I realize that a Happily Ever After is mandatory. Hey, I like a Happily Ever After as well as the next girl. (Though, with one of my books, “Annie’s Wild Ride,” there was a rather vigorous debate on-line as to whether my hero and heroine would be able to stick it out for the long haul. My personal feeling? No. Sorry.)
But, here’s the thing. If I’ve just invested three hundred pages into falling in love with a couple, I want to know what happens post-Happily Ever After. (I.e. I came for the wedding and brought a nice gift. Why can’t I come on the honeymoon, too?)
I suspect my desire for seeing the story continue comes from thirty years of watching soaps. And almost twenty years of working in them. I started at ABC Daytime, then moved over to As the World Turns and Guiding Light. I produced the official websites and wrote tie-in novels like “Oakdale Confidential,” “The Man From Oakdale,” and “Jonathan’s Story” (with Julia London).
And I dealt with the fans. On Message Boards, through e-mail, at Fan Club Events. And here is what I learned: Fans have very strong opinions about what they want to happen next with their favorite characters. And their ideas aren’t bad. (Also, their ideas are wildly divergent. For everyone who loves A with B, there’s someone who loves A with C. Not to be confused with those who love C with B. Or those who think all three are getting way too much airtime over D, E and F.)
In 2009, while still at P&G Productions, I developed a property called www.AnotherWorldToday.com, a twice-weekly serial where, at the end, the readers got to vote on what they wanted to see happen next.
It was a fascinating process to watch. Not only was there no such thing as a landslide win for any poll, but some would literally flip-flop for days between 49% percent pro and 51% con, and vice versa. (Seriously the 2000 presidential election was less contested.)
This basically meant that, whatever I ultimately did, half my audience would be unhappy with the result. There’s no business like show business, I guess!
Knowing this going in, I did what any self-destructive (er, I meant self-respecting, I’m sure) writer with hopes of a long-term, successful career would do: I created my own original book series, putting the power of plotting into the hands of my readers. (I also prayed a lot and wondered what the hell I was thinking.)
“Counterpoint: An Interactive Family Saga (Volume One)” is currently out on Amazon. At the end, there are links to click (God, I love technology) for readers to express their opinions about what should happen next. When “Counterpoint: An Interactive Family Saga (Volume Two)” is released next month, their suggestions will be incorporated. And so on into Volume Three. And Four. And…
How hard could that be?
Write a book a month, taking into consideration wildly different opinions, while keeping everyone equally happy.
Yup. I think I meant self-destructive, after all.
Alina Adams is the New York Times’ best selling author of soap opera tie-ins, figure skating mysteries, and romances, including Annie’s Wild Ride and When a Man Loves a Woman. Her latest project is Counterpoint: An Interactive Family Saga. In addition to turning her own backlist into enhanced e-books, she has produced enhanced e-books for others, including Dan Elish, whose middle-grade fantasy novel, The Worldwide Dessert Contest, now includes its own original musical score. Learn more at http://www.AlinaAdamsMedia.com