11
Aug
14

Ending a Story (Book or Movie); Which Is Better?

Have you ever finished reading a book or seeing a movie and wrinkled your brow when some aspect wasn’t resolved as thoroughly as you would have liked?

Some might say there’s a writing strategy in this. It leaves the door open for a sequel. If you become invested in the characters you just met, surely you’ll buy into another “peep show” to see them, again. But, what if there is no sequel? Or, what if the sequel simply brushes the previous unfinished details under a rug? How cruel is that?

Which is better?

~Ending a story/movie with bits and pieces unresolved in hopes of resolving them in the next installment?

If this works, you–as the creator/s–can keep leaving things unfinished until you have to stop writing for whatever reason. You–as a viewer/reader–can’t complain much about dissatisfaction because there’s a fair chance another chapter will come along and answer your nagging questions.

OR

~Ending a story/movie with every potential loose end tied up so the whole is as satisfying as it will get on its own regardless of any possible sequel/s?

This version (in movies) can be further enhanced (to my delight) with a little scene after the credits which “hooks” the viewer with hope for a sequel, adds to character appeal (like an encore at a concert/play) or (if you start rolling the credits with one little/big question left unanswered) fills in the gap to complete the story. If there are more books/films, you–as a viewer/reader–may pursue them, provided you enjoyed the (or one of the) previous installment/s. It’s likely you’ll find some more appealing than others.

—————

[Some might say I impacted your decision with my previous choice of words.]

Would you like my lengthy opinion and a little information about myself? Then, by all means, carry on.

I personally prefer the latter though I am tempted to try the former. I like to think–in the few pieces I’ve completed and in just about anything I write–my purposes for the plot and characters (and any other storytelling aspect that can provoke thought “outside the box”) have been satisfied.

When I think of police shows on TV and the few mysteries I’ve read, I suppose misdirection and empty interviews are part of the chase. But–and maybe this is why I struggle with reading/writing them–I get a little headache from “wasting” time (and paper/resources) on matters that won’t impact the ending or have closure on their own. So, if I do include some (initially) fruitless search/interview–if I pursue a suspect with a criminal record only to find they are not tied to the present case–I’d like to follow up with some scene or mention of the party involved either carrying on with life or reconnecting with the “detective” (either to express thanks or to seek revenge/retaliation for wasting their time). [There’s not much I can do/add if a location is void of clues/evidence.]

Sometimes, I am so eager to reveal information that I cut a story short and wonder if there was any point in writing. There’s a plot. And, I’m sure more happens with and around the character/s. But, I only see the “big reveal.” Who wants to read a three-page-or-less story which basically amounts to a character profile? In an effort to counter this dismay, I have tried adding “filler” only to feel guilty of wasting paper/reading time. In a different light, it might look like a “slice of life,” a moment in time with the character/s intended to improve viewers’/readers’ perspective of personality. Hopefully, you’ll feel as if the characters are sharing space with you. And, if you like them, you’ll want them to be your friends. But, the tendency with that filler is to get carried away with dialogue that has no impact on the direction of the story. It’s just talk, the busy-ness some of us experience in our heads when we wake from our slumber. If it’s not talk, it’s action that feels like a dance thrown in to change the present mood without any significant impact on the main story’s direction. It’s like pausing from chasing someone to study a butterfly. I’m not sure what fruit the little branch should produce, but I don’t like dead ends (unless I am crafting a pick-a-path in which a few are expected where decisions are misguided/impulsive).

Other times, I get a little carried away with lacing/weaving little tidbits of information into my writing which, hopefully, will make the reader pause and think. Some are references to something I’ve heard, read or seen (better known as “pop culture references”). The rest are innocent-looking pieces of a bigger puzzle/disguised keys to locks found elsewhere. I’ve been forced to write pick-a-paths because of this (and because of my other struggles with making key decisions sans “co-writer” input, including sensible/clever character names). And, while I stash these “easter eggs” in various corners of a fairly simple maze–turning the simple into something fairly more complex–a part of me wishes to embellish details with theatrical flourishes and subplots until what was supposed to be a light-weight paperback suddenly feels a bit thick and heavy. Either I write these massive pick-a-path books and dismiss the potentially unnecessary cost/use of paper and ink…or I need to cut my writing back somehow and erase nearly every trace of creativity, leaving only the most basic details to identify a person, place or object. Or, I make the crucial decisions and write one version of a story to the end before walking away from it.

