Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Still More on Ideas

This is more about ideas. Maybe it tells you something silly about me, but I am very proud of places where I did something that strikes me as a bit new. I once ended a story with five morals -- five good and useful morals, albeit morals for an alien species -- because you are not supposed to have morals at the end of a SF story.

When I started sending out stories, editors kept telling me that they didn't see the point of the stories. What were they about? So my second novel ends with my characters spending fifty pages discussing the meaning of their adventure. It's been years since I read the novel, so I can't remember their conclusion.

The discussion struck me as neat and funny. It meant readers -- especially editors --had the explanation they wanted, and I was not in any way responsible for the explanation, since it came from my characters.

I had given readers the meaning requested, but since this meaning came from chracters within the novel, it was a meaning in the novel and not the meaning of the novel, the author's meaning.

No one has ever complained about the ending of the novel or told me that they couldn't figure out what the novel was about.

When I do things like this, it seems to me I'm dealing with ideas, not character or plot or mood. Can you end a story with a moral and still have it work? Well, yes, but why have only one moral? Can you end a story with a long explanation and not have the readers turn against you? Yes, I think so, though I can't remember any reviews of that novel. I am pretty sure I did not get any angry letters.


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