I’ve always wondered how Breaking Bad managed to get away with so many cliffhanger episode endings AND leave us with a feeling of completeness at the same time.
After re-watching the series for the second time, I think I have the answer: closure.
When I first started writing my Long-Suffering Manuscript, I thought closure was only possible at the end of the story, after the protagonist defeated the antagonist, reclaimed lost turf, reconciled with loved ones, etc, but that’s not true at all.
Watching Walter White transform in each episode, however minutely, has taught me an important writing lesson:
closure should be present throughout your book, not just at the end
And this is especially important if said book contains a cliffhanger in every other chapter.
Using the pilot episode as an example, I break down this Closure Within A Cliffhanger idea, identify how episodic closure is established by the show’s writers, and why I’m now looking for more ways to insert closure into my chapters and scenes.
My main takeaway:
Closure = Understanding + Transformation
Closure does not mean getting rid of a problem
It simply means your protagonist has transformed because of the problem, and we, as readers, viewers, and audiences, can understand the protagonist and his/her situation better.
At the end of the day, if you’re not rewarding your readers with occasional moments of closure, then they’ll feel like they’re wasting their time by investing in your book. By saturating each narrative milestone with closure, you’ll create a more enjoyable reading experience.
Millie’s Note: What are your thoughts about closure in fiction? Can closure and cliffhangers co-exist?