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The Education of Tyler Prescott

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  • 4 weeks later...

I loved how this story progressed, but the last chapter sure seemed rushed. Perhaps there wasn't much more to say about Tyler's education, but it felt like Alan just wanted the story to be over. Further, summarizing the rest of Tyler's life in a single paragraph only heightened the sense that there was a lot left out. I've read quite a few stories where the ending feels rushed and the reader is always left with the feeling that they've been shortchanged. In many ways, I think it's better to end a story sooner and to leave some threads hanging, so long as the ending is satisfying. Alternatively, the entire story can be told as a flashback, which provides a framework for summarizing things in the end.

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Thank you all for your comments. AD Author, I think I did think of the whole story as a flashback. Certainly, he was talking about the past. But I do admit I have troubles ending stories.  When I posted "Unfinished Symphony" several people wanted to know what happened next. In fact, I tried to write a sequel but could never make it work.  Anyway, I do thank you for writing and will certainly keep your thoughtful comments in mind.

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I’m impressed by the care that has gone into writing this very complex story.  The story of Billy was in itself a heart-breaker to read and I’m sure, to write.  The long road back from that terrible experience was so filled with lows and occasional highs that, reading it chapter by chapter, each week I had no real confidence that Tyler was going to make it.  Even the eventual outcome seemed a torturous, drawn-out experience, filled with important self-discoveries gained at the cost of time and postponed commitment.  The story, for me, actually ends at the moment of insight and decision that occurs a week into Tyler’s first semester at college, for he has finally come to terms with himself and with the life path that lies ahead. 

Thanks for writing it.

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I guess the end of a story comes when the author has reached the point he's been directing the text to from the beginning.  I know I have to have an ending in mind when I begin or I rarely finish the story.  The ending doesn't have to be what is most satisfying to a reader; it's more where the author has been leading us, and when he knows that he's accomplished what he started out to say. 

Of course, it's also best if the reader is as satisfied as he is.  But the story belongs more to the writer than the reader.  I guess it's a delicate balance.  I myself like to leave the readers feeling the story has ended at a place that makes sense.  They often do want more, of course.  That simply means they got to know and like the characters.  But if we've provided them with closure, they can also see that the point of the story, why it was written, has been reached, and if we'd go on, we'd be writing a new story.





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It amazes me how different authors go about writing their stories in different ways. On the one had there are authors like GA's Comicality, who writes long soap opera-like stories that never end. On the other hand are authors like Merkin, who writes very brief stories and stitches them together to form a whole. Some authors start posting long before a story is complete, and others don't publish until the story is finished, edited, beta read and reread. My favorite genre is writing short story collections, as I can write each story as an independent unit that builds on previous stories, without worrying where the series may be heading. However, I've also written full novels such as Legacy and Conversations with Myself, which was the most complex story I've ever written. In both cases I had a clear vision of where I wanted the story to go, but both took unexpected directions and the endings ended up being dramatically different than originally planned. Some authors use an outline to be sure they stay on-track. My stories are mostly character-driven and can be as unpredictable as the characters within them. I like to think that makes the stories seem more real in the end.

Alan, your story was excellent as always. I agree with Merkin that the first semester in college was the right place to end it. The final paragraph was probably something better left to the imagination of the reader, but it's your story to tell and not mine. I'd love to see a sequel to Unfinished Symphony - that was a great story! For a lot of authors, once a story ends, they prefer to move onto something else. Others write endless sequels because they can't let go. Since I tend to write short story collections, I'm always writing sequels, but I always bring my stories to an end. Sometimes a reader suggests something I hadn't thought of and that becomes the basis of a sequel.

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I agree that the ending seemed kind of abrupt. 

A couple of other things I missed or was puzzled by:

1   How could TJ possibly imagine that the whole school hadn't already figured him out?

2   Presumably Tyler said goodbye to Billy at the cemetery before the family moved. I kind of expected some kind of reflection back on Billy at the very end.  

But i thoroughly enjoyed the story.  




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