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The Neverending Story

The Neverending Story

Last Summer (In late June, early July)...I lost one of the best friends that I’ve ever had before in my life. We had known each other since the fist grade, and shared a life of late nights, movies, video games, and laughing until we fell over holding our stomachs with tears in our eyes. He was the kind of friend that you only make or twice in a lifetime...and one day, he was just...’gone’. Went to bed, heart failure in his sleep, and that was that. A huge part of me was gone without warning, and there was nothing that I could do about it except move on.

Sometimes it still doesn’t feel real. I see or hear something funny, or want to talk about what’s on my mind...and even now, almost a year later...I pick up the phone and I forget that he’s not there. It hurts. I won’t lie, I don’t think that hurt will ever fully go away. I’ll be able to function, sure...but my life won’t ever be the same again without him here. Way it goes, I suppose.

Why do I bring this up for the sake of posting a brand new writing tip? Because of the very idea that his ‘story’, at least from my personal perspective, is over now. It’s done. I have an idea of his beginning, his middle, and now his end. Sometimes it’s exactly what a story needs to truly have a meaning and a position that gives a story...no matter how short or how long it is...it’s impact. Everything is wrapped up in a neat little bow and then it’s gone for good.

But I do have one or two stories that don’t exactly follow that formula in the same way, and that’s what I’d like to discuss here today. Especially when it comes to stories like “The Secret Life Of Billy Chase” and a few other series that actually do have endings planned out to finish the tale, once and for all, but have taken years and years worth of hard work for me to get them out there as quickly as possible. (Hopefully, I’m doing a lot better these days. Hehehe!)

So, let’s see if I can get this alternate method of putting a story together to make sense somehow to a point where you might want to try it out for yourselves someday.

It’s no real secret that it takes me forever to finish off one of my series, despite my best efforts. Trust me, I know. And even if I managed to somehow forget over time, I’d be reminded of it with every new chapter that I post.

“When are you gonna finish this story, once and for all?”

“I hope we don’t have to wait another YEAR for a new chapter!”

“Now if only you could finish that other story that I like!”

“Why don’t you just end this story right here? It’s the perfect spot to just stop writing, and I can finally have some closure!”

Well...writing these stories takes a lot of time and effort and emotional energy to create and put together just way so that I can get them to look and read just the way that I want them to. You guys can easily tell when I rushed older chapters or short stories in order to toss out something new at the expense of using that heart and those ideas for something more fulfilling. Or...at least I can. If I happened to sneak one of those stories by you, then...GOOD! Hehehe! I got lucky on that one!

But, “Billy Chase” isn’t really a story in the strictest sense. Do you know what I mean? I mean, I have an idea of how it ends and all of the events that will eventually lead up to that ending...but there’s no set structure in place to guide Billy through a divine maze and then just end the whole thing with a kiss and type ‘The End’ for the sake of everybody having closure. “The Secret Life Of Billy Chase” is more like an ongoing memoir, detailing the life and times of a gay teen trying to figure life out one step at a time and hopefully find himself while a lot of my younger readers were doing the same. Racing towards a definitive ending is like...racing towards death. That’s the ending. The idea is to love, enjoy, and appreciate the time that you get to spend with him while he’s still here, and I understand that this is difficult for some people.

Hehehe, sorry. You can’t eight hour binge this one like a Netflix series. It’s meant to be a story that I created to be enjoyed in the present. Moment to moment, where readers are simply looking to see what happens next. How one problem gets solved while two or three other conflicts are left hanging in the balance. While this may aggravate many readers to tantrums of insults and rage...it was this very style of writing that made the “Billy Chase” series so addictive in its presentation. Especially when it came to the ebooks...where people who were finding it for the very first time would read the very first book and immediately grab all of the books to follow all at once so they wouldn’t have to take a break between them if there were any questions left unanswered at the end of whatever they were reading at the moment.

There’s a certain joy and charm that comes from writing a project like this, and it has a lot of benefits that come along with it. For example...the emotional investment in the story and its characters becomes soooo powerful. Readers get a chance to go through so many problems, enjoy so many triumphs, and share such a historical bond, with your characters that they feel like old friends. Ones that you would never want to let go of. So the reader involvement is going to continue to grow as time goes on, and every new chapter strengths the attachment without fail. Always a plus, and it inspires reader loyalty as well as excitements for each new step forward.

