When you meet the right person you know it. You can’t stop thinking about them. They’re your best friend… and your soul mate. You can’t wait to spend the rest of your life with them. No one and nothing else can compare.
Now that I’ve finished Gray’s story, I’ve been thinking a
lot about endings. Specifically, how hard they are to get right. I spent two books
expanding Gray’s world and adding new plot threads, and suddenly it was time to
wrap everything up. I wanted to do it justice. I wanted readers to be satisfied.
When I think about unsatisfying
series endings, I always circle back to LOST. I loved that show, I really did,
but after six seasons, the finale was…underwhelming? The writers gave us this
fascinating world with multiple timelines and scientific experiments and themes
of science versus faith, but after the credits rolled, tons of viewers were still
unclear as to what the heck actually happened. Were they dead the whole time? Was the island purgatory? Which
timelines were/were not real?
There are lots of thoughts/theories floating around in
regards the above questions, but the problem remains: if the majority of people
devouring a story are left drowning in questions once the curtain falls,
something went wrong with the ending.
So what ingredients are necessary for a satisfying series conclusion?
I think it comes down to three things:
1) The main conflict
is resolved. The inciting incident—whatever disrupted the protagonist’s
‘normal’—is addressed, and a new ‘normal’ is reached. The conclusion can hint
at new action, but it should in no way feel like a cliffhanger.
2) Character arcs are
complete. Regardless of if the villain is man, nature, self, etc., the main
character likely needs to undergo some sort of transformation to emerge
victorious. Who is the person they need to become? Do they get there?
3) Threads from
subplots are mostly tied up. The substantial threads—the ones that have
readers asking questions—need to be resolved. But I say ‘mostly’ because tying
up everything would result in a dense
and sluggish book. And besides, I’ve always loved a story where a couple teeny
threads remain open by the final page. Those unknowns allow me to imagine
what’s next for the characters, and in this way, they live on forever.
Which reminds me of Chuck the Prophet from TV’s Supernatural, who wisely says, “No
doubt, endings are hard. But then again… nothing ever really ends, does it?”
of my favorite series endings includeHarry Potter (Rowling), Legend
(Lu), Something Strange and Deadly
(Dennard), Blood Red Road (Young), and
in TV-land, Fringe and Scrubs.