(I recently wrote a book on writing call The Glorious Grind: Meditations on Crafting Fiction & The Writing Life and have decided to simply publish it in installments here.)
The ultimate goal of every story I write is resonance. I want the story to resonate in some lingering way with the reader. I want to haunt the reader. I want to dig into their skull and set up shop for a few hours. When they close the cover of my book I want the story to reverberate in the reader’s heart and kick around in the backwater of their mind, if only for a little while. I build my stories bit by bit with an eye toward this eventual payoff, this sensual dénouement. I do my best to make the reader care about my characters and the situations they find themselves in (or, to quote Bruce Springsteen, the “lonely places that we take ourselves”) and then I like to blow everything sky high.
My goal is not to shock you.
My goal is not to make you cry, or give you one last parting chuckle. I’m not giving a best man speech at a wedding. I don’t care if your great aunt thinks I look handsome in a tuxedo.
My goal is not to prove how clever I am, to show what a great twist I can add at the end and how I outsmarted all of you and made you think the well-mannered butler did it. Cleverness is not that clever.
No. Fuck all that. These options are a cheap way of closing—they can be added to any manuscript like ingredients in a soup. I want to connect with the reader. I want to cause that deep moment of reflective profundity that follows any good, thunderous piece of music at the very instant it stops. I may not be able to achieve this every time, with every reader, but if I can resonate with a few I am happy enough, for such moments seem to grow increasingly rare as the modern world grows louder and louder and reflective silence itself is encroached upon.
I want my work to resonate before it fades back into the collective dreamscape. I want my books to be like a warm summer evening filled with heat lightning, the horizon zapped by a beautiful spectral light the viewer cannot help but see when they close their eyes.