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Friday, November 29, 2013

"The End is Where We Begin"

You know, I don't often comment about books I don't like on here. I usually only comment on books that I LOVE and want to make sure y'all know influenced me, but I was reading through reviews for the third in a YA trilogy I was mildly interested in finishing - not madly in love with as many other people are - but interested in finishing . . . until the preponderance of the reviews came back negative. I won't name the book because I'm not interested in damaging the career of any fellow author, no matter how misguided she may have been with this book, but I mention this here because a) I think it's important for authors to pay attention to both good and bad reviews because we have a responsibility to our readers, and b) There was a comment made in one of the reviews that made me go, "uh huh! That's why." One reviewer said that this author has been quoted in interviews saying that she had "no idea" where the story was going when she first started writing the series. My creative writing students will chuckle at this, but if I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times - you DO NOT START WRITING A BOOK BEFORE YOU KNOW THE ENDING. This holds *especially* true for writing a series! If you are scrambling to make sense of everything you've already written at the end of the series, your readership can tell. At least, with this particular series, I could already tell from the beginning that she didn't have a plan, which is part of why I didn't get too emotionally invested in it in the first place.

So, here's what I promise you.

I have a plan. I have always had a plan. I planned out the basic premises of all six books before I started writing book 1, and I've known how the whole series will end before I started writing book 1. Have there been some changes to my plan along the way? Sure! Have I come up with new and different ideas as I go? Of course! Has the story evolved somewhat organically once the ball got rolling? You bet! But I have striven very hard to keep everything pointing toward the ending I planned out six years ago, and that has helped me to write a story that is coherent, logical, and enjoyable. You, the reader, can trust me. I take your feelings into consideration, and as long as I CAN work something in that I know you want, I WILL. Everything that you think "means something" probably in fact does, and there really is a "puzzle" for you to figure out. AND I have beta readers already lined up to read book 6 when I finish who will let me know if my plan has been executed to satisfaction and whether or not you, the reader, will feel fulfilled by it. I don't want to let you down, and I think any author who puts edginess or shock value above the needs of the readers has lost his/her way. I promise to give you an ending that has a eucatastrophe, an ending that makes sense, and an ending that has, really, existed all along.

One of my favorite bands has a recently-released album entitled, "The End is Where We Begin." Good advice for any author, especially an author with thousands of people riding on his/her books. At the end of the day, I don't want my readers to close book 6 and say, "What was the point?" And that is clearly what has happened to this author.

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