Here in the Lair, we often talk about the beginning of books and movies. How they grab us and suck us in, keep us turning pages or on the edges of our seats, wanting to know what's going to happen next.
The Bourne Identity was one of these books for me. I couldn't read it fast enough. It also sucked me into Robert Ludlum's world of espionage and suspense. After reading the Bourne Identity, I raided my local bookstore and read his whole back list and following books, each one more page-turning than the last. (I also discovered for my own sanity, it was best to not read more than two of his books in a weekend or I'd think my phone was tapped and people were chasing me!) While the movie was barely recognizable as the original book, Matt Damon's portrayal of Jason Bourne fit my mental image of how the character would look and act.
Another book where the beginning drew me in from page one was Sherrilyn Kenyon's Night Pleasures. It might surprise y'all, but I'm not really into vampire love stories. What grabbed me was the heroine in peril waking up to find herself chained to this big imposing man, who acts like a vampire, you know all I'll-die-if-I'm-out-in-the-sun, has fangs and appears to be imortal, but he wasn't a vampire. Instead he was a hunter, a Dark Hunter, one she'll need to keep her safe. Add to that Kenyon's unique premise that vampires were actually cursed children of the Greek god, Apollo and I was hooked! Involving the Greek mythology and really BIG men, yep, couldn't turn the pages fast enough!
For movies, Speed, was the same for me. Suck me in, make want to know what's happening to these courageous bomb experts. Who wants to blow them up, etc. Add a ticking clock er bus and Sandra Bullock? Yep, I'm staying through to the end. Another movie for me was Pirates of the Carribean. How could you not love a movie with that kind of fantasy beginning of pirates and Black Jack Sparrow? It made you root for the characters from the start all the way to the end. (ah, but we're not at the end yet!)
Sometimes, in the Lair, we talk about the characters, themselves. Those we loved from the moment they stepped onto the pages or onto the big screen. Those that make us wish we were the heroine or hero, falling in love, kicking butt, or solving the mystery. Okay, in the lair we mostly talk about the sexy heroes, but let me give you some of my favorites of both sexes.
Kate and Luc from French Kiss are two of my favorite movie characters. At the beginning of the movie there's the neurotic romantic who despite her fear of flying bravely climbs aboard a plane bound across the Atlantic to get her true love. Except, we find out her true love is nothing but a soundrel, while the scoundrel, Luc--good hearted jewel thief who wants to buy a vinyeard near his home, seated next to her, irritating the snot out of her all the way to France, well, I'd hate to give away the ending, so let's just say he's hero worthy.
Rhett and Scarlet. From her first utterance of fiddle-dee-dee, she didn't come across as a kind, loving heroine. No, she wasn't loveable, but she was strong. Her world and family was changing, and only the strong were going to survive. THAT is what he loved about her. And him? Was he a Southern gentleman? Uh, no. A Privateer. A man who would make a profit from the war, eventually takes a side and joins the war, but his love of her made him loveable. (We'll talk about their ending later.)
Gabriel and Johanna from Julie Garwood's Saving Grace (yeah, like y'all didn't see this one coming). If you haven't taken the time in the past 3 years to read this book, as much as I've raved about it, I'm about to spoil the beginning for you. The heroine is informed her husband has been killed and she rushes to the chapel.
Not to pray for his soul, but to thank God. Now, don't you want to know more?
The hero is a bastard, literally. His father and his clan disowned him, until the time came for someone to lead the father's clan after his death. In the meantime, the hero has formed his own clan with ragtag outcasts from other clans. So what's he supposed to do? He tried to lead both clans side by side, because that's what an honorable man does. Then an Englishman brings his half sister for the hero to marry, to keep her out of the reach of the king of England. He marries her without question. She agrees to the marriage only after she hears his name, Gabriel, the patron saint and protector of women and children.
Sigh...You really have to read this book!
So, what haven't we talked about when it comes to books?
Yep, the beginning may hook you or your reader or your editor, but it's the ending that sells the next book. At least that's a saying heard often repeated from one RWA member to another.
We all know the ending of Gone With The Wind. Rhett storms out, swearing, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." Scarlett watches him disappear into the mist and says, "Tara! Home. I'll go home. And I'll think of some way to get him back. After all... tomorrow is another day." It may not be the HEA we all wanted, but the prospect of a future is there in her determination and I'd like to think she finally learned what love truly is about and will win back her man.
In French Kiss, Kate has saved Luc's bacon and is once again aboard a plane to fly home. Luc has learned how she tricked him, but knows she did it out of love. He slips into the seat next to her and says, "I want you..." She says, "You want me?" and he says, with love and unshed tears in his eyes, "I want you, that is all." Sigh. That is a HEA I could go for every time.
At the end of the Bourne Identity, (the book version), Jason learns the truth about who he is and how he came to be a trained assassin. He cleans out Treadstone's bad members and gets the girl. And it made every page turning scene worthwhile.
I want endings that make me sigh. Make me know my journey with the characters has been worth my effort. I want the mystery solved, the bad guys dead or in prison, the HEA for my heros and heroines, or at least the promise of a HEA.
So, endings are important. They are so important to me, I even write THE END when I finish a book. Another writer acquaintance asked me why? I said, why not? It's an accomplishment. The story has been told, it may need tweaking or editing, but the ending has been written.
And a few weeks ago I posted the last chapter of REFUGE on my online blogsite, http://www.blogger.com/www.rockymountainromance.blogspot.com. Everytime I've read it, I get tears in my eyes and that sense of Ahhhhhhhhh. I hope my readers did, too. If you haven't read it, take a chance, but go to the sidebar and start at the beginning. I'd love to hear if the HEA worked for you!
So, tell me, what books or movies gave you that Ahhhhhhhh moment? Which ones made you cry or laugh? Which ones did you hate?