The Simple and the Complex

Farmington, New Mexico, March 20, 2015
Farmington, New Mexico, March 20, 2015

I was just sitting here contemplating a couple of my stories and how I could improve them before I send them out for publication once again, when something occurred to me.  At the moment I was thinking about what makes a satisfactory ending to a story for the general public.  A story can be either simple or complex (in characterization, plot, backstory, all of the aforementioned, or whatever) and it can have either a simple or complex ending.  How they are paired determines how the reader emotionally and intellectually responds to the story.

A simple story with a simple ending is probably the least satisfactory type of story.  It is no challenge to most people and is not likely to stimulate interest.  It is boring.

A simple story with a complex ending is probably not entertaining or satisfactory to most people, but it will stimulate the interest of a few.   Not many people like or tolerate complex solutions to simple problems.

A complex story with a complex ending is satisfactory to some people, i.e. those intellectuals or faux intellectuals who enjoy complex matters, but these won’t be the majority.

A complex story with a simple denouement is probably the most satisfactory to most people.  It stimulates the mind and enlightens the reader, helping him/her to see reality or the problems of reality in a new light.  I have written often about a reader enjoying the vicarious experience of a story.  It is the same with a complex story with a simple ending.   The reader experiences the story vicariously; he/she feels the vicarious joy of having solved the problem along with the protagonist and any other characters accompanying the protagonist through the story.

Anyway, that’s my tirade for the night.

Thoughts?  Comments?