1. Psychotrshman
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    Psychotrshman Member

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    Does everything have to end?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Psychotrshman, Jul 23, 2012.

    Here's the question that has been wracking my brain for a few days now :rolleyes: : Does every thing mentioned in your story have to come to an end? Through the course of my story, I introduce a pretty huge event that is integral to the plot carrying on. This event isn't part of the stories Plot, but the story doesnt continue if this doesnt happen. Can I end my story without ever bringing closure to this event? It isn't something that can just end. It isn't going to be "Closed" without alot of explanation that isn't needed for this story.

    Example:
    The story of a soldier recording the events of an army unit during WWII. His story ends when he goes home half way through the war to compose his video, does the wars resolution really matter? Does it need to be included in the novel anywhere?

    The answer I have come to on my own is that it'll be okay to just drop it off and not mention it again since the character the story follows is past that part of his life. Bringing closure to it would be for another character to achieve at some other time in a different story than I'm telling. I'm interested in other people's opinions on this matter. Through indirect actions, can you create a huge "What Happens To _____?" situation at the end of your book if it isn't relevant to the plot line of that story? Thanks in advance for your opinions! :D
     
  2. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Frankly, books that bring closure to everything tend to be a bit too neat for me. I don't mind that there are questions left unanswered - as long as the questions truly relevant to the story are dealt with. Sometimes - as in the case of a series - major questions are still left unanswered, but that's okay when the reader understands it eventually will be. But tying everything up in a neat little bow at the end - meh. And then, of course, there's always the MacGuffin...
     
  3. vVvRapture
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    vVvRapture Member

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    No, not everything in your story has to end.

    Obviously, the main narrative of the novel should end. It wouldn't be much of a story if you're main character's adventure is randomly cut short for whatever reason. I feel like you understand that.

    However, that doesn't mean everything has to come to a conclusion. Background events/things can still be in motion or not have a set end and loose ends can still be untied.

    In your situation, the war doesn't need to have come to an end by the end of the story. Considering everyone knows the resolution of WWII, I wouldn't stress over making a big deal over its resolution unless its resolution plays a big part in the story (which it doesn't seem like it does). So, it seems like you're fine.
     
  4. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Interesting question. Not sure if your example reflects your story but by using WWII you've taken a slice of history that most people know how it's resolved
    therefore a follow up isn't as important - not resolving an intergallic war , however might have your readers frustrated unless you hint along the way that
    your story will not tie every loose end.
    Gone with the wind leaves us hanging - in fact a lot of good books leave us hanging with characters or situations caught in limbo. As long as you prepare the
    reader I think you can pull it off. Sometimes not tying off every loose end gives you a stronger , more realistic story.
     
  5. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    For your WWII example, we know how the war ended. So, if your book begins and ends in, say, 1943, we all know from our history that it ends in 1945 with the Red Army pounding into Berlin, Hitler committing suicide in his bunker, etc.

    But that is a major event that we all know. This has given me a question in my own head about this. Suppose you're writing a history that no one really knows that much about?

    I guess in some cases, it's good to leave some things loose, to let your readers imagine for themselves what happened. Did Susan Mowers re-open her grandfather's icecream shop? Did Max Clark get that promotion he wanted? I love to make up my own ideas of what could have happened. You don't have to tell the readers what happened to every single major and minor character after the last chapter ended.

    Now, in others, it isn't. The death of a character, for instance. If you had Max being blown off a bridge near the end, never to be seen again, you may want to mention via other characters that he died, otherwise readers are going to be pissed that a somewhat major character got offed, and his status was never verified.
     
  6. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    Your example has an anachronism: nobody made "videos" in the WWII era. Film, ok.
     
  7. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Uh, they did make footage during WWII. Go on Youtube and type in "WWII footage".
     
  8. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Films and videos were very popular throughout WWII. The German Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels used them extensively and Hitler himself appeared in 'home videos' shot by his Mistress. One of the oldest and most loved films is a 1920s version of Dracula named Nosferatu, and a 1930s version of Dracula staring Bella Lugosi is still watched and enjoyed today. Videos existed will before this though, with the earliest known video being made in the very late 1800s.
     
  9. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think there's a different between bringing closure/wrapping something up and actually "ending" or answering something, if that makes sense. But in short, yeh I think it's fine to leave unanswered questions - actually that's what I loved about Henning Mankell's books sometimes - that questions about Wallander's (MC's) personal life were left unanswered, because that's just how things work in life. But we see Wallander reacting to it, musing over it, suffering over not knowing - this, to me, is "closure" for the reader. You still deal with it in some small way, but that doesn't mean an answer has been provided.

    However I think that's different to something reeeally important just never getting mentioned again. That would be not giving closure.
     
  10. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    Unresolved issues are fine so long as they're not the crux of the story -- although I can think of some tales where even seemingly important issues aren't really wrapped up.
     
  11. Morkonan
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    Morkonan Senior Member

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    Subplots do not have to be concluded at the end of the story's main plot. However, you should tidy up as many as possible in order to give the reader the satisfaction of seeing them come to a close. An "Ending" is called an "ending" because that is what it is. Just be sure that when you're tidying up sub-plots, you don't hack their conclusions so that they seem too contrived. Make them sensible and, if you can't, then leave them hanging.

