I love plots.
In my day-to-day life, give me a straightforward existence. In my stories I want meaty, complex, intertwining puzzle pieces that build towards a breath-taking reveal.
The problem is that there are very few reveals that can support the strength of the plotting that came before them.
When I reach the part of the story that promises to explain all that has come before, my nervousness starts to ratchet upwards. I so badly want to be dazed and awed, but often I’m just left dazed and feeling vaguely cheated.
I’ve thought about this, as someone who finds joy in fully immersing myself in the worlds I am privileged to visit.
Surely a lackluster solution can’t take away the hours of enjoyment I’ve spent tracing the threads that lead to this climax?
“The moment of truth” is seen as a groan-worthy cliche, but I think it captures the heart of the problem arising from poor plot solutions.
As readers, we work hard to build on the skeleton provided by a writer. With our own lives, our own thoughts, our own dreams and nightmares, we flesh out the words on the page into a living universe that we absorb as we read.
No writer, no matter how great or talented, is going to be able to cover all of those little universes contained in the minds of thousands of readers. Just like great horror suggests rather than shows outright, allowing you to build your own nightmares, great puzzles use your own assumptions against you. Great plots expect you to build your own worlds and your own interpretations of the actions and both incorporate and play against those visions in your head.
Here’s the problem.
The solution ends those games.
The solution is where we are finally able to see the writer’s truth of the heart of the story.
There are few writers whose truths can stand against a thousand fleshed and coloured worlds.
The stories whose solutions I have loved understand this and their truths are built into the marrow of the worlds they create. The great solutions are those that respect the visions of the readers because their core is at the base of the worlds they have built.
No matter how many disappointing endings I read, I am still excited to see stories brave enough to attempt difficult and intricate complications.
I only hope as I turn the page that they have given me the bones I need to build a compatible world.
I love plot and how much of its interpretation is a complicated dance between the reader and the writer.
My Grand Reveal still has four books to go. If you’d like to see my own building bones, my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor, is available here.