The Tale Grew in the Telling


I had every intention of having Part Six of “On His Mother’s Grave” be the finale.  I knew where I was going, even knew the steps I was going to take to get there.  A thousand words or so later not only was I not finished, but a brand new character had literally burst through the door.  I think Part Seven will definitely be the end now, so I  haven’t gone off into Robert Jordan / George R.R. Martin territory, but I’m starting to feel awfully bad about some of the things I’ve said about them.

See, I’ve always been the guy who hears authors say things like, “Well, I’d planned three books, but the story just grew too big,” and thinks, “Bull.  It’s your story.  You’re in charge.  If you want it to go somewhere, cut the extra bits that pop up and tempt you and get there already.”  Discipline!  That’s all they need!  Ignore the publishers clamoring for seven best-sellers instead of three!  Spare us the side trips and the suddenly appearing characters and the long dissertations on food and culture and just tell the story!

And then last night, there I was, soaring past my planned ending, cramming a small house full of dead people and having so much fun with it, I didn’t want to stop.  And making myself a big ol’ hypocrite in the process.

Okay, so maybe, just maybe, the story can grow too big.  I don’t know if I’m ready to excuse Jordan and Martin some of their excesses — I think Nynaeve may have just tugged on her braid again somewhere — but if going long makes for a better story, well, make the better story.  Just don’t do it because you want to milk that literary cow for all it’s worth.

Watch this space for another post when my story somehow reaches Part Twelve with no end in sight.

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