Character development, sex scenes, funny scenes, denouement, poetic angst, thematic issues, science and infodump are all cheerfully announced and placed one at a time, as well as the author’s own foibles. For example “And here could run yet another moody flashback concerning Lena’s relationship with John, dropped in to provide color and poignancy, augmenting the mood of despair,” and my favorite: “Most science-fiction writers are drunks and almost all of them have unhappy lives.”
This is a book that I took on my trip to Toronto and then to Clarion. I finished the last chapters of this book after I returned from Michigan, which is also coincidental because Malzberg discusses in glorious detail exactly what endings should accomplish in a story, which is something that was a struggle for me at Clarion, and in general!
So, as my lesson on those elusive endings, I quote the author: “Cunningly it has been built into the construct from the very outset. It is a characteristic of a certain kind of well-structured fiction that it will lead toward a resolution which in retrospect may appear inevitable but which in fact is only one of a series of choices which could have been made and which, in the fact of its selection, has become the transmutative force of the work, has cast back little slices of light from which the novel, read once again, may acquire additional depth. The proper ending for the writer, then, is not so much constructed as discovered; it is a matter of working through the material consciously or subconsciously so that the ending is seen retrospectively as having been in place all along, not to be recognized until the point of its organic extension from the material.”