Afterword

That’s it – you’ve reached an end point. There are other ways of reaching the same place, and there are different endings, too.

This is, I acknowledge, a short story – I might do a longer one at some point – but I wanted to use it to explore something that’s been bothering me for a while. when I write a story, I’m making the choices that you made, but when I’m done, I’m left thinking, “what if he’d turned left rather than right? What if she’d chosen not to pick up the knife?” As the author, you’re responsible for decisions you present to the reader, using your craft and skill to weave a satisfying and entertaining tale out of the sticks and puffs of smoke you start with. But any story, right from the off, can go a hundred different ways, and it was interesting to see what would happen if I put some of those into the text.

The other concept I wanted to explore was inevitability. How much are we in control of our own narrative, and how much of our lives are simply how we react to situations? When I was writing What We Do At Night, I was struck by how often the story diverged, then arced back on itself, propelling the protagonist to a fixed number of points that were emotionally satisfying. There was no choice to walk away, for the exact reason that books don’t have that, but by giving you a set of parameters – get the job, keep the job – I hopefully successfully constrained your choices in the same way a protagonist in a story has their choices constrained by external and internal considerations: culture, events, relationships and character.

Of course, you can go around again. If you’ve made just one run through Pegasus Tower, then there’s plenty more to explore. If you want to go back to the start, you can by clicking here.

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