Endings are tough. You need to tie up as many dangling threads as possible, leave the reader satisfied that reading the book was worthwhile, and try to go out on a memorable high note without it feeling abrupt or forced.
That’s something I wrote a dozen years ago in the commentary post for the final (pre-epilogue) chapter of Timely Persuasion. It still applies to L Extreme, perhaps even more so for this type of book. I wanted to wrap things up without completely spelling it out so the reader had room to figure it out for themselves. And on top of that I had to work in references to the closing song, adding another layer of complexity.
Though I wrote much of L Extreme out of order in the first draft, I intentionally left the last song as the last song. I also procrastinated for several days, perhaps subconsciously not wanting this project to end. One day I finally decided enough was enough. I put “Baby, It’s Your Life!” on repeat and declared I wasn’t doing anything else until it was done. I wrote 4 separate endings back to back. 2.5 of them were later merged to become the grand finale.
Sometimes you just need to appreciate the last song for what it is.
- If you need to weave lyrics from the final song into the final chapter, “Don’t freak out!” is a pretty nifty way to begin the ending.
- The trippiest alternate ending revealed L behind the door—but also inside the apartment at the same time. Very David Lynch, but not quite right for LX.
- Evilon changing his name to Elon when he’s “not so evil anymore” is a plot point from LILILIL. Back when that album was recorded Elon Musk wasn’t nearly as famous as he is today. Benji Hughes told me he just added that bit out of the blue on a prescient whim without any knowledge of the future billionaire. I suggested to him that if we lived in a simulation, Elon Musk created it. Art imitates life imitates art, etc, etc. It’s DQ waitresses all the way down.
- I’d known for awhile that everything in L Extreme had to culminate in the creation of the actual A Love Extreme album, but wasn’t sure exactly how to pull that off until future Evilon/Elon conjured it out of thin air.
- DJ lives upstairs with C, “spinning all your favorite tunes” = “a little woman lives in your brain, singing all your favorite songs.”
- In Timely Persuasion, there’s an early scene where the narrator takes a nap that gets revisited later for a fakeout “was it all a dream?” ending. In L Extreme, there’s an early scene where Benji & Jessica mediate with the lights out that gets revisited here as a “definitely not a dream since dreams are real” ending. I honestly never noticed that parallel until right now.
- DJ spins Hotel California for two reasons: “Pretty Maids All In A Row” is Jessica’s favorite song. Also, “you can check out anytime you want, but you can never leave” nicely complements the reveal here.
- Finding a way to bring back the jambox one last time while also tying it to the skipped over “I’ve got something in my pocket: Eagles tickets! Front row, Joe Walsh girl…” lyric from “The Mummy” let me know my work here was done.
- The final coda picks up where LILILIL begins, indicating A Love Extreme is complete and the mind of Benji Hughes is starting to work out his next project. I hadn’t planned on doing an epilogue, but when I realized I could call it an EpiLILILILogue I knew I couldn’t pass that up.