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Motivational Story

A Nebula Award winner, Hugo Award nominee, and winner in the Writers of the Future Contest, Eric James Stone has had stories published in Yearís Best SF 15, Analog, Nature, and Kevin J. Andersonís Blood Lite anthologies of humorous horror, among other venues. Among those other venues, Daily Science Fiction has published several of his stories.

If you'd like, visit Eric's home page and read more about and by him: ericjamesstone.com/blog/home.

You start reading a story, and realize it seems to be in second person, present tense, like one of those Choose Your Own Adventure stories. But it's not. This story is actually in epistolary format--a message from me to you. I've chosen this method of communication with you because it's unobtrusive, and you can always dismiss it as being just a story.
Who am I? Well, I'm an author, obviously. The more important question is: Who are you? And the answer is: You are the protagonist of my current work in progress, a novel about--Well, that would involve some spoilers.
By now, you're having a hard time suspending disbelief. You think it's highly unlikely that you are living in a novel being written by somebody. You want proof. I don't blame you--I'd feel the same in your position.
If I'm really your author, then I would know your backstory. I would know things about you that you've never let anybody else know about. And I could put one of those things in the next paragraph, addressing you specifically by name, and then you would know for certain that I am your author.
But I'm not going to do that, for two reasons. First, you're not the only person reading this story, and it would be rather embarrassing for you in your world if the other people reading this found out about certain things in your life. But more importantly, if you knew for certain that you were the protagonist in someone's novel, that would really change the way you acted. For example, you would know that you could not die (at least, not until your life story had reached some sort of dramatic climax) and I don't want you engaging in unreasonably risky behavior that would lead you into situations I would then have to write you out of.
So why send you this message at all?
Well, you're not quite the character I anticipated when I started writing you.
Don't get me wrong--you're a fine person with many admirable qualities. You also have flaws that humanize you. That's all good. I'm not criticizing you as a person. I'm criticizing you as the protagonist of my novel. And you have to admit, your life so far is not quite best-seller material.
Now, you may think it's wrong of me to criticize you as a character for not living a best-seller life. "That's a plotting issue," you might say. "If my life isn't novel-worthy, it's because you haven't given my life a novel-worthy plot."
Fair enough. I'll confess to not being an outliner. I'm more of a seat-of-my-pants type writer, so I don't exactly know where this novel is going, and I'll probably end up discarding the first couple of chapters, which I've written basically to get a feel for you as a character.
Now that I do know what kind of person you are, I've run into a problem. In the very near future, you'll face a decision where one choice would take you so far out of your comfort zone that it seems a little unrealistic that you would take that route. But that's the choice you need to make in order to go on the adventure of your lifetime (or possibly several adventures, if my agent can get the publisher to agree to a multi-book deal.)
That's why you're reading this story: so I can include a line about how you'd recently read a brilliant story (okay, I'm laying it on a bit thick there) that had made you think about how you sometimes need to make choices that take you out of your comfort zone. It's your motivation for doing something that might otherwise be slightly out of character.
Now that you've read this, I'm hoping you'll make the decision to choose your own adventure.
Thanks, and good luck!
(You're going to need it.)
The End
This story was first published on Monday, October 13th, 2014

Author Comments

I've been looking for a protagonist for my next series of adventures for some time. You should feel honored that I finally decided on you.

- Eric James Stone
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