Filling in the gaps – or even the ending?

Posted: March 16, 2011 in Kipper's Pride
Tags: , ,

There is the idea in the writing community that the reader fills in the detail. That’s part of the deal they pay for. We respect their ability to understand without having to be told everything.

Right now, as I sit in bed, computer at fingertips, bent over virtual manuscript, I find myself hoping the (young) reader will fill in the backstory/ending/you-name-it and finish off Kipper’s Pride on my behalf. Or is that me expecting more from them than they bargained for?

I’ve chosen to write in Jervan’s voice in the present tense, and his mum’s disappeared from their holiday caravan – you don’t go reviewing your life story at times like this or thinking too much about what’s going on back home with your mates. Jervan does think painfully about his dad’s post-traumatic stuff because that’s (nearly) integral to the plot and is also a consideration in judging how much they tell him about what’s happened to mum. But not his band at school, his normal routine, his bedtime rituals and homework tantrums!

So how do I fill out the back story, make him fully rounded? Have I managed it to any acceptable  degree?

Right now, as I near the end of the drafting and start thinking about the editing process, I’d so like it if my young readers would shoulder the mantle and fill out all the gaps for themselves. Maybe the mention of Jervan’s band at school will trigger their own ideas of which kind of music they’d be playing. Maybe mentioning the row he’d get into if he’s late home will trigger their own experiences of dreaded parental encounters.

I’ve allowed Jervan to drift in his mind into a school scenario when he goes into a comatose-like experience after finding his twin has also gone missing. That’s shock. He’s dissociating. And he draws on his strengths soon afterwards to work out what he must now do, so his strengths have been dropped in, so to speak, at an earlier point. But this book is racy and immediate, because he’s forced to do everything in his power to find his mum before she turns up dead like others in the town. So the readers will probably have to make up some of the background that’s missing, though I’ll also look for opportunities to clarify things as I edit. But have I done enough in general, I’m asking myself?

Oh, and that’s when I edit – there’s still that ending, which I would prefer the reader to invent for me but which, realistically, they’re going to expect me to provide or demand their money back.



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