That pun was bad. But I’m not ready to sit in a corner and think about what I did. I ran into an interesting problem where one of the points of view in my tale hasn’t been very linear or defined. So how do you tie it together in a knot? Let me count a few ways.
1) Kill Everyone
Contrary to what most dramas in America will have you think, death still has finality in some genres. I think a main character’s death should only happen to conclude an arc if it will have an impact on the story later (side note: this is why I’m rooting for R+L=J because otherwise A Game of Thrones served no purpose aside some setting the scene). American fantasy television is notorious for non-final deaths, because, then what’s the point of the audience caring up until that place in the story? I’m trying to stick to a guidebook where, unless the rules prescribe the possibility of a character returning in some other form, then the character is dead. This particular arc that I’m playing with has the character traversing many a volume. So, this suggestion is out.
2) Knock Your Main Characters Out
This scenario is similar to the point above. However, the biology and physics of being out cold is contrary to what movies and television will have us believe. So having that span the end of one arc into a new book seems a little absurd. Unless, for some reason, the next book picks up a few minutes after where the first one ended. In that case, write an epilogue or figure out something better.
3) That Villain Who’s Villainy is Scheduled for 2 Books Later? Push It Forward
I realized that this arc has a built-in antagonist. I like to think that I’m doing a good job of painting a concept as a villain, but sometimes there is the necessity for a physical being to fight against. With some help brainstorming with a co-worker, I realized I should make the villainy of the antagonist become relevant sooner. The original plan wasn’t anything at all like a plot twist, but it was more a source of tension that was to come to a head. Shifting around future plot points can not only change the dynamics of a story, but learning more about the journey you as the writer are taking with your characters makes the tale feel more prepared for your readers.
4) Preface Things to Come
If you work any form of a traditional job, meetings are inevitable. I also have a personal distaste for meetings, especially planning meetings where the details feel like they can be easily worked out over email, but that’s a soapbox for another time. It’s on my scene bucket-list to do one where a main character meets in a tavern with a hooded figure and the figure gets revealed in the next book. I think I have to build up my writing prowess a bit to get there. I’m already trying to make sure that any character who gets mentioned in passing becomes relevant later on, either in different arcs. So I could drop names, but that’s a little too artificial for me.
5) Reveal Something Dramatic
A wise man by the name of Patrick Rothfuss once said that there are no twist endings. And where I’m standing, there hasn’t been any build-up (does this mean I’m on a plateau of sorts?). The only dramatic thing to come through would need to be integration with the two other storylines in the book. And this particular person just isn’t ready for that kind of responsibility quite just yet.
Thinking through each possibility actually helped me parse through what I needed for my novel. I think I’ll be doing a combination of 3 and 4, since they serve the best function to my form. I can’t wait to share the final execution with everyone one day.