Unfinished Stories

Lots of times I get led down the rabbit hole. My brain just operates that way. I’ll be doing something normal, and then anything around me can spark my mind to remember something – a story, a book, a movie or a moment in a television show. It takes over, and I find myself looking to that bit of story that I remember in order to revisit it.

Most times said story is in my house somewhere. My shelves are crammed, though I’m making good headway of cleaning out the books I’ll never actually read.

But, this time, I was brought back to a story that sadly never got an ending.

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A few days ago, I discovered the western genre. It’s funny that I am just discovering it now, because it has existed for decades. But, I picked up a paperback book at the store and have been in love with it ever since. So, needless to say, I’ve been trying to hunt down other books in various western series since then. All this searching brought me back to a great western that I read as a kid in high school, and that series is Priest by Min-Woo Hyung.

If anyone knows Priest, they know that it is a manga, or manwah in this case. This story follows a priest named Ivan Isaacs, a man who has sold half of his sole to the demon Belial in order to exact revenge on a group of twelve of Satan’s apostles for the sacrifice of his childhood love. These evil apostles are hijacking the construction of the western railroad to convert the entire population into undead minions of Hell. Many gunfights and masterful action sequences follow.

Sounds like an epic story, doesn’t it?

I was captivated by the art style and the scope of this western as a child. It terrified me, obviously, because it was horror. But, it did something else as well. It caused me to question my beliefs, which is something that masterful fiction does. Now, it didn’t sway my religion very far, but it had me asking questions and seeing issues through the eyes of the many characters. What does a fallen angel feel? How about that part of us inside that seeks revenge, even when we know it will be a failure?

Min-Woo Hyung had a way of keeping my interest, and the series went on for sixteen volumes.

However, something tragic happened. One day, Hyung decided to abandon his series because he didn’t feel like writing and drawing it any more.

What?

I was in disbelief. How could this artist just abandon a work that was so popular and so beloved, when the characters had just arrived for one of the largest showdowns ever?

No matter what I thought, Hyung had taken our money and our time and then jumped ship. For those who fear that George RR Martin will die before he finished A Song of Ice and Fire, I have to say, be grateful that the man is still alive and dedicated to his series. In this case, Hyung was a young man – only in his thirties – when he threw in the towel and started a new series that has yet to make it to the States.

I was crushed.

These were characters I’d come to love. Now they were all stuck in limbo, presumably forever.

That is one of the greatest sins that a published writer can commit: Starting a series and never finishing it out of boredom.

It is my belief that when an author publishes a work, they have a commitment to finish the story they started. If Hyung were to release the seventeenth volume of his masterwork tomorrow, I would be first in line to buy it. Once a reader becomes invested in your series, it is up to you to deliver the ending you had in mind – and have an ending in mind.

As far as recommending Priest to others, I’ll happily tell them to read it if they can find a copy. But, I will always have to precursor my recommendation that the series does not have an ending.

If you are starting out on a series right now, planning it out on paper, I urge you to make sure that you can finish what you start. If that means holding off on publishing until all the books in your series are done (in the case of self-publishing) then do what you have to. You owe it to your readership to have an ending, and deliver that ending. There is nothing worse than knowing I started a journey with Ivan Isaacs all those years ago, only to have him stuck in a freeze frame in my imagination, with only half of Temozarela’s minions under his belt.

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