A “telling tales” format with guest authors Marty Chan, Jeff Szpirglas, and Frieda Wishinsky. Featuring an original story with an ambiguous ending; a famous twist from Ambrose Bierce; gorgeous last lines and satisfying summations; and a story prompt about a deus ex machina. PG. 50 minutes.
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Or try the Fright-Free version for young listeners (no spooky story):
Read the fright-free transcript of this episode:
[1:15] Story Intro
Have you ever met someone who seemed the total opposite of the rest of their family? Listen to this story about a tender-hearted boy whose parents love to hunt.
[1:40] Trigger warning: Violence against rodents. To share the podcast with very young listeners, try the “fright-free” version.
[2:30] Story: “Chewing, Chewing, Chewing”
When Gabriel’s parents told him they’d rented a cabin in the woods, he didn’t want to go….
[14:00] Commentary on Ambiguous Endings
[15:00] Copy the Technique: Ambiguous Endings
[16:00] Excerpt from “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce
Before there was M. Knight Shyamalan, there was Ambrose Bierce, whose short story, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” was like the “Sixth Sense” of 1890.
[18:30] Copy the Technique: Twist
End your story in a way that changes everything that came before.
[19:15] Excerpt from A Dog’s Life by Ann M. Martin
You will often hear the advice that the ending of a story should echo the beginning. The novel A Dog’s Life by Ann M. Martin begins and ends with a dog by the fire with her owner. In between the bookended scenes, we learn the life story that led here.
[20:30] Copy the technique: Echo the Beginning
Go back to the beginning of your story and find something to echo in your ending.
[21:45] Excerpt from Charlotte’s Web by E.B.White
Another tried-and-true way to make a satisfying ending is to sum things up. Charlotte’s Web has a poignant ending that acknowledges but softens the sadness of Wilbur’s journey and Charlotte’s death.
[23:30] Copy the technique: Sum Things Up
Acknowledge that the lives of your characters go on. End your story by telling us a tiny bit about the future, the whole span of your character’s life, in a very brief summing up.
Gorgeous Last Lines:
[25:50] Copy the technique: A gorgeous last line
Write a last line that is musical and beautiful and moves the reader by what it means and how it resonates with the whole story and by how it sounds.
[26:40] Jeff Szpirglas on discovering the ending
[28:10] Marty Chan on ending each book in a series
[30:50] Frieda Wishinsky on endings mirroring the beginning
[32:30] Interviews about sad endings
[33:05] Frieda Wishinsky on keeping hope alive
[35:15] Marty Chan on being true to the character
[36:45] Jeff Szpirglas on softening the horror with humour
[39:00] Advice for young writers on how to end a story
[39:10] Jeff Szpirglas on enjoying the discovery
[40:25] Frieda Wishinsky on outlining the story
[41:50] Marty Chan on telling your story out loud
[43:10] Story Prompt: “Not Dead Yet”
Life sometimes sends you a lifesaver.
[48:10] Thanks and coming up on the podcast
If you need more help ending your stories, tune in next week for Episode 7.5 of Cabin Tales, to hear guest authors Lena Coakley, Lisa Dalrymple, Karen Bass, Ishta Mercurio, and Tim Wynne-Jones share their advice.
[48:50] Scary Movie Quote
“That’s all there is. There isn’t any more.”
Thanks for listening.
Host: Catherine Austen writes books for children, short stories for adults, and reports for corporate clients. Visit her at www.catherineausten.com.
Marty Chan writes books for kids, plays for adults, and tweets for fun. He’s best known for Mystery of the Graffiti Ghoul, which won the 2007 Diamond Willow Award. His newest book, Haunted Hospital, launched October 29th. He works and lives in Edmonton with his wife Michelle and their cat Buddy. Find him online at MartyChan.com, on Twitter @Marty_Chan; on YouTube MartyChanAuthor; on Instagram @MartyChanWriter; and on Facebook @MartyChanAuthor.
Jeff Szpirglas is the author of over 20 books for young readers, both fiction and nonfiction, including entries for Scholastic’s “Countdown To Danger” series and Orca’s “Tales From Beyond the Brain.” He has co-authored two books about film soundtracks, and is a regular contributor to the award-winning horror magazine Rue Morgue. Jeff has worked at CTV and he was an editor at Chirp, chickaDEE, and Owl Magazines. These days, he spends his non-writing time as a full-time parent and full-time classroom teacher (and part-time werewolf). Visit him online at jeffszpirglas.com and find him on Twitter @jeffszpirglas or on Facebook.
Frieda Wishinsky has written over 70 picture books, chapter books, novels and non-fiction books. Picture book biographies are one of her favourite genres. She’s written biographies about Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Frederick Law Olmsted and most recently, Emily Roebling (How Emily Saved the Bridge). Frieda loves sharing the writing process. Find her online at https://friedawishinsky.com.