Watson likely stories

Narrative satisfactions

katekat1010 points us to this essay by Wax Banks on "What you want, what you need: fans and endings, and narrative satisfactions". This essay discusses the end of Angel, the end of Buffy, fan demands for continuation, and the continuation in the comics. As we all know, what readers/viewers/fans demand and what they secretly need are two different things. The job of the writer is to satisfy the unconscious needs.

The essay covers, among other things, the reason that Whedon had to, er, do what he did before the final battle in Serenity: the need to create the belief that maybe things won't work out this time. Maybe it'll be different this time. Eek.

Two points that caught my attention:
Complex storytelling increases the variety of ways that the audience can be satisfied, combines audience desires in new or untraceable ways, and (often) ends the story with still-suspended desires held in tension against those that've been satisfied.
So what makes an enjoyable story? That's the thing: tons of stuff. We dig allusion, momentum, rhetorical cleverness, sonority, relatability, simplicity, comfort, thrills, critical insight. The best stories, I think, combine a number of these pleasures and play them off one another.
Well. Let's see if I can make some tiny fraction of this happen in my spring_with_xan story. I wrote a story plan for it last night. I think I need to crank up the stakes considerably somehow. Hmm! Though if Mr Pedia is right, many fans are here for the prawn and consider it all wasted verbiage.
  • Current Music: Shipwrecked (Sean Tyas Remix) : Mike Foyle : Armada Trance, Vol. 1
Yes, many fans are here for the prawn and reward that no matter what. OTOH, I find that while my pure smut fics get a rapid and positive response, it's the deeper ones that get feedback not just days but weeks, months, even years later.

Not only do they get longer-lasting feedback, the ones I put the extra effort into are the ones I'm proudest of. They're the ones I can point to and say 'see; it's not just making characters fuck randomly'. Some of it really is about exploring issues and building strong writing skills.

In the short run, it sometimes can feel as though all that effort was wasted, yes. But in the long run, it isn't. Not by any means.
Yeah: that's the benefit of giving readers what they need, and not what they think they want. The satisfaction is deep & lasting with those stories.
giving readers what they need, and not what they think they want

Please remember that the above quote was the rationale provided by Joss Whedon for seasons six and seven of Buffy.
Well, it can be a true statement, and a writer can screw up on the implementation. E.g., seasons 6 & 7 of Buffy.

Think about Jenny's death in "Passion". Is this what we want for Giles? For Jenny herself? The agony of watching him read a note he thinks is from her, pick up a bottle of champagne and head upstairs thinking he's going to be with her at last: this is not what we want to give Giles. But it's an ultimately satisfying tv experience.

Or season 5 of Angel, which was not a walk in the park if what I read about it is accurate.

Pure wish fulfillment is like candy. Tastes great for a while. Makes you sick eventually. My job as a writer is to make my characters earn their happy endings.
And apropos of nothing, I thought I'd say that the other Wenchie story I read and re-read is "The Hogs Beneath the Skin". And I just went for another read. 'Cause, well, it makes me feel better. But not in a wish-fulfillment sort of way. It's charming and funny and wistful.

Plus I love Flanders & Swann.
Yowza!!!!! We were just talking about the Idea of Satisfaction - this is a great resource! Thanks for posting it...

*scampers off to read*
Yeah, that's a neat essay. And the guy who wrote it seems to be a big Buffy fan, though not involved in fandom directly.