    Important - What you have written as an example is not a Subplot. It is part of the Setting.

    The war is not a Subplot in this case. Instead, it is the Setting in which the story takes place. There is no need for you to present the reader with an "end" to a Setting.
     
  12. Psychotrshman
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    Psychotrshman Member

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    The example I gave was just a random thought that seemed like it would convey my idea. I think Morkonan has led me from astray though. My story is a mix of The Truman Show meets The Village meets Friday the Thirteenth. About 70% of the story happens in this Truman-esque dome. When the time comes for the book to start winding down, the domed society and all its inhabitants are just left behind to never be mentioned again.

    My concern was that this domed society and the people within were the plot. After thinking over Morkonan's post, I think this falls more in line with the setting for that portion than it does with the plot. Its just where the plot happens to take place. So, is leaving an entire domed society in the whims at the end of the book too big of a loose thread?
     
  13. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    My point was that "video" was not a term in use in the WW II era for audio-visual programming, which was pretty much restricted to film. The term has usually been used to refer to technology other than film, originally television and then computer images. The first practical and very expensive video tape recorder was made in 1951. The old stuff on YouTube has been transferred from film.
     
  14. MissNonscentical
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    MissNonscentical New Member

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    This is how I feel, personally. I love when books have some type of cliff hanger and leave me wondering what exactly happened in the end, or what will happen next. Makes them more interesting that way.
     
  15. Complex
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    Complex Senior Member

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    Plot holes and loose ends are a sign of a bad writer! Its one thing to have an open ending, but an open ending doesn't need to have a 'cliff-hanger' and it doesn't need loose ends. When all is said and done, a new phase of life begins, it can be open to interpretation by the reader, but we do not leave the book with the main character receiving a new problem from an antagonist. It reeks of 'trilogy' or 'sequel'.
     
  16. -oz
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    -oz Active Member

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    Just remember, stories are about people and the change they go through. As long as your characters' stories are finished, the world can (and will) keep changing. This isn't a cliff-hanger or a plot hole, it's simply life.
     
  17. Gonissa
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    Gonissa Contributing Member

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    Uh, basically the key here is to end the plot properly for your characters. Make sure the characters that your audience like the best are concluded appropriately. Side characters are the best to leave unresolved, especially if you hint at and give the readers ideas of what possibly could have happened to them. Leaving it vague can make your readers more interested in your character. For example, there's a bajillion fanfiction writers out there with theories as to how Mega Man classic turned into the Mega Man X series. They mystery of how this happens just captures peoples' imagination.

    It's sort of hard to define this sort of thing. You have to be really careful about going to far with being mysterious, and can only learn by reading/writing. Have you seen Source Code? It does a good job of not really resolving the plot and yet getting away with it.
     
  18. ThievingSix
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    ThievingSix Member

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    I think we can all relate to the example of LOST, the prime time television drama as an example of a story with no ending.

    Some people may have liked it, but for me the plot was running purely on the basis of answering questions posed, but either never really answering them, or answering them with more questions(but still not answering the original question). This is extremely frustrating, sure i don't mind a "think about it" moment at times but LOST got to the point where it was ridiculous. I found that there was just plot hole after plot hole and by leaving the story open ended, people were getting frustrated and simply switching off.

    Back to the point, i think its necessary to bring resolution to your protagonist and the main point of conflict, however a good story leaves enough open to make the reader want to buy the next one.
     
  19. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    To the OP, take this advice to heart. it is simple, to the point and says exaclty what needs to be said. It is ok to have loose ends, on things that don't retain importance. If the MC is no long er in the war at the end of the book, You don' need to end the war in the end of the book. You can add an epilogue, but unless the story itself was compelling, people generally skim through the prologue until they find out what happens to the MC.
     
  20. Caeben
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    Caeben Member

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    I agree with Shadowwalker in this issue. Tying up and resolving all of the plots, even the primary arc, into a neat little conclusion where everything is answered is frustrating and annoying. I think, even for a stand-alone style novel, there should always be at least a few unanswered questions. Perhaps a character or two, even one of the main ones, seems to get "left behind" in the story's ending. I find this to be a more realistic portrayal and allows for future works to explore these questions and characters, or to take new angles on plots that may not have been resolved. Trying to "finish" all of the stories of one work traps you in a corner for any kind of future writing you may wish to do.
     
  21. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    I believe that a story doesn't have to be completely resolved.. Haven't you ever read a story that leaves more possibility, and you sat there thinking about all the different ways you would have wanted it to end? I agree on the subject of character arcs. As long as the transformation you were trying to depict has taken place, you can end it however you want. In short stories, I typically end the story just after the character goes through his change and carries out the action that supports it, leaving the story blank afterwards, if an attempt to allow the reader their own freedom of creativity.

    And, I must agree with B93.. Not sure how people misinterpreted his first post. During the WWI-WWII era, footage was not referred to as video.. it was referred to as film.. and it would probably be right to stick with the language of the time.
     

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