Friday, April 9, 2010

Mars Needs Endings

There's a fundamental truth to writing. I'm giving it away free today because it seems that much of the world doesn't seem to understand it.

Stories need endings.

Endings complete the story. Endings make the story resonate. Endings make the story function. Most of all, endings make the story work as a story. Real life doesn't have endings. Stories do.

Endings is what makes fiction operate. It's the point of a story.

I say this in all seriousness since I see all around me stories that do not end and thereby cease being stories at all. Think Twilight. Think Two and a Half Men. Think Wheel of Time.

I'm not sure what to call these things without endings. Comfort prose? Junk fiction? I don't know. But they're not stories.

A story is a fragile armature. Characters are set up. They move forward in their environment. They solve their problems and change their world. They create an experience for the reader. The characters are changed by their experience and at the end of the story are not the same people as they were in the beginning. Therefore, if the characters continue they must change. Time must pass. People get old. They get wise. They die.

What I'm seeing are attempts to keep the characters the same and push them through a different set of experiences that produce the same effect in the reader-- the fiction equivalent of McBurgers: 90 billion read. Then, the characters wear out. The original matrix of their personalities fray under continued use. What do the writers do? They up the ante of the environment.

This is completely common in continuing comic books. It's why Superman, as much as I love the character, ultimately fails. Superman saves the city. Well, we have to top that. Superman saves the state. Have to top that again. Superman saves the country. Saves the world. Pretty soon, Superman is not much different from a god, then God himself. The best Superman stories are those that are presented with an ending. (My own favorite is Red Son, where Superman's rocket crash lands 12 hours earlier and hits a farm in the Ukraine and he's raised in the USSR under Stalin.)

James Bond is another example. He wore out in the books but you can't keep a good franchise down in the movies. There's too much money at stake. So what do they do? They up the stunts. Change the actor. In short, do everything possible to improve the product (and it is a product) without changing anything important. It's exactly the same with computer products where they change all the flash, glitter and user interface without fixing bugs that have been in the product since its inception. Think Windows. Think Word.

Think soap opera.

Links of Interest
Peep sushi
V: Music of the Trees
Massive spiral creepiness
V: Misbehaving shadow
Open prosthetics
V: Towel folding robot
Nomadic plants
V: Brain controller vs Marvin Minsky
Bobbing ocean generator
V: CNC Porn

Workshop organization tips
Mighty Ohm
Stirling engine society
Diet Coke and Mentos Kit
Cleaning brushes
Skeleton bot
Radio monitoring
Overhead kitchen rack
Bike light vest
Kinetic sculpture (mobiles)
Stoplight lens bird feeder
Paracord army men
Cruising a Stirling engine
Gakken mini guitar kit
Reblown beer glass tumblers
Micro forge
Hydroelectric generator
Solar generator

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