By Danny Gessner
Since this is my first blog on Buzzsaw, I thought Beginnings would be a good topic to start with. What makes a beginning of anything so good? Is it the excitement of starting new, or is it more complex?
Think of great works of literature. Their beginnings are mixed things at best. For example, Dickens’ classic A Tale of Two Cities begins with probably the most recognized and dramatic opening line ever: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” This beautiful line has remained in culture forever, despite the rest of the work being incredibly boring. There’s not an ounce of humor in the book and after the first line, you’d probably be better off putting down the book because the next 411 pages are not worth your time. So Dickens was brilliant for captivating his audience with this remarkable line, without putting nearly as much effort into the remainder of the work.
Other beginnings may belie the true nature of what follows them. Take the 2010 Tampa Bay Rays. By the end of April they were leading their incredibly competitive division in wins by a game and a half, being able to beat up the Bronx Bombers and silence the Sox. They proceeded to win 96 games in the course of the season, narrowly beating the bewildered Yankees to win the division and the top seed in the American League. Then what happened in the playoffs? Well they flopped in five games against the Rangers (then sporting one trendy Clifton Lee) and landed themselves the quickest exit ever for the most exciting team to watch through their first 162 games.
Other beginnings may be heralded and praised, and still be far too awesome to put into words. The opening scene from the film Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: simply magnificent. The opening bank robbery in The Dark Knight: brilliant. The Big Bang event that started the universe: almost nearly epic as the other two. All of these beginnings are impressive things that lead to bigger and better finishes.
Not all beginnings are wonderful. Some beginnings are so terrible that it pains one’s eyes to witness them. For example, ever seen The Miracle of Life? YUCK! No one comes into this world looking remotely decent. And we all have to be pried out of our mothers through a rather frightening orifice. However, life is a decent affair, so it’s sometimes worth it.
In my honest opinion, beginnings are messy. No one likes pilot episodes; they’d rather watch the season finale. Beginnings often don’t know what they’re talking about and wind up being rather long-winded and boring. Their stupid jokes can go right over everyone’s head. In truth, most authors don’t even like beginnings. Wrote Neil Gaiman in his graphic novel The Sandman “Can’t say I’ve ever been too fond of beginnings, myself. Messy little things. Give me a good ending any time. You know where you are with an ending.”
I don’t think endings are any better personally. But a good ending is much more rewarding than a good beginning. A good beginning can mean almost anything is about to come. But a good ending leaves the reader/viewer/casual observer demanding more. A good ending makes the reader loathe the author, pursue them endlessly, ask far too many questions at fan conventions.
And so dear readers, if you’ve stuck with me this far, I hope that this messy beginning will be overshadowed by my continued writing in the coming weeks. And hopefully I can exit with a much better ending than The Sopranos. Because really, just who does David Chase think he is, cutting his story off in mid-sentence. If you ask me–