I won’t lie, I decided to address this conundrum because of my own aching heart. Whether it’s a great book or a riveting series on Netflix, when the story ends it leaves my mind reeling. I have trouble focusing on anything other than what my characters are doing in that moment. I feel ridiculous, but something in me won’t move on until I’ve processed the end. It’s like I have to grieve. Why is that?
There are a number of reasons a story teller ends the tale. First, the hero may be done with his or her heroics, and without the thrill of adventure there might not be much to tell. But, if we’re honest, we want to know about the rest of the character’s life, even if it’s boring or mundane. We want our favorite characters to exist, somehow, someway. I would love to read about Elizabeth Darcy playing in the yard with the kids, or how she tries to avoid another visit from one of her little sisters.
A second reason the story ends is a lack of resourses. A book deal may only be made for three novels or an author’s inspiration is sparked for another character’s story. Regardless if the resource is money or creativity, some tales fall by the wayside. This tragedy doesn’t happen in the book world as much as it does in television and movies. I think of all the promoted shows that don’t make it past season one or the movies with cliffhanger endings that leave me dangling. When the almighty dollar isn’t made, the series is dropped and we all freefall.
Finally, I may experience serious story-hangover if my favorite character is killed off. The author may believe the best way to end an era is to literally end the character’s life. I hate when this happens. At least with the previous two endings I can still imagine where the characters are and what they’d be doing. If the story teller buries the character I’m left at the gravesite bawling my eyes out, left with no hope. (I sound so sappy!)
So, how do you get over your story or character hangover? I have a few suggestions.
#1 Jump directly into the next book. Feeding your addiction might not be the best option, but finding new characters to love is a great way to forget the old ones (or at the very least distract you).
#2 Wallow in the hangover. Grieving is a process, so why not embrace it? You could join a book club and talk it out with other readers, write your own fan fiction, or create a Pinterest board dedicated to your favorite characters. Authors love it when readers pay tribute to their stories with fan art!
#3 Detox. A story/character detox works best when you make a clean break from reading/watching altogether. The temptation to search IMDB, Wikipedia, or the author’s blog will be overwhelming, but you have to fight it. Discover a new hobby, like crocheting or exercise, and place all of your attention on it. Soon, the curiosity will subside, but I’m not sure it will ever disolve completely.
I’d love to know how you handle a story hangover! Leave your thoughts in the comments for me and other readers.