We talk a lot about first impressions in our day-to-day lives. You want to make a good first impression when you meet new people, or when you go for a job interview. The same goes for stories – you want your first chapter, first scene, or first episode to be a good one so that your audience is interested in seeing more.
What I think is less talked about is the importance of final impressions. They are just as, if not even more important than a first impression. A bad opening might scare your audience away, but a bad finale can ruin all of the work you’ve done so far. A poorly-written ending will live on forever as a disappointment in the minds of fans – especially in the age of the internet.
But how do you write a satisfying finale? And I mean satisfying – not necessarily “happy” – an ending that will leave your audience feeling like they just had a full serving of their favorite meal.
Today, I’m looking at two of my favorite TV series, Avatar: The Last Airbender and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (you’ll forgive me if I use acronyms for the rest of the post). Not only is each series consistently good throughout its run, but they also both end on what I feel is a satisfying note.
I’ve talked about both series before in passing, but since we’re talking about finales, it’s important that you understand each story’s premise as well. BEWARE OF SPOILERS!
When Stranger Things started garnering hype on the internet in 2016, I sent a text to my mom telling her she should watch it. She enjoyed shows with vague paranormal/alternate universe stuff like Fringe, and from what I could tell, Stranger Things was right up her alley. I wasn’t all that interested. I was midway through the first semester of my first year of college, and I preferred to spend my limited free time writing or gaming.
And then within a week of me telling my mom to watch Stranger Things, she messaged me and insisted that I give the show a try. And because I’m a good child (most days, at least), I listened to my mother.
Whatever I thought Stranger Things was going to be, it was so much better.
The Netflix Original series, created by brothers Matt and Ross Duffer, takes place in 1983 in the small, midwestern town of Hawkins, Indiana. The premise is simple enough: a young boy vanishes without a trace, and mysterious events begin taking place around the town. Combining an engaging sci-fi world with 1980s nostalgia set Stranger Things apart, but beyond that, the show features strong writing, dynamic characters, and a fascinating story.
With Season 3 of Stranger Things being recently released, I thought it would be a good time to revisit the show’s first season and analyze what we can learn from it.
Beware – Spoilers for Season 1 of Stranger Things below!
Siblings. Love them or hate them, you’re pretty much stuck with them. They’re always there for you in when you’re knocked down… sometimes to give you a hand, sometimes because they pushed you. Such is life.
In case you don’t know, I have a younger brother (just one – the header image is of me with my brother and my cousin). So as someone who’s experienced having a sibling, I feel like I can be a pretty good judge of when someone writes sibling relationships well… and most of the time, they don’t. They usually fall into one of two extremes: always getting along 24/7, or hating each other’s guts. Going off of my own experience and what I’ve learned from others, sibling relationships usually fall more in the middle.
But anyway, just because most people can’t write siblings to save their life doesn’t mean there aren’t good, well-written sibling relationships in stories. I’ve compiled a list of seven of them, just to prove it. So here we go.
There’s a stereotype of children’s entertainment being overly simplified and poorly written, and unfortunately, that’s true for a lot of children’s shows. Every so often though, there comes someone who puts time and effort into what they create, because they understand that children can be just as smart and perceptive as adults.
Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of those shows, and today I want to talk about just a few of the things we writers – even adult writers – can learn from it.
Father’s Day is a day meant to celebrate our dads, grandfathers, and other male role models in our lives. I’ve been blessed to have a great relationship with my own dad, but unfortunately, fathers in fiction tend to get a bad rap. They’re usually portrayed in a negative way, if they’re present in the story at all.
Despite this, I still believe there are a lot of good fathers and father figures in stories, you just have to look closely for them. Since I did something similar for Mother’s Day, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite fathers, grandfathers, and father figures in fiction.
In the United States, yesterday was Mother’s Day, a celebration of the women who have impacted our lives. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a number of women as my role models throughout my life, but none more so than my own mom and my grandmothers on both sides of my family. Ever since I was a kid, they’ve inspired me and taught me so much, and I look up to all of them greatly.
Me and my grandmothers
My mom and me
In light of Mother’s Day, I decided it was a good time to celebrate the awesome mothers in fiction as well. Parents in fiction get a bad rap, mostly because they tend to be absent in one way or another (oh how we love the orphan protagonist cliche). However, there are plenty of great moms, grandmas, and other maternal figures in books, TV shows, and other works of fiction, and I think they deserve to be recognized.
Information about the plot of a movie, TV show, book, video game, or any other form of media that ruins the viewer/reader/gamer’s enjoyment of the media in question.
The kind of person you don’t want to be.
Chances are, we’ve all been spoiled at some point in our lives – and no, it’s not the kind of spoiled that happens when your grandparents give you all the chocolate chip cookies you want. Perhaps someone once told you about how Harry Potter ends, or you know what happens in that particular episode of Sherlock, or maybe you know Sheik’s true identity despite having never played Ocarina of Time. Sometimes, spoilers are okay – you probably don’t care about how Harry Potter ends if you don’t plan on ever reading or watching it – but other times, they ruin things we would’ve otherwise enjoyed.
But that begs the question, what makes a spoiler spoil-y? When is it okay to discuss potential spoilers in public? How do I avoid them?
There isn’t a one-size-fits all formula for every single creative media ever made, but I have put together a few of my personal guidelines to give everyone a safe and spoiler-free existence (hopefully).
Because I need examples, there will be a few common spoilers mentioned below, but I’ll be blocking them out in white text and brackets [like this], so if you want to see them, highlight it with your cursor.
I was never one to watch a lot of TV. Even as a kid, I didn’t watch a lot of cartoons or other shows that most people of my generation remember fondly (it probably didn’t help that my family didn’t have cable television). The same held true for me as I got older, but in high school, I realized that TV shows weren’t just random cartoons and evening sitcoms. They could be just as interesting as the books I loved, just in a different way. Pretty soon, I found myself with a Netflix account, checking out a whole new world of storytelling.
This week, I want to share some of my favorite TV shows. There are many that I love, but these five are the ones that I find myself re-watching time and time again, and they’ve never stopped being interesting to me.