I loved the show Lost. I loved that it ended without answering all the questions or explicating itself. What I really loved about the ending was the way it mirrored the opening sequence: Jack in the bamboo, eye opening in the first episode, closing in the second. Vincent runs by in the opening, and snuggles in with Jack at the end. There’s the shoe caught in the bamboo. In a show about circles and mirrors and time folding in on itself, this ending makes perfect sense.
Another favorite series ending is that of Homicide: Life on the Street, one of my all time favorite shows. The closing dialog is the exact same as the opening. Another circle, this one exact! And once again it totally fits the show. The characters may try to grow and change, but they are existing in the world of crime, where each case can blend into one another relentlessly.
People often ask writers if they are plotters or pantsers. I hate the term pantsers. I imagine people running around pulling down each other’s pants. Alas, I am not a plotter, so what else can I call myself? I like to think of it as following the story where it goes. Usually, though, I have the end in site, whether it’s a final scene or a final line.
I knew where Secrets was going to end — at a place where it could be called a happy ending. Actually, Happy Ending was one of the working titles. I knew that I wanted the last line to be: “But I’ll stop here because, just like Owen, I want a happy ending.” Likewise, I have the final line for something I’m working on now. I think it helps to know where you are going so you know what moments need emphasis in order for that moment to resonate.
And yes, getting back to Lost, I do believe that J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof knew where they were going. I’m a big geek for this show, and I’ve gone back and watched the two-part pilot again, and you can see them dropping hints. And if I had to guess, I’d say they were plotters who also let themselves follow story lines off into tangents. Maybe they didn’t tie it all up with little bows, but that’s okay with me. Life (or death or purgatory) just doesn’t work that way — so why should fiction?