Wanting to know how fiction ends

Why do we have an impulse to know how compelling fiction ends?

FICTION CAN GO IN ANY NUMBER OF DIRECTIONS

I have often thought it’s a bit silly.

The story is made up anyway. It can go in a number of widely different directions.

It’s easy to imagine alternate endings that the author plausibly could have chosen. The reason the author landed on a particular ending may be because ofpersonal fascination, wanting to subvert expectations, wanting to draw in an audience, wanting to highlight a particular feature of human life, setting it up for the next part, practical or resource reasons, or something else.

Sometimes, the ending we looked forward to can even be disappointing, as we have seen in a recent TV series (GoT) and final movie trilogy (SW).

If this was the whole picture, there would be little or no reason to want to know how a story ends. So there must be something more going on.

EVOLUTIONARY IMPULSE TO TAKE IN STORIES

One answer may be in evolution. We have likely evolved to be fascinated by stories since these told our ancestors something important about themselves, their community, and their world. Stories gave them a survival advantage.

It’s easy to see how this is the case with stories from real life. The way the story is told reflects community values and orientations, so the listener gets to absorb these. And the content can offer practical information about social interactions, interactions with nature and wildlife, how to deal with unusual events that may return, and so on.

To some extent, fiction – mythology, fairy tales, tall tales – did the same. Fiction also conveyed cultural values and orientations. It gave people insights into interactions within the community and with outsiders and the natural world, and so on.

And it’s easy to see that the ending is an important part of the value of all of these stories.

Taking in compelling stories, from beginning to end, gave our ancestors a survival advantage.

GOOD FICTION REFLECTS DEEPER TRUTHS

There is an obvious value in stories from real life. We learn through the experience of others and how they chose to tell the stories.

And compelling fiction does the same, in a heightened form. Good fiction distills the essence out of real-life stories and reflects universal human truths. They are a way for us to learn something essential about ourselves, others, and the world.

NO CLEAR LINE BETWEEN STORIES FROM REAL LIFE AND FICTION

There is a fuzzy boundary between stories from real life and fiction.

When we tell stories from real life, we inevitably interpret, filter, highlight, leave out, and get things wrong. The story reflects us and what we find important, our worldview and values, our hangups and limitations, and so on. As we know, these stories are often told quite differently by others.

And compelling fiction reflects universal human dynamics and insights and has a deeper truth.

There is always an element of fiction in stories from real life, and elements of real life in fiction.

WHY DO WE WANT TO KNOW THE ENDING?

So why do we want to know the ending of fiction? Even if it’s obviously silly since the story is made up anyway?

One answer may be evolution. It gave our ancestors a survival advantage to take in stories, told by others in their community, from beginning to end.

P.S. Sorry for the lack of simplicity and clarity here. I have had a quite strong brain fog for a few weeks, and it makes it difficult to write with flow and clarity. Hopefully, I can return and clean this up a bit.

INITIAL DRAFT

I find it interesting that many want to know how fiction stories end, after starting to take in a compelling story whether it’s a book, movie, TV series, or another format.

On the surface, it seems a bit silly. The story is made up anyway. It can go in any number of directions depending on what the author chooses. And the author chooses the ending for a number of possible reasons, whether it’s personal fascination, wanting to subvert expectations, wanting to draw in an audience, or something else.

A surface answer is that we may mix up fiction and reality. It’s important to know something about how stories from real life end since we may learn something. And with fiction, the specific ending is perhaps less important.

A deeper answer is that good fiction stories reflect some universal human truth, and they are a way for us to learn about ourselves, others, and the world. There is likely an evolutionary drive in us to seek out and take in stories – whether fiction or from real life – for just that reason.

There is, of course, not such a clean line between stories from real life and fiction. Stories from real life are told by someone and they interpret, filter, reflect a certain worldview, leave out some of the messiness of life, may get things wrong, may be told quite differently by others, and so on. And good fiction reflects universal human dynamics and insights and has a deeper truth.

There is always an element of fiction in stories from real life, and elements of real life in fiction.

….

It seems an almost universal impulse want to know how fiction stories end, after starting to take in a compelling story.

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After we have started to take in a compelling fiction story, why do many of us have an urge to know how it ends?

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DRAFT 2

Why do we want to know how compelling fiction ends?

Why is this an almost universal impulse?

FICTION STORIES CAN GO ANY NUMBER OF DIRECTIONS

On the surface, it seems a bit silly.

The story is made up anyway. It can go in any number of directions depending on what the author chooses.

The author chooses the ending for a number of possible reasons, whether it’s personal fascination, wanting to subvert expectations, wanting to draw in an audience, setting it up for the next part, or something else.

Sometimes, the ending can even be disappointing, as we saw with the Game of Thrones series and the final Star Wars trilogy.

EVOLUTIONARY IMPULSE TO TAKE IN STORIES

One answer may be in evolution. We have likely evolved to be fascinated by stories since these, traditionally, told us something important about ourselves, our community, and our world.

Many of these were stories from real life, and an evolutionary impulse to know the ending makes sense since it contains vital information to learn from.

That evolutionary impulse to know the ending may apply to fiction as well. The impulse seems to generalize to all kinds of stories, as long as they are compelling for us.

Taking in compelling stories, from beginning to end, gave our ancestors a survival advantage.

GOOD FICTION REFLECTS DEEPER TRUTHS

The stories our ancestors told each other were some from real life (including gossip) and some mythology, fairy tales, and tall tales.

There is an obvious value in stories from real life. We can learn something through the experiences of others.

And we can also learn something from fictin. Good fiction often reflect universal human truths. They are also a way for us to learn about ourselves, others, and the world.

NO CLEAR LINE BETWEEN STORIES FROM REAL LIFE AND FICTION

There is, of course, not such a clean line between stories from real life and fiction. Stories from real life are told by someone and they interpret, filter, reflect a certain worldview, leave out some of the messiness of life, may get things wrong, may be told quite differently by others, and so on. And good fiction reflects universal human dynamics and insights and has a deeper truth.

There is always an element of fiction in stories from real life, and elements of real life in fiction.

…..
…..
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Stories from real life are told by someone who inevitably interprets, filters, leaves out some of the messiness of life, may get things wrong, and so on. And these stories may be told in a quite different way by others.

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