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expectations in endings

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it''s so easy to write a lame ending to a story. the best endings meet 3 criteria: * are suprising * are inevitable * offer a complete solution (except when a story is deliberately open ended) giving a full ending that ties up loose endings aint too hard as long as you 1) keep track of what''s happening in you''re plot, and 2) don''t leave meny questions unanswered towards the end inevitability is a tricky but neccesary condition. this isn''t as simple as "the guy gets the girl" or "the goodies beat the baddies". the plot elements (from a writer''s point of view) have a destiny, the writer know''s what''s going to happen, and must make sure the audience gets their payoff. it has to be logical and in flawless circumstances (this is rocky ground for freeform games) suprise is the holy grail of endings. what happened HAD to happen, it was inevetable and could not happen any other way. but the audience should never expect it. usually this is achieved because everyone knows person A is going to win, the fun is in finding out how (Mission Impossible). another common method is red herrings. often a writer will give clues that distract the audience from the genuine clue (like slight-of-hand magicians), but since the clue was there to be seen the audience can''t complain they never had a chance. but it is too easy to lead people down pointless dead ends, which is just irritating, the crux of all this is the suprise endings: we have all seen countless stereotypical stories (the trapped princess, the fugitive). the inevitability and tight plotting are details of implementation. i want to address the problem of avoiding the standard types. what would you LEAST expect to happen at the end of these stories? (you suggestions should be plausible within the fictional world) a race of robots tries to take over the world an old war between two powerful families a spaceship is infiltrated by an impossible-to-kill alien earth is destroyed and colonies on mars are at a loose end people stuck on a desert island split into factions a man must prove his innocence, revealing the true culprit by breaking the law a common man leads his people to rebel against a tyrannical leader time travel is risky and requires policing etc etc etc..... ******** A Problem Worthy of Attack Proves It''s Worth by Fighting Back

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Hey doodle, I believe the point was to indicate what you thought would be least likely to happen, not to give substantive examples of the scenarios.

- a race of robots tries to take over the world
The robots are men in armored suits, taking back their world (which had been taken from them by the current citizenry hundreds of years ago)

- an old war between two powerful families
Humorous ending. No one today can remember why they were fighting, storyline is one of discovery - and turns out to be something silly, like one welshed on a minimal bet or broke another''s favorite toy as children.

a spaceship is infiltrated by an impossible-to-kill alien
- Intro: ship''s crew wakes up from hibernation. Ending: they discover none of it was real, they were in an induced dream state for a psychological study on how a crew would react to such a threat.

earth is destroyed and colonies on mars are at a loose end
- .... stuck here...

people stuck on a desert island split into factions
- after the usual fights, alliances, betrayals and deaths they discover they were only a few miles from mainland. A bit cliche, but given the scenario...

a man must prove his innocence, revealing the true culprit by breaking the law
- and it turns out he really did do it, but the trauma blocked the memory

a common man leads his people to rebel against a tyrannical leader
- in a futuristic setting, the "common man" is a cloned "sleeper" placed among the people. In the wake of unrest his programming forces him to rally the people behind him, gaining their support. The act of overthrowing the current ruler is a sham; they simply transfer the mind of the ruler into the sleeper agent, allowing him to continue to rule ad infinitum under a new name.

time travel is risky and requires policing
- ugh. me hates time travel.

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earth is destroyed and colonies on mars are at a loose end
- The mad scientist on Mars decides he should unshrink the earth after forgetting something he left there.

time travel is risky and requires police
- Police go back in time and destroy the first time machine after some criminals used the time machines for bad purposes.

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a race of robots tries to take over the world

an old war between two powerful families

a spaceship is infiltrated by an impossible-to-kill alien

earth is destroyed and colonies on mars are at a loose end
- Martians use their freedom from Earth''s tradition-bound politics and patriarchies to found a new utopian society with free love and robots doing all the work

people stuck on a desert island split into factions
When they finally get off the island it turns out the rest of the world''s been depopulated - while they were having their little tribal war the larger world was having WW3

a man must prove his innocence, revealing the true culprit by breaking the law
he fails but it''s nicer in jail because that''s where they put all the innocent people, only the corrupt people go free

a common man leads his people to rebel against a tyrannical leader
the plausibility of the rebellion was based on a misconception, like escaping by sailboat when they''re inside a spacestation with a fake lake.

time travel is risky and requires policing
due to twists of time the good guys and the bad guys are the same side


What was the point of this exercise again?

