Not everything I plan to post here is going to be directly related to my work, but rather just thoughts on publishing, and writing in general, or even just thoughts on life, the universe and everything (R.I.P. Mr Adams).
I was contemplating the lengths people go to not to know what happens in a story. So much so that it occurred to me that I could very well get no end of static from people that the blurb for Ready or Not leaves little to the imagination as to whether or not Lauren and Salencia’s relationship continues through to the end of the first book.
I sincerely can’t understand this. Who can pick up a love story and not see the couple together through the end? Who watches The Princess Bride and doesn’t know, beyond all doubt, that Westley and Buttercup wind up together, even though Westley is dead within ten minutes of the movie starting? Who was surprised to learn The Man in Black is Westley (is this where I should have said “Spoiler Alert!”, oops)? Who is surprised when Westley dies again later and Miracle Max brings him back (err … spoiler alert?)?
The duty of a story teller is to draw you in, to encompass your mind such that, as you’re reading, you can just believe that, THIS time he won’t reach the top, that THIS time Inigo wins the duel, or that he DOESN’T outthink a Sicilian when DEATH is on the line. At the same time, the story teller has the duty to serve poetic and narrative justice. When Westley dies, you feel like the young Mr Savage and decry injustice! Foul! It simply cannot be! Westley must only be faking. When you violate that trust you must do so carefully, you must have Miracle Max and his pill. Not to do so is the injustice.
Dramatic tension should not be the mystery of what is to come. If that were the case we could never re-enjoy a work. We’d never read The Hobbit twice. We’d never pick up Princess of Mars after that first trip to the great red globe with John Carter. Never a second glance to Harry Potter: and the Sorcerer’s Stone. And, I think, the world would be far the poorer for it.
That is not to say that a mind-blowing, world shattering, awe inspiring twist isn’t a good thing. Isn’t something worth keeping hush hush, and letting be a surprise. Ask any good mystery or thriller writer and fan about that. It’s something that certainly has its place and purpose in fiction, and all genres can use it to some degree of good. Still, it should be the spice, the seasoning of a fiction. Like with food, sometimes spice is a major component – Indian or Thai? – and the mind boggling twist is a full-fledged trope of Thrillers/Mysteries, and they’d be not half as amazing without it.
In regards to myself, Now & Forever is a slice of life romantic comedy. A good ol’ fashioned happily ever after love story. I will not apologise if I’ve spoiled anything for you by saying so. If one hasn’t realised that early on then for that I am sorry either for my failure as a writer or the failure of those who taught you to read. The fun of such stories isn’t will they live happily ever after! It is how do they live happily ever after. You can see the destination coming from 12 parsecs away, but the journey, oh the journey is where the adventure is.
Maybe you agree, maybe you think I’m so full of shit I could singlehandedly stop a crop failure in Ethiopia. We’re all entitled to opinions. Mine is based on observation of those works I personally enjoy and the works that, regardless what I think of them, clearly stand the test of time by appealing very potently to many people. Simply put, they’re re-readable, re-watchable, re-listenable. They’re stories very rich in imagination, the characters have charm and you forget the world for a moment and are sucked into another time and another place and, for those pages or minutes or hours you are riding beside Bilbo Baggins as he crosses the mountains with the dwarves, or watching the epic duel between Inigo and Westley, or slaying great beasts with heroes of ancient legends as the bards paint a tapestry of words and song upon your mind.
Food for thought.
Love to All