A spread showing three comics from the Avatar: The Last Airbender series and three volumes from the manga Fullmetal Alchemist. The 6 books are aranged in an arc shape with the covers facing up.

Writing Unforgettable Finales (Featuring Avatar: The Last Airbender and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)

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!

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The Stranger Things Season 1 DVD/Blu-Ray collection against a dark blue background. The box is decorated to look like an old VHS tape

Writing Lessons from Stranger Things

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!

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A stack of four books slightly fanned out. From top to bottom, they are The Outsders, The Hunger Games, Eliza and Her Monsters, and The Red Pyramid.

Seven Siblings from Stories

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.

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A funko pop figurine of Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Next to him is a small funko of Momo, a lemur-like creature.

Writing Lessons From Avatar: The Last Airbender

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.

Beware, spoilers ahead!

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