This week I finished a new commission piece, called The Views of May! It’s designed to work both as a standalone piece and as a character piece on a particular character my stories left behind. I’d recommend you read the piece before reading the rest of this blog.
Closure is a difficult thing. There are some points where I feel like closure would almost ruin the point of stopping a character’s journey where I did. For example, The Mystery of Lakeview Mall ended on a very deliberate point of lack of closure. To pick it up exactly where it left off in a sequel would be, to me, a shame. If I had a gun to my head and had to write a sequel to it, I might pick up a length of time later, from another character’s POV. Sometimes, explaining everything leaves too much on the table. Audiences like the unsaid, as much as they beg for explanations.
The Mystery of Lakeview Mall is probably a bad example for that exact point, since the cliffhanger was very cheesy and, as critics argue, a little sudden and cheap-feeling. It’s a good point, and rest assured, it’s not a case of me giving my own viewers the finger. It’s not like I deliberately subvert readers’ expectations with this master plan or something – a lot of the time I have no clue what I’m doing, and just want to write what I feel is truest to the story.
My greater point is, closure isn’t necessary to be good. There are plot points I’m planning to pay off in the long-term, and there are things I deliberately want to never fully pay off, because I find that whatever the audience imagines happened after is much better (especially for their particular tastes) than whatever I could provide. And, crucially, providing can rob people of this opportunity.
Someone once wrote fan fiction for Being More Social. The site that hosted it is now gone, otherwise I would link to it. It was a deeply kind piece that clearly reflected a lot of love to its characters, and basically picked up right where Being More Social ended. It’s not what I would have done with the story, but that didn’t matter. It’s what this person would have, and they clearly enjoyed the world and its characters so much that their imagination kept hanging on to that story. I imagine the existence of Consequences kind of… overrules their vision. Since Consequences is a direct sequel, what I write in it is canon, and even though this isn’t ‘closure’ yet, the end of the story will have definitive qualities. It almost cancels the ability to imagine a ‘what if.’
I think of shows that ended either at the height of their popularity, or before they ever got popular at all. Firefly and Arrested Development come to mind. In the case of the former, it got cancelled and a niche following worshipped basically every aspect of the show. I’m old enough to remember the exact point when its sequel movie, Serenity, came out. The series got closure, and yet, even the rabid fans seemed to care much less about the franchise after the movie was released. A few people had their criticisms of the movie, but truthfully, it was decently made, and wraps up the story kind of nicely. It was just a fact that closure left less intrigue to the show and left people not wanting more, but almost wanting less. Like they preferred how they imagined it would end.
Given this, I try to think about what deserves closure and what doesn’t, to leave people wanting more of my stories but also not denying every request for embellishment. I imagine that thought will take a central hold on how I write for the foreseeable future. I thought I wouldn’t touch a certain character again, and even though, when it comes down to it, I barely said anything about her, the fact I even mentioned her at a later age and implied she’s doing alright says something in and of itself.
A great coincidence happened days before my finishing of this story where a comment pointed out that they felt a twinge of longing for the character. I don’t know if this person will enjoy or lament actually seeing her again. The idea is good, of course, but in reality, maybe I wrote her poorly. Maybe I wrote her fine but not in the exact way that person wanted. Who knows?
Some things deserve closure, some don’t. Some things deserve closure and don’t get it, and some things don’t deserve closure and get it. One of the endless responsibilities of a writer is to instinctively know what deserves closure and what doesn’t, and getting that right or wrong isn’t always clear. Yet another reason to just write for the joys of writing and not for some objective value in storytelling, because of course, objectivity in stories doesn’t exist. I’ll talk to you all next week.
3 thoughts on “[New Piece Posted!] Closure”
A closure is good if it can both set an end to a character’s arc but also giving enough space for fans to imagine different outcomes, at least that’s my opinion. That being said, it’s cool to see what ifs about the things that we like. There is so many series that I constantly go and find “what if” fanfictions where certain event was done differently or what would have happened if certain character was in another character’s place (What if Quinn was in Adam’s place, for example), and what would be the outcomes of those things, while still keeping those characters true to themselves. I think I like those stories the most right now, since they explore those universes in ways that the official material isn’t able to, giving to us a new experience. That being said, I think I’m gonna end this comment now, or else I’ll just keep going. I’m hopeful to see what you have in store for us.
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Have you seen Twin Peaks? The original two series and movie came out in the nineties, it gained a cult following with a lot of fan theories and fiction wrote about it. The third series came out a few years ago, twenty something years later.
It was wildly different, but universally loved because it hit the perfect balance of closure vs mystery on every single character arc and subplot. It still left mystery on the events directly after the second series too, because of the decades long gap.
I feel like this story does a similar thing that adds content to May’s long term character without disrupting people’s speculation about what happens to her immediately after BMS. You did a good job, especially for a stroke story commission
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That’s very kind of you, although I’d never dare compare anything I’ve made yet to Twin Peaks.