes! (okay, I cried.)
- Astrid almost dying and Toothless picking her up just in time. (Mirrored action from the B Story.)
- Hiccup and Toothless provoking the big dragon to fly and then leading him up into the sky away from the Vikings.
- They take the big guy down, but Toothless’s tail is on fire and they fall into the flames bellowing beneath them.
- When the Chief thinks Hiccup is dead. (So sad and moving. Boo hoo)
- Toothless raises his wing to show that he protected Hiccup from the flames.
- The Chief touches Toothless in a loving exchange. (complete change, very moving)
Seriously? The play by play of the climax was complete, satisfying and emotional. Everything came full circle, which leads us too…
The final Image (Opposite of the opening image. Full circle. World changes.)
Time has passed. Hiccup wakes up and puts one foot on the floor. Literally. He lost a foot in the fight and now has a peg leg. Kind of like Toothless. Then he goes outside.
Dragons are in the village, again! Oh no! But wait. They are not attacking. All the Viking men are now training and riding dragons. Hiccup changed a community. He changed the way the Chief thought. He changed a culture. All because he took risks and stood up for what he thought was right. Pretty cool.
Hiccup and the Chief are getting along. And…
Astrid gives him a kiss because she like who he is. Also pretty cool.
Any books you’ve read that you’ve loved the ending to – even if it’s not a happy ending?
This was a great educational series, Laura. It’s going up on Cool Links next week. Hmmm. Wonder why I have a craving to watch the movie again. 😉
Thanks Stina! I actually learned a lot through studying this movie. I’m going to cover some of it on Monday.
Love this series, Laura. I’ve found that working through plots of movies and books is a great way to educate yourself and learn more about the structure of story.
Your break-downs have been awesome.
Ted Dekker’s, “Showdown” has an ending that has stuck with me for a while. The rest of the book was a bit slow for me, but the way he tied it all together at the end was enough for me to want to re-read it to see what I lazily passed over.
Okay. I HAVE to see this movie now!
I liked the end of the Hunger Games Trilogy and won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read it, but there were several story arcs that would around full circle in a way I liked.
Yeah, you pretty much have to nail everything, don’t you? Unless your name is Dan Brown and already have a huge loyal fan base.
Steven – Thanks. I don’t often break down movies, usually books. But movies can’t get away with not following structure, so they sometimes have better structure than books.
Lydia – When I absolutely love a book, if I look closely, it does have great structure, along with great voice, premise and plot.
Angela – Yeah, pretty much. 🙂
Thanks for sharing this story structure info. It’s been helpful.
Loved this series of plot busters. I’m looking forward to trying and apply them in my book.
Great analysis of How to Train your Dragon! At least the end. I’ll have to go back and read the first parts. It’s amazing what seeing a breakdown of a book can do to help you understand how it’s written–and how to write. Well done, Laura!
I loved this movie! It has such a satisfying plot. Neat to see how you broke it down here, I read all three posts. And I’m definitely going have to get that Save the Cat book.
I’m trying to analyze books more (and movies) It takes work (I tend to just focus on the first chapter) but it’s very rewarding.
Margo – It does take work, but it is the one thing that has helped me the most!
Carolina – Thanks! I watched your video today – pretty awesome!
Patti – Thanks! I’ll probably do some more!
Susan – It’s been very helpful for me, esp. before revisions.
Laura – You’ve got to watch it!
Thank you so much for this series, Laura. They’re incredibly helpful!
I admit the ending for THE HUNGER GAMES stuck with me for a while, especially because it’s so bittersweet. Katniss won the Game, but lost Petaa’s friendship at the end of the first book.
This movie really hit it on all levels for me (I saw it three times – a new record for a non-star-wars-movie). I’m so glad you used it as your model for this analysis, and I’m inspired to really buckle down and analyze my plotting some more.
Thanks for a great series!
Susan – the cool thing is that someone connected with Blake Snyder commented on my first post – Blake helped out with the movie before he died. No wonder it had such excellent structure and hit all his points. 🙂
@Laura WOW! That is so COOL! And fascinating, how you can detect the genius at work, even when you don’t know that’s who is behind it.
I’m constantly amazed when I talk about someone/thing on my blog and someone related to that finds the post and comments! The world truly is getting smaller and smaller (I had someone from NASA comment on my NASA post just this week!)
Great advice! I still haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’m looking forward to it 🙂
Laura–excellent information (as usual)! I definitely have to look at the three act structure more closely. Thanks for the insight.
I loved that movie…I admit, I cried a couple times, too. At the end, naturally, but also in the middle when his dragon was hurt and getting picked on.
(the one animated movie that made me SOB…in the BEGINNING, like the first 5-10 minutes, was Up. OMG. It devastated me so much I almost couldn’t keep watching it.)
I just bought Save the Cat. It’s sitting on my desk staring at me. I’ll get to it. Thanks for inspiring me to crack the spine with this post. 🙂
Have a wonderful rest of your weekend, Laura.
I think Gina Holmes did a great job with “Crossing Oceans.” Check it out!
It’s funny how some movies trigger our writer’s brain. Great series, Laura.
Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse
Oh that endingIt was so good though. I think it was realistic to have Hiccup lose part of his foot because after a battle like that, he really should’ve been killed. But thanks for Toothless cuddling him in his arms and legs!
“Gone with the Wind” has such a good ending despite the fact they don’t end up together. “The Time-Traveler’s Wife” is another one with an unexpected ending that worked well for the novel.
I like happy endings, but I’m okay with a bittersweet end (like in Dragon) if it’s consistent with the story.