Dogberry wrote:I hope I phrase this delicately and respectfully. I can't help but keep coming back to this ending and feeling sad. When they were together, did Aggie ever say "I love you," to Penny? And why do the other characters still have stories to tell, but not P &A? Your last answer sounded like maybe you wrote them into a place you didn't want to take them. Is that part of ending it like this? Don't take me wrong - I thought the ending is masterful and true to the themes you've laid out. And I can imagine them continuing to grow as people and as lovers. But I feel like I've missed too much of their lives to be fully satisfied.
Sometime during the Popsicle War, I got pretty sure that Penny and Aggie would at least give a relationship a shot, and things got clearer from there over the course of the next year. I'm rarely upset when characters write themselves. It usually saves me work. (Sometimes, yes, I do make careful plans and watch my characters ruin all my preparation. But that didn't happen here.)
Aggie did say "I love you" eventually, but it was at a time when they were already close to separating.
Part of the reason this story skips around a bit in time is this: I didn't want to force developments in the relationship to happen faster than they realistically would, and I also didn't want to bore you. Early drafts had Penny and Aggie's high school relationship messily imploding at the end of August, as the pressures of college and their unaddressed communication issues crushed them. But when I got there, it became clear that they had worked too hard on it to give up so easily. And yet it was also clear to me that the problems were too big for them to overcome, as they were in high school. So the last August scene lays the groundwork
for their breakup. Watching them go through a cycle of diminishing returns in the autumn months, before finally ending with one last inevitable fight, strikes me as both depressing and boring, because you'd have a pretty good idea what was going to happen after the first couple of pages. I don't think this particular format can stay interesting without suspense and the possibility of surprise. There are ways to add such elements to a breakup story, but not as a follow-up to the story told in "May" through "August."
Similar issues are why "SSL" confined itself to a single conversation between the leads, albeit spread out over an evening. It's a pacing thing.
As for why other characters have stories to tell, but not P&A-- your mileage may vary, of course, but I feel like "Summer" explored a metric crapton of ideas, angles and perspectives on the idea of Penny and Aggie as a couple, which was the last Big Idea I had for them. (Things like applying to college, senior prom, senioritis and graduation day just didn't hold a lot of interest for me, frankly.) I feel like anything else that focuses on these two would be an anticlimax next to that.