As fans we all have our ‘perfect’ endings for the things we love, be it movies, books, comics, or something else that is more than a self-contained work. There is a gulf of difference between the solitary work and the series, an investment of time and emotion that most singular works don’t inspire. While a book that is a stand alone may disappoint someone the series will call out the wolves, the angry hoards that are just as passionate about their anger as they are their joy.
Woe be unto any that dares a series for you are inviting a world of chaos your way.
Naturally I wrote a series.
Well, it didn’t start that way, it just, well, happened. I wrote a book of short stories about some cute little flying sheepies and a witch. When the book reached it’s conclusion I figured that was the last thing I had to say about things. The story was complete. Oh but I did like those sheepies, and did fancy that world I had created and though, well, what if I just wrote some history from time to time to amuse myself. Thus, I entered the world of Tumblr and started to post some of the history of the Land of Man, where the initial story – The Meep Sheep – took place. As I wrote these histories I realized how much fun I was having writing about this world and suddenly there was a second book. And dope that I am I opened a door in that second book – The Kreep Sheep – that I felt compelled to close. That’s the foolishness of the writer, opening doors you then have to close. So then we had a third book, a proper novel, that was meant to tie up the loose ends I had unraveled. Now, for me, there’s not some huge fan-base clamoring for my writing so thus there’s no wild band of crazed weirdos all upset at me for destroying their beloved.
There’s a sense of ownership that happens to fans that invest themselves deeply into a series, a sense that they have a say in how the story should end. That doesn’t mean that it will change things but let’s face it, with all the creators in the world and all the fans, the louder they are, the angrier they are then there are creators that will be influenced by that. Most though are pretty set on which direction they want to head in and it is what it is. Fans don’t always love that though, believe me.
I was a fan of the Paranormal Activity series from the beginning and my wife and I adored the movies but by the end the series had lost its way and it ended on a huge kick in the junk. I am not sure I have ever been as frustrated and angry about a series as I was about the last entry of the PA films. Jeepers creepers. The thing is though that that was the ending they wanted. That was the ending they chose. I don’t have to like it but that’s the direction they went in. I can get upset, I can complain but just as I didn’t like it there are people out there that thought it was fabulous and were satisfied. The same goes for the controversial ending to the Dark Tower series. It was agonizing and brilliant and it was one of those things you would either love or hate and I stand sort of in the middle, both loving AND hating it. More than anything I love the guts that King had to do his ending and his books. But that’s the thing, in creating a series you have to accept that whatever ending you choose it will never live up to the hype that the fans have created for it.
And it can never live up to that hype.
As fans we feel a misguided ownership of the series and in our hearts WE know what is right and wrong and how things should go. Only, they know how THEY want it to go, not how other people would perceive as a ‘good’ ending. So as smart as we fans like to think we are the fact is that it’s all a crap shoot. If you are tuned into what the core of the story is and you follow that all the way through then wherever you end up is where you are meant to be, at least in your own heart and if you can live with it then you’re doing a lot better than most folks. I pity author George R.R. Martin because whatever he writes as the ending to his Game of Thrones seires it will never live up to what fans have created in their heads over the years.
And what a drag that is.
We have lost sight of simply enjoying things.
We have lost the sense of fun of losing ourselves in other worlds.
We don’t have to like where we always end up but there’s a beauty in that journey.
Sure, we don’t want to feel cheated after that investment of time, money, and emotions, but that’s the risk. You play the game and you see where it leads.
Games are not immune to poor endings and they now are part of the fray, part of the dangerously thin ice that connects all art and creation.
Done well you are legendary.
Done poorly, well, that’s why we have Twitter it seems.
There is something beautiful about the long form narrative found in a series. Something deep and rewarding for creator and fan both. Hand in hand you are walking along a brambled path with no idea where you’ll end up but each step takes you deeper into a story that wraps itself around you like a snake.
Sometimes that snake will bite.
Sometimes you’ll charm it and it will grant you a wish.
It could go either way, friend.
Shucks though, when you fall in love you don’t question it, you just buckle up and hope for the best.
And art, the best kind of art, is a heck of a ride.
And worth the risk.