Adventures in Writing a Novel

Reader Entitlement: How far is too far? #amwriting #writing #author

A couple of months ago I wrote a post asking authors how they would feel if Hollywood screwed up their books when making it into a movie.

The topic came to mind sometime after the announcement that the last Divergent movie was shelved and would be turned into a TV series instead.

I’ve always been curious as to what author Veronica Roth has thought on the subject. Is she pissed? Is she okay with it? Has she openly said anything about it? So with that curiosity, I decided to comb through the internet looking for any interview with her to find out. Instead, though, I came across something that I’m really not quite sure how I feel about.

While apart of me understands the readers to a certain point, the other part of me can’t believe the audacity that people have. Of course, I shouldn’t be shocked, we do live in an ever growing “I deserve everything I want because I’m me” society, but still, I can’t imagine dealing with this as an author.

So what did I find?

Readers that were so pissed off that they didn’t get the ending they deserve in Allegiant so they not only sent her death threats and rewrote their own endings (and used it to boost their own writing), but also organized petitions to have her ending changed. Okay, so the death threats is probably the worst of it, but . . .

It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of Fan Fiction. To me, it’s a form of stealing. If you want to write a story or create a world, then make up your own characters and world. Don’t steal someone else’s and then use it to create a platform to possibly pad your pockets. Granted, I know that most Fan Fiction writers don’t make any money, however, E.L. James certainly isn’t standing in the unemployment line after turning her Twilight Fan Fiction into 5o Shades of Grey.

I’m not the only author who feels this way either. It’s been no secret that Stephanie Meyer, GRR Martin, and Anne Rice have quite the animosity toward it, especially George since he is a panster author and has to worry about the liability Fan Fiction comes with. There is a risk that while he’s writing his infamous Game of Thrones series, he could unknowingly write something similar to something a Fan Fiction writer wrote, giving said writer the ability to sue for royalties. Don’t believe it could happen? It could and it did with author Marion Zimmer Bradley.

Fan Fiction is stealing. Period. Want to write? Then build your own world and build your own characters.

Of course, that’s just one side of this coin.

As stated in this bustle.com article.

“In her blog, Roth said, “I wasn’t thinking about any readers when I wrote this book; I was thinking about the story.” But was that her mistake? Should she have been looking to her fans and how she could meet their hopes for the novel’s ending? Whether you disagree with Roth’s ending or not — and you have to admit she at least makes a compelling argument for sacrificing Tris to the story — her comment about not thinking about her readers is troublesome.”

 

Um, her mistake? Uh, no, she didn’t make a mistake. It’s her story. It’s her world. It’s her characters. If she wants to write the story a certain way, then it’s HER CHOICE!

Her comment isn’t troublesome at all, but the one the journalist made in this article sure is. Should she have been looking to her fans and how she could meet their hopes for the novel’s ending? Uh, nope. And that’s a big nope with a pop on the letter p. It’s her story, not the readers.

It’s suppose to meet HER hopes, not theirs.

Authors shouldn’t write for the reader. They should write for themselves. No author can please everyone, there is always someone that will be offended or upset with the way we end our novels, so all we can do is write for us. Writing for the reader would drive an author batty and force each book to have multiple endings. It would also force authors to stick to genre rules and never think outside the box or push our creative envelopes.

You got to hand it to Ms. Roth, though. She has stuck with her guns with defending her ending. She wrote her book for her, and she’s not backed down when asked about it interviews like in the one I found on Goodreads.com.

“SPOILER ALERT: The end of Allegiant left fans reeling. You’ve said, “I felt [Tris] had earned an ending that was as powerful as she was.” Many readers still had questions. Katie says, “I had a really hard, emotional (!!) time with Tris’s death. Was it hard for you to decide to write it into Allegiant or did you know all along that the series would end with her demise?” Elw also had an interesting question: “What made you feel that the loyalty to her family members and the love for her brother was more important to her than the love and loyalty to Four?”

To respond to Katie’s question: It wasn’t really an either/or situation; it was both an extremely difficult decision and a decision that I made very early on in the series (after finishing the rough draft of Divergent, in fact). Ultimately it was the ending that felt most true to Tris’s character, and I was determined that she should end up exactly where she had chosen to go. The hard part was not actually letting her go there; it was writing about Tobias in the aftermath. But Tobias ended up in what feels to me like an equally powerful place—he finds strength in friendship and its considerable capacity to heal.

As for Elw’s question, it wasn’t about measuring Tris’s love for Caleb against her love for Four at all. I’m not even sure that would make sense to her, trying to devise some kind of ranking system for the people she cares about. She has a strong sense of right and wrong that she communicates (quite forcefully) to Caleb earlier in the book—she tells him she would never deliver him to his execution, the way he did to her in Insurgent. So if anything, her decision is about the kind of person she wants to be, not the result of greater affection for one person over another. The Tris we know wouldn’t let her last remaining family member—who is scared out of his mind—go to certain death when she has the power to spare him.”

From the sounds of it all, Ms. Roth was doing what we, as authors, always do. We write our stories and stay true to our characters.

I’m sorry if that doesn’t fit into a readers perfect little box, but guess what, people, the world isn’t perfect, and if you want that kind of perfection then sit down in front of your computer, spend countless hours away from your friends and family, and pen your own novel with your perfect ending. Don’t go demanding or organizing a change.org petition to change the ending of the last movie and to force the author into an ending you think you deserve. And, certainly, don’t rewrite our stories, using a lot of our words (which by this woman’s admission she did just that), words we thought of, words from our minds, words we slaved over.

You don’t deserve a new ending. You don’t deserve anything.

The author, however, does deserve to not have her work stolen just because you want to be a child and throw a temper tantrum because you didn’t get your way. And she most certainly does deserve to live a life without threat because you didn’t get the ending to her book that you wanted. Man, this entitled society is getting so annoying.

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One thought on “Reader Entitlement: How far is too far? #amwriting #writing #author

  1. Truly crazy. I watched the TV show Mad Men on Netflix from the beginning (in binges) and was disappointed in the ending. In my mind, a certain character does not die, but that’s only in my mind. How anyone could think they should change something is ridiculous.

    On the subject of fan fiction, it seems to me it’s done more than people realize. Take the play Wicked, for example. I loved the music from the play, but the story completely changed the original plot line of The Wizard of Oz. The evil witch wasn’t really evil at all. I was sorely disappointed. The original had such a heart lesson about life, and it wasn’t just that “there’s no place like home.” It was actually a much deeper message than that platitude if people paid attention. Then suddenly, they changed the story and that deep meaning is gone.

    I actually really loved the movie “Oz the Great and Powerful,” but that is fan fiction as well. It’s one author’s character and world being built upon with a different author in that author’s own way. Remember when the sequel to Gone with the Wind was written? The original author, Mitchell, said she wanted no sequel. With her dead and no one else owning the copyright, a new author came along and used that world to create a new story. I remember reading it and being completely disgusted with what she did to Scarlett’s character.

    Having said that, Mad Men is a show I would’ve loved to have written for and do my own things with those characters. None of the characters had integrity or morality. I would’ve liked to have written in at least one character that stirred things up because they had some virtue. I also would love to write for a spin off for one or many of those characters. So I guess, this is a sort of dilemma. I don’t like fan fiction either, but boy would I love to take on Don and Betty Draper with my own words….not that I would. 😉

    Thanks for the opportunity to do my own rant in your comment box. 😛

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