Jebaiting the audience.

The other day I was just thinking to myself, what makes a story memorable? For me, it’s usually the ones with the most interesting endings. When the conclusion feels like it came out of nowhere, but it really wasn’t – I just wasn’t paying enough attention.

On the other hand, not every story needs to be The Village (remember those What a Twist! skits in Robot Chicken?). They only need to be interesting to me (I included the caveat because what I find interesting might not be to someone else and vice versa – but now when I think about it, that applies to anything creative, so I don’t think I need to mention it in the first place. I digress).

When a story kicks off, it’s meant to draw you in. There are many ways to do this – you could start off in the midst of a high-tension scene (Bullets flew past my head as I dove headfirst into a pile of trash, but what greeted me was worse than the bullets I was avoiding), or a vague quote that entices the audience to continue reading (Sometimes I ponder the meaning of bukkake armpit pickles), perhaps a click bait title (How to Make Money Without Lifting a Finger) – the possibilities are endless.

Once you’ve got them hooked, the next part would be to keep them interested all the way until the end. This part is usually easier than starting or ending (at least in my opinion). Because the story hasn’t come to a conclusion, you have space and time to open and close new or existing threads to keep readers invested – they’ve already gone beyond the intro at that point, so they’ll continue until the end. Unless you purposely write something terrible to turn them off.

Now comes the hard part – an ending that’s sensible yet unpredictable, and not abrupt unless that’s what you’re going for. It can come to an end right after a climactic conclusion, or the story can let the reader down slowly – winding down gradually until the reader is satisfied. Maybe there will be hints to a sequel, prequel, or a spin-off. Maybe the ending could be interpreted differently. Whatever it is, if it leads to discussion, it’s probably a good ending (unless the topic is about looking for plot holes).

A good story will leave you satisfied, like a bowl of good prawn mee (and this is where this story falls apart because I’m horrible at describing how tasty food is). Unlike me, Uncle Keong gets it right – he spins a good tale from start to finish. From the dish’s mouth-watering appearance that draws you in at the beginning, to its perfectly cooked noodles which keep you wanting more, and the delicious residue of prawns, onions and chili at the bottom of the soup – you’ll be satisfied when you reach the bowl’s conclusion.

If I could, I’d give this place a Michelin star, then again, those stars are overrated and would only draw a crowd I don’t want to this place. Thanks to my limited readership, this won’t be a problem. The next time you’re looking for some prawn noodles in Taman Desa, look no further.

Heaven in a bowl

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