Never is a strong word. In fact, just this week, I was asked if that was really the word I intended to use, and I had to take a moment to think.
The context: I said that when I write, the written words never come out as lovely as they sound in my head. I’ll admit the statement was born of frustration, after I’d read some bits from the novel I’m drafting and found them severely lacking. But there are good moments, too, gems to which I cling with all my being, reminding myself that amidst all the undesirable, I am still a good writer.
So when I say you will never find these things in my writing, I actually can’t make a guarantee. My next novel has a “mean girl” in it, and I wouldn’t have anticipated ever writing that type of character (and I’m a little nervous about it, too!). But there are a few story elements that I don’t care to read, and so if I can help it at all, I don’t plan to write them either.
Love Triangles. At least not in the traditional sense. On the basest level, it annoys me when girls have two (or more) simultaneous suitors. What a life! But tying people up in a love triangle is a recipe for disaster, and when I read them, no matter how they’re resolved, no one ends up truly happy.
Failure to Communicate. Listen, I know miscommunication happens. People don’t understand each other. Letters cross paths in the mail. Third parties hide information. But I’ll never write two protagonists driven apart because they refuse to tell each other the truth. It’s super duper annoying, and I’ve been known to raise my hands at the television or toss a book aside, shouting, “Would you just TALK to him already???”
Ambiguity. I’m not gonna leave it for you to figure out, okay? I’m not gonna pose a litany of rhetorical or existential questions for you to ponder long after you’re done reading. It’s not my thing. There’s enough ambiguity in life. I’m gonna wrap up those loose ends and lay it all out there. I love epilogues. If that’s not the payoff you want, then I’m not going to be your favorite author.
Sad Endings. Speaking of what we already have enough of in real life: sadness. I don’t pick up a book to read about more of it, so I won’t write it, either. I’m not saying that nothing sad will ever happen in my work, but there will always be hope and healing by the end.
Aliens. Because no.
Swearing and Sex. Well, so much for that. But I promise, nothing excessive and nothing graphic!
In An American Tail, Henri the French pigeon sings, “Never say never!” With apologies to the late Christopher Plummer, who voiced Henri and passed yesterday, I’m saying it. I’m saying never.
But I’m not saying I won’t change my mind someday.