Writing Echoes

Delijah's Writing Blog

Endings and Disappointments

Some weeks ago, there was a big episode in Game of Thrones that had fans freaking out and George R.R. Martin having a blast regarding them. I own up not to have read the books as I was too hooked on Dragonlance when they came out, and later on too disappointed on Dragonlance – Fifth Era to want to go into more fantasy sagas. I am a bit of an unfaithful fan, if someone drags too long I tend to end up edging away from it.

Anyway, the guy made a few points here:

While I can somehow relate to the fans, a couple of those epic and not-so-epic deaths in, once again, Dragonlance lead me to believe that no, you can’t manage to write fantasy without a good death or two. However you need the epicness factor. Fantasy, after all, many times orbits around war and casualties happen in war. The point is that the reader gets to feel something relating to the death of that character, which sometimes becomes hate for the writer. Not only that “sick bastard” on the video really sounded heart-felt, I recall Margaret Weiss mentioning getting hatemail for Xxxxx’s glorious death in battle (sorry, no spoilers policy). It is good that characters manage to inspire deep feelings, and even better that the story itself is captivating enough to create those reactions.

Tom Clancy said that “the difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense”. Not only that, it needs to connect with the receptor somehow, to arise feelings. Else, what’s the point?

However, what about a feeling of disappointment? Agatha Christie would not stop writing Poirot, no matter how much she hated him, in fear of disappointing her fans (and losing their money, one guesses). Conan Doyle brought Sherlock back from the death too, upon he alleged hatemail (so it is said). No, Ian Malcon’s return from the death for Jurassic Park does not have anything to do with disappointment, more with $$ and movie royalties.

Life is tough and disappointing, but can we deal with fiction being so? Sometimes we see it in shows, especially police ones, that the character suffers a disappointment – they like the murderer, or they can’t save the victim, and the episode leaves you with a bitter taste, but that is usually gone the next week with the new episode, because there is not an ending there, there is continuity.

I am always in fear of writing anticlimatic endings, as I always feel they are disappointing, too much like real life. I desperately try to avoid what would make my reader self disappointed, which sometimes… yeah, makes wrapping up a story hard. Also, in the back of my mind, I seem to think that a disappointing ending is the excuse for a follow-up XD

This is something I am considering at the moment, the whole storyline in a few words, so I’m giving away the ending:

Nantoka-sensei (Mr. Whatever) is a fairly young and enthusiastic teacher in a private school in Tokyo. He gets involved in a sex-scandal and accused of rape. Although his is innocent, he loses his job and reputation, so he can’t work in education any more. He takes a temporary job as a host in a disreputable bar, and eventually he is cleared out. However, due to the seediness of his last job and the acquaintances he has made, nobody will take him back in education. Eventually he lands as a tour guide, which allows him to pay his bills, but he is not happy at it, and no major incident in his life makes him achieve realisation, just… day-to-day going on.

For me, the unwrapped, anticlimatic ending, is what makes Nantoka-sensei a good supporting character, but not a main character. If I were to read his story, I would be terribly disappointed, because for me, the story needs a wrap-up.

Blog posts do too, apparently, because I always feel the need to end up with a point or something.


2 responses to “Endings and Disappointments

  1. Denise July 21, 2013 at 03:40

    Personally I don’t understand the fascination with character death that many people, including authors have. If the story calls for it then it cannot be helped, but killing off characters just to fuck with people’s heads is doing your readers a disservice in my opinion. Take the Game of Thrones example, if you kill most of your leading roles and fan favorites you suddenly lack people to carry the story and keep people interested. Or at least that’s what bored me with it.
    And as reading or watching fiction is a hobby for many, I don’t see why anyone would keep exposing themselves to things that sadden and depress them. But I know I am weird thinking that.
    Sorry for the long comment!

    • Sakaki Delijah July 26, 2013 at 22:45

      Well, in Martin’s case, he does to fuck with his readers’ minds. He must be doing it well to be able to provoke so strong emotions and at the same time keeping the fanbase faithful (see Memebase).

      As you know, I sometimes do indulge in sad and depressing movies or series, but I don’t feel depressed by them – unlike for instance reading the news. I guess I find some comfort on them being fictional…