It’s always an interesting moment when you hit ‘send;’ your finger hovers over the key for a final moment—yes or no?—before descending. The document you’ve been living with for the last year or so, the story that began as just a vague figment of your imagination, the characters that have kept you company for months as the story evolved, the choices you made, the journey you’ve invited the reader to take and the place to which you’ve brought the reader as the story ends, are all suddenly sent into the harsh light of the public square and transformed into 92,000 words of stuff, to be poked and prodded and weighed in the balance by total strangers. Goodbye and good luck, Slender Thread! ! (For a sneak preview, click here!)
In the meantime my protagonists are moving on into their next adventures, and I’m particularly pleased with the way one of the future episodes will start:
Unless perhaps that sentence is too long to work…
When I write I have a specific reader in mind:
He or she is in Chicago O’Hare Airport at 8.00 pm on a Friday evening. Their flight has just been delayed for the second time and it is far from clear that they will get home tonight. The terminal is crowded, noisy, uncomfortable, and inhospitable. They face the prospect of being trapped there all night.
The person needs to escape! He or she picks up my book or opens it on Kindle. It is my job to take them out of this horrible environment, to introduce them to some interesting people in an interesting situation, and let them see and hear what happens next. And I have to do this immediately—in the first paragraph.
Five or ten minutes later the reader reaches the end of the first chapter and returns to the real world. The sights and sounds of O’Hare flood back in and the departure displays say that the indeterminate status of their flight home remains indeterminate. Same old same old. If I am doing my job correctly they will return to the book to see what happens next. That’s why I write: to save my reader from O’Hare on a Friday evening!