When the end is not the end

In my last post, I said I was worried that people hated the ending of the A to Z story [link to beginning] posted here on my blog. If you’ve been reading the comments, you know some of us have been discussing the issue. I’ve also been discussing it privately with a few people.

Truth is, regardless of what anyone else thought, I hated that ending. Just took me a while to realize I did. And why. Here’s part of one comment I made:

“I’m honestly feeling very undecided about the whole VR thing right now. The classic Hero’s Journey begins in the normal world, adventure ensues, and ends by returning to the normal world with the character somehow changed. This story didn’t do that. It finished in a world the reader didn’t know existed. There’s a difference between a plot twist and a betrayal of story premise. After a lot of thinking, I realize the latter is what I did here.”

So, due to the power of editing, that ending no longer exists. Didn’t happen. That entire “Z” post — POOF! Gone from the book. The story does not end that way and does not happen in a VR game. Never did. It was a figment of your imagination. Or mine. Whatever.

You make mistakes, you fix them.

Not that I have anything against VR games or stories about them — I still think that’s a cool concept — but that’s not what this story is. This is a story set entirely in a world where there are dragons and magic. Period.

Interestingly enough, once I made that decision, new stories and new adventures in this world started to tumble around in my brain. In fact, even while I’m refining and fleshing out Zoey and Anton’s story, I’m having to pause occasionally to take notes about the next story pushing its way up into my consciousness. It’s pretty exciting.

But for those of you who LOVED the original ending, no problem. You can still believe that was how it ended. Just, um, maybe don’t ever read the final version I’ll be publishing. Or only read up to the last chapter or two. You’ll be fine.

As for me, lesson learned.

This is the real reason you shouldn’t write fiction, in real time, on your blog. Not because you’re worried about what people might think of your rough unedited writing. Not because people might think your unvetted ideas are ridiculous or that you’re being unprofessional and taking stupid risks. And certainly not because it makes you feel uncertain and vulnerable and afraid– those are good things for a writer to feel.

No, the real reason you shouldn’t do this is because most readers don’t realize just how drastic the editing process can be. Frankly, they shouldn’t have to. Readers get vested in a story and its characters, and that’s good. You want that to happen. Sure, you can go back and change minor details, add a few things here and there. But change the entire ending? That’s a problem.

Once you tell a story, it’s damn near impossible to convince someone it didn’t happen that way.

With that in mind, I’m going to delete most of the “Z” post over here. Not the entire thing, as I don’t want to also delete the comments, but most of the text. Believe it or not, I’m still getting new blog followers every day [hello and welcome!] and it occurs to me it might be a good idea to limit the damage to those few who have already read the story with the crappy regrettable ending. So, I’ll be doing that.

Never fear, I’m hard at work on the final version. I’ve written most of the new ending and I think it’s a vast improvement. I hope you all will agree.

Also, I have an online appointment with a cover artist in a couple weeks. She is amazingly talented and I’m excited about working with her. Except . . . we all know how well I do with anything related to arts and crafts. Probably I should hurry up and finish the story before then. In case she decides to reduce me to ashes.



Filed under Anton and Zoey, reader opinion, writing

6 responses to “When the end is not the end

  1. Merry, in the zestful zone of zen

    A — I don’t see any disappointed readers. It was a good story!
    B — You didn’t make a mistake! You made a first draft. Not the same thing. Not even remotely.
    C — I know full well you are going to go out there and revise this story until it’s even better than it is now. But you couldn’t have gotten to that point without writing this, so no. It ain’t a mistake.

    For some reason, Otto Correct thinks “ain’t” is not correct. Shows what he knows.


  2. Merry, your faith in my ability to improve this mess is gratifying. Thank you.

    I guess, maybe, probably, I should admit that my “mistake” wasn’t necessarily in writing this story in real time, because it did serve to break my creative block like nothing else had managed to do. Although I do think it wasn’t the brightest idea ever, for the reason I gave. The bigger, compounding, mistake was deciding very early on how the story ended and then sticking with that even when it should have been clear to me it wasn’t a good idea. Even though I had doubts while I was writing it. I’m very stubborn.

    But by the end I was also so flat-out exhausted, it was all I could do not to throw in a few BEARS and have them kill everyone, dead, the end. So it could have been worse.

    And in my experience, Otto ain’t always as correct as he thinks he is.


  3. I can’t wait to read the new story, all in one.

    Last night I was reading Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey. What you say, here, is how he puts it. The hero has to go full circle.


  4. Yep. That’s where I learned it, Angie. Although I think he adapted it from Joseph Campbell. Or the other way around. It’s not a new idea, by any means, but it does ring true.


  5. BEARS! Now *that* would have been a betrayal. Because, well, wolves (black, white, purple) would have been cooler 😛

    I love how you’re so honest and transparent about your process and your thoughts. It’s inspirational 🙂

    And I’m supremely ticked off at myself that it’s taken me until today to get back to checking your blog! 😦


  6. Kae, my blog posting has dwindled over the years to about once a month, so there’s no sense of urgency over here, at all. And thank you for the opinion that BEARS do not belong in this story! I’m going to make my daughter read that, because she was pushing me to add them every step of the way (she knows I have a thing about BEARS, mostly because she and her husband go hiking in places where the beasts could eat them).