So I’m nearing the end of the final draft of Surreality, critical clues are discovered, connections are made, and my killer is revealed. As I mentioned last week, this is a book I’ve been working on for seven years. There have been many significant revisions and complete rewrites. But from first draft to the draft I hope to finish in a few weeks, my killer has been the same.
It makes sense when crafting a mystery, or any good story for that matter, that you know how it ends. The trick is to send the reader down enough blind alleys that it keeps them guessing, but not so many that it feels random or that the solution is arbitrary. You have to earn your solution. In an ideal world your detective and your reader solve the case at the same moment.
I’ve thought about changing the killer many times. A function of creating many possible suspects is that they all are possible. Tweak a critical fact and you can take the story in a different direction. Surreality has gained and lost characters, scenes, clues all of which could have had a significant impact on the outcome.
But even though I could change it, I haven’t wanted to. No matter how many revisions this book goes through, the essentials of the ending, of what I want this book to be about, have remained the same.
What changes are the characters, not just who appears in and out of the book, but how they deal with the events of the book (and those prior to the book as well). I’ve changed the setting, which gives me an opportunity to share things about the city I love (and to learn them as well).
As a writer you have to be open to change, always working with the goal of making the draft better. But believe it or not, sometimes an idea you had at the beginning of writing the book is actually still working for you, even if the journey to it has changed. There are lots of different roads that take you to the same place.