July 9, 2012

I was watching a re-run of a series on TV called The Agency.  Some of the story lines were controversial but the acting and the stories were very good.  Then came an episode when the heroine and hero were both in a perilous situation and it looked like they might be killed.  I waited for the next episode.  It did not come.  I thought I missed it so I shrugged and got on with other things, watched and read other stories.

Then the TV channel decided to run the series again giving me a chance to catch up with episodes I had missed.  When it came to that last episode I knew what was to happen so I skipped it and eagerly waited for the next.  It did not come.

I googled the programme name, “The Agency” and found out that the episode was the last in the series.  The TV Company had decided to axe it.  I deduced that the writers wrote the ending hoping that there would be such a clamour from the public wanting to know what had happened it would return for another season.  This is not without precedent.  Conan Doyle had tried to kill off Sherlock Holmes but such was the outcry and demand that he lived on.  It may be that the writers of The Agency thought the Company would ask them to make more episodes but the way commerce works means that this did not happen.

So I was left with what I thought was an unsatisfactory ending.  Many of us readers, listeners and watchers have experienced this.  A classic example can be heard in an old Tony Hancock sketch called the Last Page in which the final page of a paperback “Whodunit” was missing.  Only yesterday on Radio 4 I heard that Hemmingway was so undecided about the conclusion to “A Farewell to Arms” he wrote forty-seven different endings.

Recently, a friend commenting on my novel “Victim of Compromise” told me he liked it but found the ending unsatisfactory.  I thought about what he had said and mused whether I should have made the ending more of a climax.  However, I felt that the story had reached an appropriate conclusion whether satisfactory or not.

No one really likes endings.  It is the story that matters.  A good story means that everyone wants to know what happens next and that is the way it is with life.



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