To end, or not to end: that is the question. When reading a great book, how would a person prefer that novel to end? Would the reader want there to be a clearly defined ending? A nice, tidy package all wrapped up and complete? Or would the reader choose to draw his or her own conclusions? Would it be preferable to the reader to extrapolate the story beyond the boundaries the author has determined and create his or her own future for the characters? This very topic has been the center of some heated discussions between the two of us. Coauthoring a novel can be difficult, but factor in our deeply held beliefs on resolution, and it can be downright frightening!
So, one might wonder how two authors with drastically different ideas about how to end a story, actually ENDED a story. Well…it was definitely a compromise. We were both in agreement about how our story would end, but we had different ideas regarding how much information we were going to give our readers.
Cori: Initially, I wanted our story to end very cryptically, with our main character making a decision only she knew the answer to. I wanted to force the reader into waiting until the second book to discover what choice she actually makes. I enjoy prolonging the pain! Mwahahahaha!
Lissa: I, on the other hand, could not handle Cori’s proposed ending. I am by nature NOT a masochist, thus I do not like to be subjected to mental (or physical) torture. I am a strong proponent of authentic conflict resolution! Nothing irritates me more than when I have invested hours of my precious time reading a book, only to discover that the central conflict is STILL unresolved!! No-resolution resolution is absurd!! Real life has far too many unresolved conflicts. I read to escape this hell!
Cori: Hell? Isn’t that what our book is about?
Lissa: Touché, my sarcastic, masochistic friend.
Cori: In all honesty, I do not want to subject our readers to any kind of torture (mental or physical). I prefer to think of it as giving our readers a creative license. As a reader, I enjoy the control I have when I get to decide the fate of the characters I have invested my precious time reading about. So, as an author, I wanted to give that same gift to our readers. I want our readers to talk about possible endings, debate different scenarios, and have discussions!
Lissa: I wholeheartedly agree with your last statement. However, I prefer those debates to be about the way I/we chose to end the story. I too have issues with control (as you, Cori, well know). Which is precisely why I have to be in control of our characters’ fate. A reader can draw conclusions about a story’s ending all they’d like, but they are not the authors. Therefore, as ingenious as their proposed endings may be, they are only just that…mere hypotheses. We are the creators of these characters and the story’s plot, therefore only we know the true ending. In case you haven’t noticed, I have a bit of a “god complex.” Because of this, I refuse to give our readers that kind of free will.
Cori: Free will? Isn’t our story about free will?
Lissa: Again, touché, my astute, sarcastic, and masochistic friend.
Cori: So, keeping in mind Lissa’s god-complex and my need to give free will (I guess that makes me kind of like a god, too.) we needed a way to blend our two styles of conflict resolution. The problem—how do two authors with different god-like complexes come to a compromise?
Lissa: It was surprisingly easy. We chose to end our book by resolving the central conflict. (Yay, I win!)
Cori: But, the resolution is very short-lived because the secondary conflict is very much unresolved, which sets up the central conflict in book two. (Yay, I win too!)
With the ending we have now, THE ONLY EXCEPTION will work as a stand-alone novel. There is sufficient resolution for the heroine and her love interest. However, THE ONLY EXCEPTION does have series potential. In our minds, the main character has more to accomplish before the story is completely finished.
Lissa: We’d like to know your thoughts. Do you prefer a story with a clearly defined ending or an open-ended, inadequate attempt at an ending? Please leave us a comment and take our poll. We really want to know your thoughts.
Cori: We may or may not get back to you on this topic; it’s completely open-ended at this time!
Lissa: Whatever, you know my need for resolution will compel me to respond to your comments.
(And Cori, you’re not fooling anybody. You’re far too sweet to ignore the comments of our adoring fans!)
Peace out and word to your…