On Good Stories, Good Endings and Isaac Asimov.
Jeff Goins in his book “You are a Writer” explains that, regardless of how much you write and how good you are at it, you *are* a writer as long as you *write*. I believe there’s a certain truth in it.
First, society defines who you are by what you’re providing to it. If you’re only writing your own personal diary, your own secret stories, you will never be a writer to society, since none of your works is public. However, you’re a writer if you consider yourself one and as long as you actually write. That’s the beauty of arts, there’s no dividing line between being an artist and not being one. Everyone can recognise an artist because they call themselves artists, usually blatantly.
I say this because as a Writer I’ve come to create my own style, as everyone doing something repeatedly eventually discovers. I have yet to write so much as to truly define my style, but a big part of it comes from what I like in the stories I read. I’ve read a lot of stories, and the type of endings I enjoy the most are the ones that give you give you answers while leaving you hanging. Is the answer you found really *the* answer? Is there more to it?
This is an idea I’ve used in my short stories a lot and in my articles as well. It’s not exactly that I’m trying to get to that ending specifically, or that I create the stories in a way that will allow me to come to such endings, the stories just write themselves that way, it’s how I write and how I love to my endings to be and so they materialize as I dig through the field of storytelling.
We understand ourselves better than anyone else, and yet there might be corners of mystery within ourselves that we can’t light up before finding certain truths. Often these crucial truths lye outside of ourselves and come in the form of wisdom dispensed by others.
There’s an idea, a way of thinking perhaps that in my opinion has great truth in it, the idea is simple: nothing we discover, understand or believe in was truly found, understood or believed by us as individuals, but they came from others and found a home in us. Inspired artists might create something that seems truly unique, but maybe such inspiration has roots in previous works of art the creator was in contact with, and in part, whoever realised that previous work was able to do so by being influenced by other ideas from other artists.
This doesn’t apply only to the arts, but to philosophy, science, and all aspects of life. How could Plato write his quintessential dialogues without being inspired by Socrates way of life? Aristotle was, in turn, Plato’s student.
Many others down the line of history have been great philosophers, each one of them building on top of what had already been said, sharpening the Forms.
I’m currently reading some of Asimov’s short stories and they are as superb as all of Asimov writings are in my experience. Isaac Asimov is probably my favourite author, even though his stories haven’t evoked as much emotion in me as Frank Herbert’s “Dune” trilogy or Orson Scott’s “Ender’s Game” saga, both of which are the most amazing stories.
Asimov stories move me differently as if he’s writing *to me* rather than me reading his writings. As if he’s a friend sharing his stories with me. I’m not sure why this is, maybe I’m Asimov son-of-the-heart, maybe his ideas resonate with my own way of thinking. I feel somewhat identified with who he was, even though I know little of his life.
The last short story I read enlighted me. The “Breeds There A Man … ?" short story discusses the idea that in the same way we cultivate bacteria on a laboratory to experiment with it, to understand it and to eventually wipe it off, we humans are in the same way just an experiment of a higher, more advanced being. Earth, along with other planets, are incubators and our wars are a way for these beings to wipe us out, to clean the experimental dish whenever we seem to get out of hand. These theories are explained by a man called Ralson, who because of his closeness to the “truth” has strong suicidal impulses. His argument is a good one: why is it that every advanced society in history meets its perish when they’re reaching the highest status? The story is great.
I believe a story is strongly defined by its ending. If the ending is good, the story is most likely good as well, regardless of how boring the journey till the end was. If an ending is terrible, the story is most likely terrible too. Regardless of how entertaining and interesting the journey to that end was, if an ending is bad it will take a toll on the quality of the story overall. We remember the endings, and they’re the hardest part of a story to create, that’s why there are so many unfinished tales.
“Breeds There A Man … ?" ends how I’d like it to end; I’d end it in the same way myself. (SPOILERS!). Ralson kills himself after working on what probably is the salvation of humanity, the constructor of such machine, even though completely sane and healthy, also kills himself that day, leaving a revealing note behind.
Such ending was written by someone who died the year I was born:
“You *believe* Ralson?” Asked Grant in horror. “I don’t really know” Blaustein looked at the stars. Incubators?