23 hours ago
Friday, July 9, 2010
Literary Devices Part 4: The O. Henry Ending
I was told recently that I had an O. Henry ending in my last WIP. It's actually for a subplot element that ends in a twist, rather than the main plot, but I didn't realize I'd pulled an O. Henry.
O. Henry was the pseudonym for writer William Sydney Porter (1862-1910). He wrote several stories that became famous for their clever twist endings. Here's a classic one, which has been redone in various ways over the years:
"The Gift of the Magi" is about a destitute couple who desperately want to buy each other Christmas gifts. Unbeknownst to Jim, Della sells her most valuable possession, her beautiful hair, in order to buy a platinum fob chain for Jim's watch; while unbeknownst to Della, Jim sells his own most valuable possession, his watch, to buy jeweled combs for Della's hair. (from Wikipedia)
O. Henry type of twist ending seems to work well in short stories, but I can't seem to think of ones in fiction.
Any books with twist endings of the O.Henry type that you like? Or do twist endings leave a bad taste in your mouth?