July 11th, 2006

wood cat

Readercon panel: "The Beginnings of Stories and the Endings They Promise"


Michael A. Burstein (M), John Clute, Debra Doyle, Geary Gravel, China Miéville, Delia Sherman

There are, perhaps, three kinds of beginnings to stories: those that promise no ending, those that promise an ending which is later delivered, and those that promise a different ending than the one provided. Are these, in fact, three fundamentally different types of stories? What are the different types of promises a beginning can make? The first line of Pride and Prejudice ("It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife") or the last line of the first chapter of The Book of the New Sun ("It was in this fashion that I began the long journey by which I have backed into the throne") make promises about the content of the ending, but many beginnings merely promise the form of the ending ("there will be a twist of some sort").

My first panel of the con, so my hands were fresh and fast, and I had time shortly after to review my notes against my memory.

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[Edit: compare yhlee's panel notes.]