end

The ending that lives on within the reader

The organic story finds its ending in its beginning. Thus, a great story signals the audience back to the beginning in its ending. A story can have a finality ending, where the story truly ends on the last page of the book. Great books have the story continue in the minds of the audience. This allows the audience to imagine the future for themselves and to loop back to the beginning and experience the story again from the start with refreshed enjoyment.

The two cycle story

This story can be read twice, then the reader finds the absolute ending. The story ends with a shocking reveal, which makes the audience want to loop back and experience it again to see how this new found knowledge changes their experience. For example, the Sixth Sense. The first loop, the audience assumes the psychologist is a alive, helping a suffering boy. Then the ending reveal shocks the audience with the truth. Clues have been dropped all along, though they weren’t recognised. The audience loops back to the start and experiences the story differently. A third loop doesn’t change the experience again and doesn’t provide new information. Thus this is the two cycle story.

The endless story

This story can be looped over and over again while still providing the audience with an experience. To craft an endless story, here are several tools:

  • The protagonist fails to achieve his desire. Other characters come up with a new desire at the end of the story.
  • Give a shocking character change to an opponent of minor character, revealing him to be a true hero. The story can be experienced in a different light the next cycle. For example: Snape, Harry Potter.
  • Provide huge amounts of background detail.
  • Give elements and texture (in characters, moral arguments, symbols, plot, story world) that remain interesting after the plot surprises and character changes.

Truby, J. (2007) The Anatomy of Story.