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a race of robots tries to take over the world
- The robots suceed, of course, but it is later revealed that the robots are not autonomous and not a "race" but tools used by a powerful coporation or government to subjugate the rest of the population. The ruling humans pretend to be slaves of the robots themeselves but are really calling the shots (it would be cool if this is how the matrix ended.)

The robots are not trying to take over the world persay, but make it a better place for humanity. Although the robots would truly improve things, humans are scared of the power of the robots and start a war.

an old war between two powerful families
- For generations the sons and daugthers of the two families have been falling in love and having illegitimate children. This third family is annoyed with seeing their relatives feud for so long and slaughters the members of both sides that continue the feud.

a spaceship is infiltrated by an impossible-to-kill alien
- The alien is impossible to kill, but is friendly and just wants to learn about human culture. Although at first the crew is afraid and attempts to kill the alien, once it explains it's intentions and they get to know it, they are all (or mostly) good friends with the alien. When the ship returns, the goverment finds an alien that is immune to current weapons to be too much of a treat and ends up torturing and killing the friendly alien in order to develop weapon systems capable of fighting a potential invasion.

earth is destroyed and colonies on mars are at a loose end
- It turns out that earth wasn't destroyed, but Earth is afraid of a war with the martian colonies and fakes it's destruction in order to trick the martian invaders.

people stuck on a desert island split into factions
- The people are not really stuck on a desert island, but are playing a game show ala survivor. They aren't told they're playing until they "lose" (fake death) in order to increase the realism of the show.

a man must prove his innocence, revealing the true culprit by breaking the law
- The man ends up proving that he in fact is the true culprit,
even though he believed he was innocent at first. (Amnesia, split personalities?)

a common man leads his people to rebel against a tyrannical leader
- It turns out that the "common man" was once a tyrannical leader himself, and the tyrannical leader is really benevolent and made to look bad by the common man's propaganda.

time travel is risky and requires policing
- Time travel is risky for the travelers, not the general population, and policing does very little to reduce risk, it is simply in place for political reasons, to help reduce peoples fears of rumors about the effects of time travel. Because the police are constantly following criminals that change the time stream, they end up in a series of alternate universes and end up having to change the timestream themselves in order to get back to their "home universe."

boy gets girl
- The boy doesn't get the girl, instead she deceives him, and confuses him, resulting in lots of frustration (shouldn't bring personal stuff into plot ideas...). It works well for a comedy, something like American Pie, but with only the pie. Alternatively you could have a boy rejects girl scenario like in Spiderman, except slightly more logical. Maybe the boy loves another girl (the one that rejected him?) or the girl is the enemy and the boy decides is a better idea to kill her for the good of mankind than to hook up with her.

the goodies beat the baddies
- The goodguy loses, the badguy takes over the world, but the world is a better place because of it.

[edited by - impossible on November 20, 2002 11:54:33 PM]

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an old war between two powerful families
- turns out they were just nanobots/artificial germ colonies, and their fight powered some larger being...

a spaceship is infiltrated by an impossible-to-kill alien
- The alien is harmless

earth is destroyed and colonies on mars are at a loose end
- destruction of earth was faked to make the colonists work more effectively.


Gotta think on the others.

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some of these responses are seriously good!

feel free to suggest your own typical cliche scenarios, let''s not forget to tackle the single most lazy & overused one: amnesia

typical amnesia plot (especially in games) is to rediscover who you were. what if the answer is noone? suppose you were manufactured for some purpose, then your unsuccessful attempts to find history start the cogs turning for the real plot. the whole tangle is symbolic of existentialism and you can only uncover the real truth by abandoning the truth you need most: your own identity. perhaps this is too deep for deus ex 3...

********


A Problem Worthy of Attack
Proves It''s Worth by Fighting Back

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Well, but by knowing that you''ve been manufactured don''t you rediscover who you were?

Oh, but I have an idea - what if everything you remember becomes real, even if it wasn''t before? So at certain points the game gives you a choice what to remember, and unwinds the plot accordingly.

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sorry, that last post was a little unclear

in the example, you would have to abandon the search for your identity and resolve the plot ignorant of whether you were brainwashed/manufactured/traumatised

okay, sunandshadow, ill rephrase that to "abandon the search for the illusion of self you had previously developed"

********


A Problem Worthy of Attack
Proves It''s Worth by Fighting Back

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The writers on Star Trek: TNG were hired season by season. The writer for the first cliffhanger episode "The Best Of Both Worlds" wrote the first half but his contract expired after that, so he didn''t have to worry about the ending. Then they rehired him so he had to figure a way out of his impossible situation

Two story elements I dislike are the "and then I woke up" ending where the whole story was just a dream and the surprising plot twist thrown into the story just for the sake of having a plot twist.

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