Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Opinion, Rant, Same Thing: After Novel Content

Long time, no "ORST" right? Well, not anymore. Time for one of my favorite segments!

Today's topic: after novel content (the future of the novel's characters, their pets, the town in which the story is set, etc.).

Imagine yourself sitting in your favorite reading spot, sucked into the ending of the last book in an amazing series. You flip the pages, almost ripping them off; you're so anxious to find out the ending. Then you turn the last page and it's over.

Obviously you want more. It can't be over. What happens after? Do they get married? If they do, how many kids do they have? Boys or girls? Do they get a pet?

This is the nature of "after book content". The reader wants more and wishes to know the fate after the novel (sometimes what happened before the novel even starts). I'm no exception. My mind still wanders and wonders after a book and/or series is finished. 

Some authors, like J.K. Rowling (author of the Harry Potter books), give limited answers about what happens after the last page of the final book is written. Like in this documentary, J.K. Rowling gives some answers about the fates of her characters beyond what she's already written for the public (through her drawing of a diagram). She states, "it gives me a certain satisfaction to say what I thought happened and to tell other people that. Because I would like my version to be the official version, still, even though I haven't written it in a book... 'cause it's my world." 

Others, like John Green (author reviewed on Inkspiration for Looking For Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines) respond to this, saying that they don't know. Green insists, "I don’t know what happens to anyone outside the text of the novel. I have access to the exact same text that you do, and any speculation on my part about the characters or events outside the text of the novel would be no more informed or authoritative than your speculation."

As a reader this can be extremely frustrating. How can they not know? They're the author! They know their characters better than anyone. How could they not imagine a future for them?

However, now that I'm also a writer, I can understand Green's logic. At one point I tried imagining a future for Tyler, Emma, Jackie, and all the other characters of At Second Glance. I was all ready to set it all in stone, to show what kind of awesome author I was. I know exactly what's going to happen to my characters even after the novel ends. When in fact, I don't. The truth is that the world is uncertain. I'd like to think Emma and Tyler would get married, but I can't possibly know that. They're both very different people. Besides the fact that I assume they'd go to different colleges (and we all know how hard long distance relationships are), I can't suffice to say they get married because I say so. It doesn't feel right or real. 

This forces the realization that authors are not gods. Yes, they invented a story, but they don't need to imagine a future for the characters in order to write their character's present. The futures of Hazel Grace and Katniss Everdeen are just as unpredictable as your own future.

It'd be just as difficult for an author to tell you where a character would be in twenty years as it would for you to answer the same question about yourself.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Leave a coment below! 

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