So it’s Friday, and on Fridays we get this little thing that we expect, and it’s called a paycheck! TGIF (Thank Goodness It’s Friday). Without that check, think about it, our entire world would crumble. Who would work, except for those who absolutely loved their jobs? Who, I ask you?

The resolution of your novel is your paycheck to the reader. And, man o’ man (or woman o’ woman), you owe her big time. She sat down with you while you rattled off your fictional anecdote which may have lasted for days. Her heart rate may have increased, and tears may have streamed down her cheeks. She probably lost hours of sleep, and God knows when she showered last. And it’s all…your…fault! You, the writer, have jerked her around like a rag doll, and now it’s time to pay the piper. She wants her money!

But, being the benevolent boss that you’ve become (alliteration), you’d stop at nothing to give your reader the satisfaction that she deserves. But, how? Think of your premise. Here’s one: Traveling the world brings tranquility.

1. Payne works in a cubicle.
2. Payne’s co-workers treat him like crap.
3. Payne loses his job.
4. Payne uses his savings to start traveling.
5. Payne tries to settle down in London.
6. Payne starts his own travel agency.

See the series of events here. Notice how each event is driven by the novel’s premise. (See WRITER’S ANONYMOUS for more about the premise-thesis).

Which point is the climax? Point 5, of course. Payne tries to resist our premise, and it doesn’t work out for him. Now the payoff is seeing Payne start a travel agency. He can use what he has experienced to share with others while still enjoying the benefits of traveling the world himself.

Your reader should view the resolution as either a breath of fresh air or a knife in the stomach (depending on whether you want a happy or a sad ending). Point 6 could be: Payne moves to San Francisco, never finds happiness, and commits suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. YIKES!

For our rickety premise above, we can see that the payoff better be good. We have to make sure that we are not paying our readers less than what they deserve. It’s frustrating not to get paid, but it’s equally annoying not to get paid the right amount. Our premises must force the outcome of the story. They have to be feasible and believable. We don’t want our readers saying, “But ummm….why didn’t Payne just live off his rich mother’s inheritance and travel for the rest of his life?”

These types of problems can be murderous on a reader’s paycheck. But what should we remember? You got it! We’re better than that!

7 thoughts on “JUST GOT PAID

  1. rich

    that’s called a “contract with the reader.” you’re telling the reader that you’re going to take this character, and you’re going to put him in some impossible situations – but if you stick with me and read this whole damn book, i promise that i’ll get him out of those situations, and i’ll save his ass, and i’ll make it believeable. i won’t just have the hand of god come down and lift him up and save him while the lions are circling.

    and that’s why i have trouble with stephen king. he sets up those wonderful impossible situations, but often he does not deliver on the contract. he literally does use the hand of god to save the day. sometimes.

    1. William Stadler Post author

      Man good point. Stephen King is an amazing writer, but he doesn’t deliver to the reader. It’s pretty disappointing at times.

  2. Tracey

    I like having a deus ex machina sometimes, but I agree, the writer really needs to do the work of believably getting characters to rescue (or ruin) themselves.
    Good post.

  3. Pingback: CALCULATED RISKS « Stadler Style

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