|Of course Sam was going to return at the end of|
|"Scarecrow"--it's still satisfying to see him do it.|
3. There is a decent pay-off.
Artsy types may try to convince readers that nothing needs to end because life doesn't end and resolutions are too simplistic, blah blah blah. I tried to argue that myself at one point.
A good narrative has a good pay-off. A great narrative has a great pay-off.
Great pay-off does not mean "surprise". Sometimes, the surprise pay-off does work. Agatha Christie knocked that type of ending (you thought the murderer was X but really it was Z) out of the park.
But surprise for the sake of surprise can get irritating after awhile. It truly is okay to give the reader/viewer the expected ending--the couple runs towards each other with hands outstretched; the child is returned to his or her parents; the underdog wins the fight/gets the good grade/finds a new planet; Sam and Dean get back together . . .
Readers and viewers love this stuff! I love this stuff! I like it even more when it makes sense, dovetails with previous information, delivers that warm glow of "a ha" or "I knew it!" or "thank goodness."
*Spoiler.* Regarding light novels, the end of S makes perfect sense, specifically Godou's confession. Yeah, sure, we all knew he was responsible for Shiiba's sister's death. However, the way in which he acknowledges it and how that information matches what we previously learned about the character--is perfect.
With manga short stories, the rather odd but engaging "When 'Lie' is Read 'T-r-u-t-h'" at the end of Rabbit Man, Tiger Man, Volume 1--in which the action switches back to the young prodigy imagining his (accurate) future with his mentor--delivers a cute, more sweet than bitter twist. The middle story to Wild Rock--in my opinion, a far better story than the volume's title story--is Romeo and Juliet for grown-ups. The protagonists don't die; they return to their clans and take up their roles as chiefs. While the short story "That's All From Me" by Yugi Yamada, which revolves around the game Go, shows us two protagonists acknowledging their attraction in a typically roundabout way (typical for the protagonists, that is).
A powerful short story is like a piece of exceptionally good chocolate--it may not be as filling or as reliable as a full Hershey's Bar (and I love Hershey's). But it delivers a wallop of memorable "wow" satisfaction.