Plot & Structure Exercise 20: Many Doors, Choose the Best

In the last exercise, the task was to write out an entire ending. I didn’t feel it came out of me right. So I am extra excited about today’s exercise. Mr Bell asks us to come up with alternative endings. A list of ten. Then choose two or three of the most promising ones, and write out a summary (250 words max). If one sounds better than the original, use it. Keep the old one though, as a twist, or if you keep the old one, save the new ones as possible twists.


We can mix and match, no? At least analyze at this point. (I love how writing plot involves this process of thinking up multiple scenarios and choosing the best one; best pulling things out my butt and going with the first thing that plops out!) It feels like all is possible. (So glad I’m writing my next book this way. It’s going to ROCK! And people will love it.) Ok, ok, enough parenthesis. Let’s start!


. . .

(One we have now)

0. After finding Pilar in bed with another man, Juan chases Sam to the airport, where they go on another adventure.


(Alternative endings)

  1. Juan decides to make his marriage work, letting Sam, and his past, go.
  2. Sam doesn’t confess his love for his friend, but instead breaks down and misses his flight.
  3. Sam doesn’t go on an adventure, makes Juan get to him for nothing.
  4. Juan accepts Sam’s confession of love, admitting he is gay too, always has been.
  5. Pilar isn’t in bed with another man, but has disappeared, so Juan decides to find her.
  6. Juan doesn’t chase his friend to the airport, doesn’t stay with his wife, but goes to the university library where he meets his student lover.
  7. Pilar is in bed with another man, Juan does try to go to the airport, but she stops him from leaving when says she is pregnant.
  8. Anais never died, but disappeared, and Juan meets Sam at the airport so they can find her.
  9. Pilar isn’t home, Sam leaves, and Juan stays to sulk alone in his big empty home.
  10. Somebody kills themselves, either Pilar, Sam, or Juan.


. . .


1. After an entire night of staying up to recount their last story together, Sam muscles up the courage to tell his friend the real reason why he is there. He loves him, and only got with Anais because he knew it would hurt Juan. Juan confesses he never loved Anais, and that it was all a parade to make his friend feel guilty. But now that she is dead, and there is no going back fifteen years of misunderstanding, Sam gets up, tries to kiss his friend, but is rejected. He leaves briskly, awkward, bumping into things, and telling him he’s going to the airport now, goodbye. As he hears the sound of screeching tires, Juan imagines going up and chasing him to the airport. There are flights to Singapore, they could do it all over again, from the beginning. But alas, this was real life, and, though Sam may have lost his wife, Juan still had his. She was a tramp, a frustrated model, and a horse. But at least she is alive, thinks Juan. He walks up to their bedroom, where he finds her snoring, peacefully. He wakes her, to tell her, let’s go somewhere new.


5. Sam confesses his love. There’s a blow up. Sam hangs on to the jam of the front door, one foot out, and invites Juan on a trip to New York, telling him he has enough for an extra ticket. Juan shakes his head, and sees his long lost friend disappear forever. Just like his wife had done at the start of the night. He sulks on his leather sofa, debating whether to chase after his friend, his past, but it’s too late. He doesn’t want to give the wrong idea. Where is my wife? He gets into his car, and pulls out the note she has left him, saying she’ll be staying at her mom’s in Miami. She is probably there right now, explaining things to her mother over breakfast, or not, if the mother knew all along. Juan gets into his car, and decides to find her. To bring her back. No matter what.


10. Sam and Juan finish recounting their last story together. The sun is rising. It’s been an entire night together of beer and nostalgia. Sam says he should probably go up, ironically, to his wife who must be waiting for him. Juan jokes that she’s probably with someone right now. Then apologizes to Sam for everything, the loss of love, ruining things between them. Sam looks down at his feet and confesses the real reason he showed up. He loves Juan, always has. When a kiss fails, Sam breaks down. He is planning on killing himself, since he feels he has nothing left. Juan tries to tell him about his career, his money, his apartment, and even their friendship, isn’t that worth something? Sam cheers up for a moment. Stumbles to the restroom. And disappears, for a while. Juan waits, waits, until he hears a crash inside the restroom. He bursts in, and finds Sam with his wrists cut open, and his forehead full of shards of mirror. As he knees down, he holds his friend up, leaning in to hear some last words. But all that comes out is the gurgling of blood. It’s everywhere, and Sam turns pale white, before giving up the ghost. Juan can’t cry, doesn’t stay, and walks up stairs, drenched his friend. Pilar isn’t in bed. But a note instead.

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