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When it comes to works in a series — novels, films, television, it doesn’t matter which — I like playing the how-would-I-end-this game.  It’s the fiction-writing equivalent of that improvisational drama exercise where you have to construct a skit around four or five random objects drawn from a grab bag (an argyle sock, a popsicle stick, an outdated guidebook to Tblisi on Five Dollars a Day, and a fishing lure with the hook snipped off…you have ten minutes to brainstorm with your group and then we’ll begin) –the idea is to get from where you are to an acceptable victory condition in five moves or less.

It’s an amusing game; but while I’m playing it I have to keep a firm grasp on the fact that the story I’m ending in my head is, despite any surface resemblances, a different story than the one the author is ending.