Saw That Coming!

Last week I blogged about how a writer may need to edit or revise their work in order to convey a certain message. But it occurred to me that some authors can take a different approach to their writing – one in which they change their narrative specifically for their readers.

This typically is more effective in tabletop game sessions and serialized stories, especially on the Web. Fans of some series can be extremely vocal about what’s happening, and free to share some wild speculation about what will come, or why certain events are unfolding.

I’ve heard many instances where the writers of series peruse some of these fan boards, often looking for ideas themselves. There are some occasions where the fans come up with a better idea for the plot than what the author originally intended. In rare occasions, it could be the author has no idea how to get their characters out of the convoluted mess he or she created and hopes to find some inspiration to get out of it.

Other than a deus ex machina plot. Because, let’s admit it, some of those endings are the worst.

Take note that this can often work out to be a good thing. Fans of series love being right when it comes to their guesses. (“So the assassin was the hero’s long lost twin! I knew it!”) The author, of course, won’t admit that the idea came from a fan, but it helps to strengthen the following just the same.

The drawback, of course, is that too much reliance on this approach can lead to some feeling that the series is too predictable or formulaic. That has a chance of losing readers who are looking for stories that are new and exciting – different from the usual.

Of course, there is one more scenario in which the author may deliberately choose NOT to explain. But we’ll talk about that next time. Until then, keep on writing!

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