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ENDINGS part one

Banes at 12:00AM, Jan. 14, 2016

Endings are hard. We all know that. We have to tie up all the loose ends, answer all the questions, and pay off all the characters. We have to give a resolution that hopefully leaves our readers satisfied.

I know of a couple ways to deconstruct a story, and to look at endings. There are surely many more ways to do it, but these are the ones I've learned.


Some say any story needs a ‘plot question’ that keeps the reader/viewer on board for the answer. So the ending, in its most basic form, answers that question. Will those scarred, singing knuckleheads kill that big shark? Will the estranged couple work out their differences and get together? Will the detective solve the thingy? Will Xanadu finally…uh…do the…thing…that Xanadu wants to…okay, I haven't seen Xanadu.

Connected to that idea will be the Character Arcs. The ending will complete all the characters' arcs, in particular the Main Characters'. So the ending brings the character and plot to resolution.


Another approach is that a character has a WANT (or outer goal) and a NEED (an inner goal). I like this take on things, because it creates a little system for constructing different types of endings.

The WANT is the surface plot: He wants to lose his 40 year old virginity. She wants to evade/learn the identity of the serial killer.

The NEED is the emotional subtext, or the theme: He needs to grow up. She needs to get over the death of her mother.

A Happy ending will have the protagonist achieve both want and need.
A Downer ending will see both desires fail.
A Bittersweet ending will see the want NOT achieved, but the need ACHIEVED.
A Hollow Victory ending sees the outer need achieved and the need not achieved.

So the ending resolves the outer and inner needs in one of those four ways.

How do you approach ending your stories? What do you look for in an ending?


I just found a thread from over a year ago where we discussed this topic (it was also a 3-part Quackcast, apparently!



Banes at 8:01AM, Jan. 15, 2016

Ha...we did a big Quackcast trilogy based on a big thread on this topic about a year and a half ago. Here it is, if anyone wants to revisit it:

Banes at 3:39PM, Jan. 14, 2016

@Hip - Thanks, I like it too! Very helpful stuff!

Banes at 3:38PM, Jan. 14, 2016

I strongly agree about the "explanation" thing. Learning the cause of a Zombie Outbreak, the secrets to Jason's resurrections, or the science behind the Force would not improve the stories at all! Thanks for raising that point!

Banes at 3:36PM, Jan. 14, 2016

thanks you guys! @maskdt, I agree with you! Horror is often differently put together, and having every single thing explained is not what I like seeing, either. I guess it's the nagging questions and setups of the story that should be resolved/paid off.

Gunwallace at 11:17AM, Jan. 14, 2016

The Banes Method just keeps getting better when you add appendices to it like this.

HippieVan at 10:57AM, Jan. 14, 2016

I really love the idea of WANT/NEED, Banes! That made me think about my own comic and how it comes together at the end - I think it kind of resolves both, but I maybe should wrap up the need aspect of it a little bit better.

maskdt at 10:33AM, Jan. 14, 2016

It really depends on the genre, doesn't it? I'm a horror buff in a lot of ways, so I'm most familiar with the way horror narratives are structured. They're quite different from other narratives because they don't have to answer all the questions; in fact, they're often stronger if they don't. Do we need to know why the dead came back as zombies in Romero's films? No. The answer wouldn't make a difference to the characters, anyway. All we want to know is if the protagonists survive, and even that didn't always get answered. In horror, you can have a very ambiguous ending, where it's not clear if either the want or the need is met, and it can still be a very fitting ending. With other genres, well, your ending depends partly on whether or not you want to leave the door open for more stories in that universe, doesn't it? If all of your loose ends are tied up, then it's so much more difficult to start a new story with those characters. Sometimes, it even seems cruel to drag them back.

bravo1102 at 5:22AM, Jan. 14, 2016

I usually have a few endings in mind before beginning a script. Sometimes I find the ending written before the opening. Only one comic out of my eight had no end worked out before I began posting. Though that doesn't mean I won'the change or rework the ending multiple times before posting it. Or even shooting multiple endings and abandon the other at the last minute.

KimLuster at 4:27AM, Jan. 14, 2016

Another great topic - addressed very well...! I've had an particular plot and ending planned for the Godstrain from the beginning! And other than details, I haven't veered from that path! Shall I - we'll see!

Ozoneocean at 3:42AM, Jan. 14, 2016

Genejoke works those ends with both hands. Is that good for tight ones? You'd think that'd work a little better on the loose ones ^____^

bravo1102 at 2:10AM, Jan. 14, 2016

I've done a lot of endings but like to leave the characters only resolving some problems but not all and often finding something else has come up because life goes on and there's never a time where everything's wrapped up into a neat package. Or they all die.

Genejoke at 12:52AM, Jan. 14, 2016

Well, this is something I struggle with. Most of my comics are serials and ensembles, making them so clearly defined is tough so I the past I didn't work on them hand in hand. I did plot fin St and put characters into it without so much as looking at the need.

Ozoneocean at 12:51AM, Jan. 14, 2016

Nicely written! Your ending is nice and hard... not loose ;)

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