Great endings and all those others

Today I read a blog post from a fellow Hatracker. MaryAnn talks about how story endings need to reach the reader/viewer’s expectations, otherwise the whole thing falls apart. While I was writing a reply to her post I got into my rant mode and since I don’t hate her that much I’ve decided I will dump this in my own blog instead.

I stopped watching Lost for the same reason I stopped watching the X Files: a lot of promises and too little realization of those promises (for those same reasons I don’t like politics). When it comes to character vs plot, I’m usually a character man myself but Lost had a beginning that clearly promised a mystery to solve. That was what I expected of this show. The character development was a great part of it but it wasn’t why I watched the series; I wanted to see if they are indeed lost in Jurassic Park or not.

Instead of a mystery to be solved, all I got was more twists and eventually I figured out that there’s too much smoke and lightning for it to end in an interesting way. So I saved me some time and went to watch Battlestar Galactica instead.

Speaking of endings and speaking of Battlestar Galactica, there’s another topic waiting to be violated. Sure, it was a nice poetic ending but completely unrealistic. Don’t tell me that people who use make-up, wear fancy dresses and are used of pushing buttons all their lives will voluntarily choose to live in the wilderness, wearing animal skins and reproduce with the monkey people they found on some alien planet. Was that why we fought for? I’m not sure what ending would be more satisfying but “God did it” really wouldn’t be what I would go for.

That said, yes, endings do need a lot of work to be good. That’s why I usually come up with an ending early so all the twists I invent after are in sync with the ending. Sometimes I will even plot the story backwards, from the ending to a beginning, always looking for the reason something happens, not the consequence.

And MaryAnn, don’t try to find a perfect ending. Find a suitable one and get to work on the next story. Trust me, we’ve all been there.

2 thoughts on “Great endings and all those others

  1. I think the best ending is an ending that ties all loose ends in a satisfying way. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t have to make the reader shed tears of joy or happiness, it just needs to suit the story. There’s no way to write an ending that will satisfy every person out there, so the writer might as well satisfy themselves first.

  2. Great post, Martin.

    I know I need to stop obsessing about the perfect ending. It’s hard for me. I’m a little bit of a perfectionist. I think you were wise to give up on Lost. You were right, there was no way they could resolve everything. It worked for me because I was more interested in the characters.

    I liked Battlestar Galactica, but that ending didn’t work as well for me as Lost did. Go figure.

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