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[Comments] (5) Quick Mallory Note: I don't want to be a person who annotates his own stories in public, partly because I don't actually know anything, but mostly because stories need to stand on their own. But I wanted to say something not about the ending to "Mallory" but about possible reactions to it. I ended the story where I did because (rot13 spoiler) gung'f jurer Ivwnl'f sevraqfuvc jvgu Xrvgu raqf. For me that's the climax because I read "Mallory" mainly as a story about (rot13) gur pbeebfvir rssrpgf naq bccbeghavgl pbfgf bs cnenabvn. But obviously there are parts of the story that I didn't tie up, and I've gotten pushback on ending it where I did.

Pushing back is fine, I can always try something different next time, but if you'd like to see the plot threads tied up, the best thing to do is to write your own story using the same characters. That's an easy thing to say flippantly but it's is a time-honored literary technique that, like so much other creative activity, was cast into disrepute by modern copyright law and is making a comeback. I've done it, I'm pretty sure most writers have done it, and it's a good thing to do if you feel the urge.

I used to never do this because I bought into a common argument against it: that using other people's characters is an empty exercise in wish-fulfillment and that the result will have no literary value. But then I discovered there's nothing special about other people's characters. If you have good original characters you'll find yourself with exactly the same wish-fulfillment temptation as if you were using someone else's. Part of learning to write is harnessing your desire for wish-fulfillment so that it serves the needs of a narrative.

Anyway, I doubt anyone will ever actually reuse my characters, but it's something I've found helpful in the past.


Comments:

Posted by Pyrop at Wed Apr 02 2008 22:05

Yeah, you'll support people using your characters until someone starts writing Keith/Vijay slash fic.

My one problem with the ending is that I read it completely wrong the first time and thought it was a corny "the atheist finds his spiritual side" sort of thing. I knew that wasn't something you would write without irony, so I had to go over it again.

Posted by Leonard at Wed Apr 02 2008 22:22

I'm actually fine with slash (he says), with the caveat that when you decide "I'm going to write slash" the chances are good that you've already surrendered to wish-fulfillment.

Anyway, what the public really wants is to see Alice get it on with Mallory.

Posted by Nathaniel at Thu Apr 03 2008 02:36

> If you have good original characters you'll find yourself with exactly the same wish-fulfillment temptation as if you were using someone else's.

We were just talking about an interesting example of this today. Sherwood Smith's novel Crown Duel was originally published as two books, and when they did the omnibus reprint they wanted to sweeten the deal, so they threw in an extra short story about the two main characters. This story is in every way a classic instance of fan fiction -- the characters are not characterized, the plot is utterly flimsy, basically it's just an excuse to hang around with characters you already love from the novels proper and see OMG they love each other for reals!!1!. Not to beat up on it too badly, I did enjoy reading the short, especially for what was basically a promotional tool; my point is that its approach to being enjoyable was exactly what people decry about fan fiction.

Except, of course, it was, uh, written by the original author.

Posted by Nathaniel at Thu Apr 03 2008 02:54

Also -- wait, Mallory's a girl? My mind is blown.

Posted by Slippy Lane at Sun Apr 06 2008 11:49

Loved the story. Thought I knew what it was about until I reached the end, realised it wasn't about Vijay or the selfish GAME per se, read it again, got it, loved it.

To anyone who doesn't like the ending - you're reading it wrong! :-D


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