Nearing the end of this novel, I ask

Friday, November 25, 2011

my son to join me for a post-Thanksgiving Day walk. We choose the path that will take us down thin, tree-lined roads, past converted barns, near a field set aside for birds, a stream.  I tell him about the novel, how much it has changed.  I tell him how close I am to writing the ending, at last.  I say that the book will conclude on one of three images, and after explaining each one, he says:

"Well.  The literary critics would probably want you to end the book in an ambiguous place.  But if you want to succeed commercially with the book, you might want to think about being more direct."


Bonnie Jacobs said...

I like your son's thinking.

Amy said...

Sadly, he's probably right.

Wendy said...

I say - follow your heart and trust the story to tell you (but then, I never like to cave into the commercial demands :))

Melissa Sarno said...

He's very wise that one. I'd keep him around if I were you. ;)

Caroline Starr Rose said...

And what do you think and want for it?

Lilian Nattel said...

I would follow your heart. Nothing is predictable in the market. But your own truth is a touchstone.

patti.mallett_pp said...

What a sweet time for the two of you. (Please, keep us posted on what you decide.)

Sarah Laurence said...

I'd test the MS on teen readers with all 3 endings, especially since your son is now older than your target audience. It's hard for an author to judge ambiguity objectively.

I doubt the ending would make a difference in the book's commercial success, but age appropriateness of the whole book would. Ambiguity can work for a multi-aged readers in that the reader can draw what she/he wants from the story, but you do need to be careful. There is a fine line between confusion and ambiguity.

For example, Jellicoe Road was ambiguous at the start but worked toward clarity and a near full explanation by the end. That balance worked.

Lovely sky! It looked that yesterday in NYC too. I went for a walk with my daughter in Central Park. Happy Thanksgiving!

Jeannine Atkins said...

I like the open endedness of this post!

And I want to borrow your son for an afternoon now and again.

Michael G-G said...

What I gleaned from this lovely post:

A) Mother-son walks can lead to profundity.

B) Your son is wise.

C) Despite wisdom, no one can really predict what will be a commercial success.

D) The story knows its authentic ending, and will lead you there inexorably. It cares not for commercial success; it cares only for truth.

E) Early mornings, without my strong cup of tea, can make me sound like Confucius.

Serena said...

I suggest letting the story and language decide where it wants to conclude.

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