Tip [#11] Don’t Forget the Man in the Basement
This may be one of the most important tips in the series.
I recently watched an episode of one of my favorite new TV shows, NBC’s Grimm. During the show, the antagonist/villain captured, tortured and held an innocent man captive in his basement. (He didn’t know the man was innocent. He just wanted to go vigilante on whoever murdered his brother.) As the show progressed, the viewer realizes the antagonist/villain has the wrong person in captivity and anticipates the innocent man’s release from the evil villain.
Unfortunately, the episode ends after the antagonist/villain is captured and taken into custody. However, it is never revealed what happened to the man in the basement. The villain held the man in his basement, but the villain was caught in the woods. Nothing was said of the poor, tortured man who was still stuck in the basement, and I was greatly disappointed. I was looking forward to police ransacking the villain’s house and discovering the man in the basement. I’d pictured him running to his girlfriend and they’d be reunited. She’d been grief-stricken throughout the episode because she didn’t know if he were dead or alive.
However, as writers, especially new or aspiring writers, we cannot do this. You must carefully wrap up all loose ends and answer previously unanswered questions–unless you’re writing a sequel. Even then, you can’t leave readers hanging too much.
Readers are nosy. They want to know all of the details of the characters’ lives.
So give it them.
Think about all of the points you’re trying to convey. Consider the plot and conflict happening throughout the story. Wrap them up. Settle things.
- Wasn’t the dog in the pound in chapter five? Was it get euthanized? Did it get adopted?
- The ex-girlfriend walked in and found the man in bed with another woman on page seventy-nine. Whatever happened to the other woman? Did they fight? Did she get killed? Is she buried in the back yard?
- The little boy walked onto the alien spaceship and the whole town searched for him throughout the story. Do we ever find out what happened to the little boy? Does his family mourn forever?
The point is, don’t get so wrapped up in writing the beginning, middle and the end, that you forget the points that will leave the reader asking “What the heck happened to the man in the basement?”