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The perils of ending a story

March 20, 2008
Posted at 3:19 pm

This is just a little info for those of you who are interested in the frustrations and perils of being an author. I can tell you about this now because the story I'm going to reference is winding down.

When I decided to write "The Making of a Gigolo", the story I had in mind had five books. Bobby Dalton was "supposed" to start with Tilly Johnson and work his way up to Felicity Chumley. Then she was going to introduce him to a bunch of her rich friends ... kind of pimp him out, so to speak, as a favor to him and, in her mind, to her friends. He was supposed to knock his sisters up along the way, learning how to please women.

Thus the title.

It was also supposed to be a series that lasted two months, tops. I had a whole bunch of other projects lined up, and a contest to enter and so on and so forth.

Of course, as usual, some of the characters, including Bobby, decided my original idea was a pile of manure. Bobby didn't want to BE a gigolo. Felicity wasn't so hot on being a pimp, or pimpette, or whatever you call someone who was supposed to turn her buddies onto him. Some of you may remember my motto: Casual, meaningless sex is nothing more than complicated masturbation. I suspect that had something to do with the way the characters morphed into who they became.

But you can't change the title of a series five stories into it. And, Bobby kind of liked making it with all these women, and urged me to let him live a little longer. And you folks were having a good time too, and I like it when you have a good time.

So, with the original idea out the window - Bobby became the antithisis of a gigolo. Technically, he was paid for sex a few times, so technically, he was a gigolo, in terms of the dictionary definition. Most of us have certain things in mind when we think "gigolo" or "prostitute". We dehumanize these kinds of people and they become stereotypes.

Stereotypes are rarely of any real use in real relationships. They help us classify people, but that's not always helpful either. So I decided to have some fun making Bobby into anything BUT a gigolo.

Most of the people who read my stuff have a romantic streak in them. I suppose I do too. But there is peril there, when a likeable male character is paired with so many likeable female characters. As the books were added, people started lobbying for Bobby to get married. Of course each woman had her own supporters.

There was some fickleness ... people who wanted him to marry Jill, until Christy came along, and then wanted him to marry her until Renee came along, and so forth.

Now that it's getting to the end, the lobbying is getting a little frantic. People are cheering on their candidate, and are using words like "pleeease" and "I couldn't take it if ..."

Of course the rub is that I knew what would happen to Bobby in the end long, long ago. All the books lead up to the planned ending. The stage has been being set for months. I've dropped little hints all over the place, and some of you picked up on those.

But that means that a bunch of people are going to be disappointed, because the ending they want is not the one I've written.

I'll tell you how agonizing this can be for an author who likes for his readers to end a story with a smile on their faces.

This one guy wrote to me and suggested that the ending should go something like this:

Bobby was tired of being alone. He thought about (names of all the women who might be potential mates) and came to a decision. He would ask her to marry him.

The End

This reader said that if that happened, he would always be able to believe that his candidate (I won't tell you who she was) was the one Bobby ended up with.

How agonizing this is for me, the author, is that I actually considered doing something like that. I even talked it about it with Peaches, my editor.

She said, and I quote: "Are you fucking INSANE?"

She has a tendency to keep me grounded, which is one reason I flirt with her so much.

Anyway, the deal is this. I'm going to go with my muse on this. That's worked for me before and I tend not to question her. She's even better than my editor in keeping me grounded. She was telling my fingers what to type when the ending got written, so I'm not going to question that.

For all you wonderful, romantic, starry-eyed readers who want so and so to end up with Bobby ... well ... it may not happen. I love you all, and I love all the potential mates for Bobby right along with you, but there can only be one ending. I could make it interactive, and write five or six endings, but that would extend this for another two months. I'm exhausted, and Peaches is exhausted.

OK, that may be overstating things a little, but we really do need to move on and do some other things so we don't get burned out.

At the same time I want to thank you all for getting so involved in the series. All of you were right, in the sense that the series could have been ended the way you wanted it to. I could have left it open ended, like that one reader suggested, but I don't think very many of you would have been satisfied with that. And Peaches probably wouldn't have spoken to me for weeks.

So there you go. I'm going to bite the bullet and drive on. If you're miffed when it's over, feel free to tell me about it.

I can live with that.

It's one of the perils of ending a story.

And thanks for reading.