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Trying to demystify what I do

January 23, 2015
Posted at 1:28 pm

I've been getting some mail on Serendipity - Version Bravo, specifically about ending it too soon, or putting too much in the epilogue, or how the epilogue should have been the start to another book and things like that.

It never occurred to me until I got these emails that some readers might not understand my thinking process on these multiple version stories.

So, having a platform to orate on, I thought I'd try to explain that a little bit.

What happens is that I get an idea for a book and start writing it. Example: Guy's niece visits him every year in the summer starting when she's ten. He gets to see her grow up and they are very close. Things happen and Lubrican type story is born.

Then, while I'm writing that, I have the random thought of: "What if she had a couple of little hottie friends? That would change the whole dynamic.

Presto, version Bravo (or whatever) pops into existence.

Then, while writing both of those, the thought pops into my head: "What if his relationship with the hottie friends was different, and what if Mom got involved?

You can see where this is going. There could be ten versions, and I could spend years writing all the variations.

But at some point, if you don't do all ten versions, you have to leave something up to the imagination of the reader. In fact, in every offering, the reader has to provide the ultimate ending in his or her imagination, because you can never satisfy the questions or projections that thousands of different readers have.

There was a poet named John Lydgate, who lived between 1370 and 1451, and even back then he discovered something that every author knows: "You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time"."

So then, as an author, you have to decide how much to give them on the plate, and how much to leave for them to fill in in their imaginations.

That's why almost all of my books and stories end in ways that invite a sequel, at least in the reader's mind. Instead of shying away from leaving questions, I choose what questions to leave hanging.

I'm sure the professionals have other thoughts on this, and how to end a book and all that. But I believe that this is the only way I can ever actually get a book out there for the public to read. I have to cut it off somewhere, so I can get on to the next project.

If you like what I do ... and really think about it ... that's what you really want ... isn't it?

You want me to get on to the next project.

Don't squirm. I know I'm right.

And I'm sorry that the epilogue was so long. I'm not a pro at doing epilogues either. It just sounds so "literary" in my mind to use that word. Makes me feel like I'm in the big leagues.

I used to do the same thing when I was swinging a bat at a ball in the vacant lot beside the water tower where I grew up. I choked up on the bat, and everybody made fun of me. But I hit a few homers, and imagined I was in the big leagues as I ran the bases.

So even if I hold the bat wrong, and abuse some grammitical rules now and then, I hope you'll cut me some slack.

This is way too much fun to take too seriously.

Thanks for reading.