Endings. Should they be conclusive or ambiguous?

by Todd Foley

“I look for ambiguity when I’m writing because life is ambiguous.”
― Keith Richards

I wrote a post awhile back about the power of the final words in a film/book, which generated some great conversation.

But what about endings that end before we find out how

[Yes, that was intentional.]

Sometimes we find ourselves shocked that the story has ended and are left trying to piece together all the previous points in the story. Will that relationship be reconciled? What will be the outcome of that conflict? Where is John Doe driving to?

“To learn which questions are unanswerable, and not to answer them: This skill is most needful in times of stress and darkness.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin

This frustrates some audiences but fascinates others. I’m of the latter. I view stories as snapshots of a much larger narrative. Other people view stories as beacons of hope that should provide some conclusiveness in the midst of our often non-conclusive world.

What say you? Are ambiguous endings brilliant? Manipulative? Rich? Cheap?

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