A student of mine is looking at scene endings, and analyzing a favorite book using Jack Bickham's scene ending answers. The question is: Did the scene protagonist attain the scene goal?
No (didn't get the goal)
Yes, but (got the goal, but something else happened too)
No, and furthermore (something even worse happened)
No, of course, you don't have to do this, and it's probably not right for every scene, but it's a good technique to have in your writing toolbox. Now the question I have is-- can you increase the pacing, the thrill, the intensity of the story by using one of those endings more than the others?
For example, what would the effect of a lot of scenes ending "no, and furthermore?" Things would be getting constantly worse, but more than that, every time that happened would be a twist. Joanie's scene goal is returning the diamond bracelet her kleptomaniac mother stole from the jewelry store. She just wants to slip it back into the display case before it's discovered missing. Does she get her goal? No, and furthermore, she stumbles and falls into the display case, and it sets of the alarm, and the off-duty cop doing security is right there and arrests her with the necklace still clutched in her hand. No, she doesn't get the goal, and furthermore, she ends up in jail!
Okay, you can see how a series of "no and furthermores" like that would keep the reader on constant edge, waiting for the next disaster. This would be useful in a thriller or a comedy, in the middle of the story particularly (rising action section). However, I think more than a few of these would decrease the reader identification with the character. Why? Well, pretty soon the reader will be thinking, "No, don't go after that goal. It'll only end up badly." And that will separate the reader a bit, as she will know more than the character, perhaps? Recognize a pattern maybe?
I can see the "yes, but" ending being useful for romance, as it would allow her to get her goal but eventually realize the "but"-- "But it's not really what you want, is it."
Anyway, what do you all think? If you want to increase the pace or intensify the stakes, can the Bickham scene endings help?