—————

I refer you to a particular martial artist who likes to do his own stunts–and sometimes fumbles with his English–but also who ends a dubbed movie without much–if any–resolution. I’ve heard this is the common difference between American and “foreign” films. The former like to “dramatize” stories with scenes lacking action and/or filled with sentimental dialogue. The latter have a tendency to roll the credits after a fight, explosion or (if it’s a Bollywood film) dance sequence (for examples). [Because we all feel like dancing at the end of a story…even if it’s a sad or scary ending. Right? Well, ‘not me. The “big boss” has been defeated. Who cares what happens to the love interest and her/his hero? I’d sure like to know what became of the couple and any other characters thrown into the story who might have had more to say/do after their last appearance.]

And then, there is this series of hefty mystery novels I’ve been reading over the past two years, heavy on pages and details about real estate, light on essential content and closure. Throw in a tendency to wrench the whole shebang with a surprise account of something that happened some time ago–which connects to the key suspect you may not have suspected until then–near the end of the book, and you’ve got a not-so-nice little pot of guilt for spending time with three-hundred-plus pages sitting next to you while you recover from the gripping rush of the last fifty or so. [Don’t even get me started on printed errors missed by poor editing beneath the banner of “best author.” Nor do I want to ramble on about an obsession with a certain beverage and/or how nearly every character smokes so heavily that I find myself choking.]

I’ve read seventeen in the series which (to my knowledge) is only outnumbered by–perhaps–Nancy Drew and/or the Hardy Boys. [I’ve never read so many books in any two years of my life. I can’t be sure, but I may have read fewer books all four years I attended high school.] Maybe only three or four have sufficiently won me over. And, even they lack something. I started reading them as a sort of research for a project of my own. I have stuck with them because 1) they help counter some anxieties I suffer, 2) I am slow to shift gears in pursuit of other books I have yet to identify/select and 3) I keep hoping I will repeat my early triumph with a volume that I’d be inclined to read again later. My greatest satisfaction was in identifying the “villain” early on in the first book…followed by what may have been my biggest disgust and/or eye roll when that character did something unnecessary/unpleasant. There was a nice little red flag (or “red herring” in this case) that put this individual at the top of my suspect list. And, while other characters tugged at my attention, I never took my eyes off that one. Outside of this pursuit, there were a few others which seemed vexing and incomplete.

I suppose giving the layout of every road, building and physical action (including every detail of something as simple as leaving a room/house or visiting a restroom) helps with making a movie (if the visuals match the text exactly or if no one minds certain details being painfully altered). [And, I suppose “sex sells” if we’re to believe what some say. But, I like my sex scenes left subtle/suggestive and properly placed between characters who have sufficiently set the mood…not thrown in at some random location to break up an otherwise uneventful scene or to fill a quota for sales.] Maybe I am just ill-informed/inexperienced or lacking in imagination and unable to generate such accurate information. But, couldn’t some pages be saved by eliminating the manufacturers of building materials, the impact of moisture on a surface (which in no apparent way affects the story) and the exacted routes (including street names/numbers) a character takes while driving (or running or walking)? Couldn’t the house simply be small and white in new or weathered condition? Couldn’t the rain hitting the rooftop simply be that, be the crushing blow to some character’s life or be a metaphor for something else? Couldn’t the character drive a “winding path” across the state over a designated length of time (if it matters) with minimal mention of scenery to let readers know what sort of terrain is being traversed? Couldn’t someone fetch a glass of water without noting irrelevant details of the scenery and/or how their hands perform the task in what may be a not-so-unique way? Or, am I wasting my time picking on someone who others value for that precision?

The good person in me says “leave it be” because we all do things the way we’re told/taught or what feels right. But, some part of me itches to ask these questions.

 

[If you find any incomplete sentences, I apologize.  I started writing this in a huff and posted it without going back to check.  But, do let me know in case I don’t remind myself:D]

Advertisements

0 Responses to “Ending a Story (Book or Movie); Which Is Better?”



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Archives