It’s a conundrum

I may have finished Lunar Boogie this morning. Then again, maybe not. I’m struggling with a situation and airing it out might help me. A few of your comments might be helpful, too.

First is to admit that The Hat series is a form of superhero fiction. Readers expect certain things, but I’m troubled by what you don’t see regularly.

Lizzie and the hat have a symbiotic relationship that lets them fight monsters. They need each other. However, Lizzie is just a regular girl.

In superhero tales, we get used to seeing massive destruction and various villains getting done in. It’s part of the expectations. We almost never see the down side of all that.

Lizzie is a good character, and I want to make sure she’s fully developed. Some of this should start to wear on her at some point and that’s what I want to get across. I understand it isn’t why we read heroic fiction, but if you have fully developed characters, sometimes they’re going to have issues.

In other genres, like adventure, we know people fire machine guns in the streets, but the cops never seem to show up. First, why not? Second, is this police absence expected in the story?

My thought was to deal with some of this between books. I understand that readers of heroic fiction don’t want to spend chapters of effort on mental health issues. Those stories are best suited to other authors.

To deal with it between books, I have to leave readers with a sense of the problem. I can pick things up on the other side with a nod before the next adventure. I have some fun things planned for that.

What I have in hand is a book that ends on a bummer note. The goals were achieved, people will live happy lives because of Lizzie’s efforts, but it’s kind of a downer at the same time. Keep in mind these are also supposed to be comedic in part. (Bummer and comedy don’t mix too well.)

When I pick it up in the next story, since Lizzie is a musician, I figured people might mistakenly refer to her episode as rehab. In fact, that part works pretty well.

My problem is the mental cliff-hanger I’ve created in this volume. I like it, but I don’t at the same time, and I’m out of time today. Perhaps a medical professional can deliver a line or two about things being okay and that would work. Would this be enough of an uplifting phrase if I do it well?

I could also add one more chapter, which after writing it here seems like a good idea. She wouldn’t be completely cured, but readers could see her getting some help.

In some ways, I’m lucky to be out of time. This has been on my mind for months, and now that it exists it could be easier to find a way to address it. Having a week to ponder the issues might play to my advantage.

One thing that’s also possible is to get the next book ready to go for a quicker release. Then Lizzie’s fans can get the answers a bit sooner than the annual release schedule.

Do any of you ever have struggles like this? I know the genre pretty well, and what I’m proposing isn’t required. Would I be better off to drop the idea entirely and go back to her musical lifestyle as if nothing happened?

Right now, I’m leaning toward the additional chapter. Maybe even just a scene to end on a higher note. What do you guys think?


Filed under Writing

34 responses to “It’s a conundrum

  1. You sound like a person with some uncertainty that should be resolved with your gut. I would do the additional chapter and save yourself from angst later. This advice was free, so it may well be worth what you paid for it.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s hard to weigh in without knowing the specifics, but in general, I’d say superhero fiction can get away with sirens in the distance and police not showing up for the battle. As for the breakdown? This is supposed to be a humorous, light-hearted series. I’d probably leave that stuff off-the-page, between stories and just deal with the after effects in the next book. (It should still be real and not glossed over. Mental health issues shouldn’t be made light of; you just don’t want it to be the focus of a funny story.)

    Hope that helps. And congratulations on (maybe) finishing your draft.

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  3. For my two cents, perhaps elude to Lizzy going to get help. Or perhaps talking to someone if not a professional. You may not need a chapter to do this, perhaps just a few lines. Good luck!

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  4. I’m pretty sure your inner genius will guide you through this one. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  5. It’s hard to offer an opinion when I can’t quite figure out what you’re alluding to. When you use the term “rehab,” I think of serious problems–like drugs or being an alcoholic, and I didn’t get a feel that Lizzie struggled with either of those in the last book, so it would be a little jarring for me if she did in this one. These books feel like fun romps to me with the humor, so I wouldn’t expect something really serious at the end, but I could see that something serious would upset Lizzie. Does she have a close friend, a confidante, she could call and say, “Something really got to me. I need to talk”? Or maybe make an appointment with counsellor on how to handle stress? Something less serious than rehab. But again, I’m guessing. I don’t know enough to give an honest opinion.

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  6. Have to admit that I’m not entirely certain what the issue is. Seems like you’re concerned about demonstrating the emotional toll the adventure takes on Lizzie. This is actually much more common in superhero stories than people realize, but it doesn’t show up in the movies. In the comics, heroes suffer breakdowns all the time. Spider-Man has quit at least once since he felt like he couldn’t do it any more. Heroes have mourned and felt doubt after even one failure. Even Superman has had stories where he is mentally strained. These are what makes the superheroes in written fiction more human and relatable. So, I would go for the added chapter to handle things. I assume you’re showing signs of her fraying at the edges throughout the story too?

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  7. D.L. Finn, Author

    When I’m done I feel like I am, I usually don’t wonder after. I remember you saying you wanted the books so they didn’t have to be read in order, would that change that? Or you could do a part two? I don’t have any issues learning more depth in characters, even in comedy, it makes them more human and makes you care more. It’s hard to say since I’m not sure what the subject is. There can be humor in almost any subject if done right. All that said, I think whatever feels right to you should do as an ending.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Wow, such a tough call. I wish I had a concrete answer, but all I can offer are musings. I’ve always thought of Lizzie and the Hat as a fun, light-hearted series. If you suddenly go heavy on the ending you might lose readers, so I vote for the extra chapter to give some closure. I also think that would help keeping the books able to read as standalones. Of course, it’s your call, and your work. As the author, you have to do what you feel works best regardless of how readers might feel.

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  9. I think that an extra scene or chapter to leave things on a brighter note is a great idea. This helps to keep the books as standalones too. And definitely better than ending on a low note. I agree that it’s more realistic to have her struggle a little as long as you’ve shown some of that in smaller doses before the finish line.
    Hope all this helps!
    As an ex pyschiatric nurse, I can say that there wouldn’t usually be a hospital or clinic in-patient stay unless there was a major breakdown. Lesser issues are usually kept out-patient.
    Good luck, Craig. I’m looking forward to the release 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hm, tough call. On one hand, I can see Lizzie having problems. It fits with her characterization. On the other, I love the lighthearted nature of the series. What if the Hat counseled her? That could be hilarious while still dealing with her concerns.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Like Mae and Staci, I also think of this series as light-hearted and fun. It might change the whole tone if you take it in a different direction. That being said, you know your characters best, Craig.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve no doubt you can construct narratives of character depth and psychological complexity, but that’s not really your vibe. (I hate the word brand) You’ve got to keep it light for Lizzie and I think you can do that, just need to think on it some more.
    I’ve read some bummer books, but I do not reread bummer books.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m someone who hates cliffhangers with a passion. However, what you describe doesn’t sound like something that would be an issue based on the genre. You’re showing the effects on Lizzie, and will continue to do that in later books, and the adventure itself is wrapped up properly, so it would be fine to let the spacifics happen off-page between books.

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