When you grow up living and breathing theatre, you hear about theatrical superstitions from the ground up – never wish anyone “good luck,” a bad dress rehearsal means a good opening night, never whistle in a theatre, never put a hat on a bed, never refer to a certain Shakespeare play by name, but rather as The Scottish Play, etc. For someone like me, though, with an active imagination, the crowning superstition is that of the Unfinished Story.
It’s a common theme in entertainment – characters enter a scenario only to be locked in until the story plays out, at which point everything ‘resets,’ and, for me at least, it’s related mostly to scary stories. I refer to unfinished from the reader’s perspective, in this, and not the writer’s, though the corresponding writerly superstition would be “talk about it and the story dies.”
But I digress.
There’s a kind of power in a tale that hasn’t ended. Until you get to the ending, you don’t know if the vampire will be dusted, or the war will be averted, or the lovers will reunite, and if you’re me, and read a lot of scary stories, and have an imagination that runs away with you, you NEED to know how things end.
Case in point. I recently read a novel called Fangland, which I mentioned here, I think, was so creepy I had to read it in daylight. It was the kind of story that lingered in my mind, whispering at me as if walls between reality and fiction had grown thin, and the whispers didn’t cease, couldn’t cease, until I’d read the tale to the end, and the resolution had been accepted.
So, that’s my superstition: Stories must never be left unfinished.