This blog has gotten a little of track of late, I think I’ve been letting my sentimental side run away with itself; time to correct that.
So, a post about writing, yay!
I was thinking recently about endings, specifically endings to stories. In short, they’re hard to do. I think the hardest thing any writer has to do is bring the curtain down on a story, especially if that story is part of a long running series that they have invested no small an amount of time into. I’m only just embarking upon writing my own writing adventure with the Brogan books and so I don’t need to think about ending it any time soon, but the thought of doing it fills me with a deep feeling of dread whenever it enters my mind.
I think a writer has two main problems when coming to ending a story, ending at the right time and ending in the right way.
I’ll start with ending at the right time. One of the worst things a writer can do in my opinion is to draw out a story, all stories and characters for that matter have a shelf life. The time comes when consideration must be given to whether the best thing for them is to end it, there a few things worse than seeing a much-loved character being flogged like a dead horse to put off their eventual execution. I get why they do it, we love them, they’re like part of the family and ending their story is akin to taking a family pet to the vet knowing it’ll be last time you do.
Overstating the issue? Maybe, but I love my characters, even the bastards; I put too much into creating them not to get attached to them.
Whilst timing is important, equally as important is execution. How many times have we been following a story in whatever medium we’re experiencing it, only to get to the end and be left feeling distinctly underwhelmed. Take for example the ending to the first trilogy in the Mass Effect series of games. Now sure it’s purely a matter of opinion on whether the ending to Mass Effect 3 was any good, indeed it is a very polarizing topic. Much like Marmite, you either love it or you hate it. But it doesn’t alter the fact that it left many people feeling like they had been sold a lemon.
For those of who haven’t played the games, the series was sold on the basis that the choices you made through the series would affect the ending. I can only speak for my own experience, but I was personally feeling good running into the last half an hour of gameplay. The story had been good, the musical score was outstanding and the characters were all behaving in characteristic fashion. Sadly, everything north of this point was, in my opinion at least, complete and utter bollocks.
Half an hour later and the game was over. I won’t tell you how it went, I will however say three words that should explain the situation clearly; deus ex machina. The writers threw a curveball, and not in a good way. It was a disappointing end to what had otherwise been an outstanding series of games, the response of the writers to criticism didn’t help matters any either, but that’s a topic for another time. The moral of the story is this; timing and execution are key. If you want your stories to be remembered for the right reasons you need make sure you end them at the right time and in the right way, of course having a good story also helps.
For my part, I hope that when the time comes for me to end the Brogan series, I do it right. It may not have many fans now, but those it does have deserve the best I can do.
Peace out folks, and have a lovely day.