I’ve written before about stories growing of their own accord; becoming much bigger than I originally expected them to be when I started writing. It seems that even after they all lived happily (or unhappily) ever after, I quite often feel like there is more of a story to be told – what happened next? And after that? And after that? There has to be a cut-off point, I suppose. I’m not really talking about the characters themselves (I’ve mentioned before I have read a few sequels to famous novels written by different authors, and none of them quite lived up to the originals). I’m not even really talking about fan fiction either. It’s just the concept about what happens after the ever after.
What if the bit that comes first didn’t actually exist? The notion of an epic adventure or star crossed lovers who finally overcome the odds or some life changing event is what makes a novel happen. But what if, as a writer, I just started from that end point? A new adventure could always being at the end of an old one, particularly after something life changing has happened to the characters. The hero and heroine kiss – the credits roll, the last page is turned. And then… perhaps that awkward conversation. So, your place or mine? Do you take sugar? Shall we just watch TV tonight? What do you mean you don’t like red wine?
The bit that comes before all that is no doubt the most interesting part. But is a story ever truly finished?
Years ago I was inspired to write about a fictional TV interview featuring a couple talking about how they were brought together following a traumatic experience; something that made the national news and captured the imagination of the public. This would be a couple whose triumph-over-adversity story would be followed by millions of people across the country, all revelling in their happily ever after. The actual experience that brought them together in this case isn’t really that important. My thoughts were only about what might happen to them after the spotlight went off and their 15 minutes are over. I wondered, would they go back to their normal lives, marry, have babies? Could their happily ever after ever live up to people’s expectations? Stories like this interest me just as much as the events that precede them.