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Should you support the aftermath of every single supporting characters after the main conflict is resolved?

Not exploring the aftermath of supporting characters can be seen as a mistake to avoid when writing a story. The aftermath of the main conflict can have a significant impact on supporting characters. Neglecting to explore how they cope, heal, or move forward after the resolution can leave their storylines incomplete.

My question is whether I should do that for every supporting character and if not, how do you go about choosing which characters deserve such attention from the writer. Should you do it for all characters at the same time and do it as briefly as possible or doing so is as bad as not exploring the aftermath for any supporting character?

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  • Isn't it rather old-fashioned (like a Victorian novel) to end a story with 'what happened to all the characters'? Commented Jun 30, 2023 at 7:32

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A light hand with aftermath is usually wisest. After all, the climax is over, and this is just cleaning things up. (And you never know, you might have an idea for a sequel. You don't want to preclude it too hard.)

One thing is looking for ways to convey as much as possible in a few scenes as possible. A reunion a year after the climax, where several minor characters have wed, and one couple is carrying about a newborn while everyone brushes on their subsequent careers, can cover a lot of ground.

Another thing is that a lot can be implied rather than stated. I read a work where the last scene had a main character going somewhere to rejoin his beloved, and another character deciding to try it. Then there was a birth announcement, with the main character and his beloved as the parents, and attending doctor, by her last name, had married the other character.

Important points are that aftermaths that resonate with the main story line, and that clear up burning questions about what happened to interesting minor characters whose fates would otherwise leave the reader dissatisfied. (Sometimes beta readers are needed for the later.)

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I hardly talk about aftermath at all.

In one of my stories, in the finale the hero is attacked by traitors intent upon killing her, people that manipulated her and that she trusted with her life -- because she is about to ruin their plot.

Between her and her older mentor, they are able to kill them all, but he is fatally stabbed -- but not, she cuts him open and saves him, until help arrives.

In the aftermath, after the dust settled, she has figured out the secret her mentor has been keeping from her for the whole story. And why he didn't want her to know it.

She forgives him. There is just one scene, about five pages, dealing with the rest of the aftermath. The rebuilding that must be done, the new leadership of her group, etc.

Once the central questions are answered, get out quickly. All that you should be writing about is answers, not raising interest in a different story.

It is much like TV or Movies in this respect; they end very quickly after the main conflict is resolved. Quick scenes that answer questions and raise no new questions. 10 seconds for a funeral scene. Scenes with 2 or 3 lines.

I wouldn't spend even a page on each resolution, just a few hundred words is enough.

I think the only exception is if you know there is a sequel, you might want to set that up and raise a new question. But as far as tying up loose ends, tie them up fast.

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