Another benefit? You have an entire lifetime’s worth of material to play around with, and it never has to get tired or boring. Like...if you read the “Twilight” series or the “Harry Potter” books, they are all connected, but every book has an ending. The Dark Lord wants to kill Harry Potter in book one...and in book two...and again in book three...etcetera. The stories are all different, sure. And they’re all connected, yes. But how many times can that same formula work before it simply doesn’t anymore? You know? Even Batman has to fight more than just the Joker every issue. In order for these storylines to continue and remain relevant. Every story, no matter how well written, needs a change up from time to time. But...like I said, “Billy Chase” is not a story in the same way as many others. Every ‘Book’ ends with enough questions and anticipated events to keep things going forward. Now...you easily could stop at ‘Book One’ and never pick up another one. Hehehe, but most people don’t. Just saying. :P

The audience has just spent the past fifty chapters getting to know this ‘imaginary person’, and even though this one particular part of their journey has come to an end...this ‘person’ still exists outside of their current view. Each book is left with a few questions unanswered, a few conflicts unsolved. It creates an anxiety that goes beyond the plot of that one project and leaves people questioning, “But...what happens after that? And what about this? And I can’t forget about this!” This isn’t a story that they’re reading to the end and putting to rest at the end of the day. This is someone’s life. And a very small piece of it at that. Barely a taste worth mentioning. Writing a ‘neverending’ story may feel like it’s not heading in a specific direction, even if it is. And that’s where your readers will grab and hold on the tightest. It’s no different than having a friend or loved one in real life. They can’t just walk away in to the cornfields of ‘happily ever after’ when there’s so much more to discover. So many more adventures to accompany them on. So many more laughs to share. This method of building a narrative can really be an exercise in developing character and creating lingering feelings that last long after the story is finished.

Speaking of exercises...that’s another benefit to writing a story like this. It teaches patience, pride in your work, and a fullness of expression. The story grows with you as a writer and as a person. There is an infinite amount of room for you to get your feelings out, untangle your own thoughts, and build confidence and stay in practice the entire time. Writing “Billy Chase”, “New Kid In School”, “A Class By Himself”, “My Only Escape”...it made have taken me an ice age to finally get everything out of my system and get them finished or this far along...but I wouldn’t change the experience for anything. I wish I could even put into words how much of ‘me’ exists in those stories over such an extended period of time. It’s insane. But I learned a lot of my best tricks by simply focusing on the thoughts and feelings of my main character over constantly trying to balance those introspective moments out with the dire need to concentrate on heading towards the ultimate destination and maintaining a certain level of pacing along the way. If anything, it was stress relief for me. A writer’s palette cleanser of sorts. Hehehe! So, if nothing else, it’s a great way to sharpen your skills on character building and connecting them with your audience.

Listen, I really do know that people want an ending to the stuff they read, and a vast majority of my stories can and have delivered on that promise over the years. Then I have other series that may have been going on for years and years, and I get an occasional email from a reader saying, “Omigod...I was just starting high school when I started this story! Now I’m out of college, and it’s still going! Wow!” But those have endings too, and they’ll be coming your way faster than you may think. So keep your eyes open!

But I still have those few stories that were meant to enjoy for what they are while they’re still around. Maybe I’ll start to run out of ideas and figure that it’s better to end those stories on a high note instead of letting them burn out and fade away after all the time and hard work that I put in. But until then...the end of their story means the end of them. And if Superman and James Bond and Dracula and Freddie Krueger can live forever...why can’t some of the people in my life that I wish I could hold on to for a little bit longer. You know?

Anyway, that’s the lesson for today, folks. Give it a try some time. Even if you don’t share it with the public at large...it does wonders for exploring that part of the writing craft, and it’s a skill that will trickle down into your other works once you learn how to use it to your advantage.

Take care! Love you lots. And stay beautiful.


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Thanks! I went into this thinking, "Yeah. Stories need an ending. That's the rule. The formula." But you did a fine job of convincing me that's not always the case, exactly for the reasons you mentioned. I can honestly say I've never started a story without knowing exactly how it was going to end, even if I wasn't sure how long it would take to get there. Maybe I should try it. Sometimes the most rewarding journeys are the ones where our destination isn't always spelled out. I've just never explored that in writing before. 

Food for thought. 

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49 minutes ago, Jeff Burton said:

It makes me want to cry because I ended up losing that journal somewhere along the way.  I haven't heard his voice in my head since it disappeared, and I honestly feel like I actually lost someone in the process. 

This has happened to me. It's a heartbreaking loss. I could never go back and recreate what I had in that little notebook, and I tried. 


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Series are difficult to write no matter what approach you take. I've learned that with my Hybrid Journey series. 

I think the biggest obstacle is life. It tends to get in the way.  The first story in my series got put to the side after 8 or 10 chapters because at the time,  I didn't have the maturity as a writer to develop it properly. I flew through the 2nd story. 

Now in the middle of the 3rd and final story, I find myself searching for the a) time, b) energy, c) ambition, d) motivation, etc, because life has decided to throw some difficult challenges at me. 

Authors face obstacles and we can only hope our readers will understand and be patient.  

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That was a very interesting read, because my default filter for stories is "completed"...

So, I thought about why that is, apart from a part in my techie brain stating "that is obvious, a stiry must have a closure".

I think that for me the answer is twofold:

1. It is the time necessary to invest into something unknown. But is that not the case with every new story?

2. Remembering exactly what happened before to jump back "in" some time later. But can the author not "pack/roll up" a chapter nicely?

Hm... still unsure...

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