inviting the reader to join in the fun

so i’m thinking about this story by lord dunsanay

idle days on the yann

in which the narrator describes a lengthy journey he took on a river through a fabulous magical world, without ever really getting down to specifics like “names” or “actual dialogue”

and i’m thinking about this book by h p lovecraft

the dream-quest of randolph carter

in which is described a lengthy journey a man took through a fabulous magical world, with a certain amount of attention paid to grovelling around in the death-pits and charnel-houses of this world, as is to be expected from that ol’ necrophile howard, without ever really getting down to specifics like “names” or “actual dialogue”

and i’m thinking about this trilogy by jo clayton

skeen’s leap, skeen’s return, and skeen’s search

in which is described a lengthy journey a woman took through a fabulous world of fallen science, ancient mysteries, and what she took from that journey back to her far future world

and within which the chapter titles get increasingly playful, including one title that goes on for a couple of pages of large boldface where clayton explicitly says that she sat here at a crucial juncture of the story, pondering her options, and had a hard time deciding which one to do; she lists the options she considered, she talks about their pros and cons, and invites you to pick one and write your own, should you care to – turn the page and you’ll see which one she chose, how would the version in your head differ?

and i’m just thinking about how all of these stories share one important thing: they invite the reader to help finish them. the dunsanay and lovecraft merely do this by their sparseness; the clayton does it explicitly.

and, you know, this is how the next generation of storytellers happens.

i am thinking about this because i just spent a half an hour stoned off my ass and working up some ideas for a tv adaptation of zelazny’s amber series as an accidental writing prompt, until i remembered that roger supposedly wanted nobody to write in his world after he died, and while i’m fine with respecting that i got started thinking about how easy it was for me to do that and how similar it was to those things i’d read, and found fascinating, and why.

(and then while i was thinking about lovecraft my nostrils were suddenly suffused with the scent of death and decay; it may have been something outgassing from the new trash can i had delivered yesterday and only just now opened; it may have been a brief visitation by the spirit of HPL or some minion of his born-decaying dream-world; i covered both of these possibilities by opening the windows and demanding COME NOT IN ThIS FORm or somesuch)

anyway, i guess i should get back to work drawing this comic about a vampire lady telling a story, maybe i can work a casual invitation to tell your own stories into it somewhere

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