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A Vindication of the Rights of Readers

Woman holding books; concept of knowledge; A Vindication of the Rights of Readers

Have you ever read a book that was really great right up until the very end? Everything was going fine, the hero was going to end up with the heroine, and everyone would live happily ever after…or so you thought. Then, in the last ten pages, the author decides to slap you in the face and make the entire thing a tragedy. Surprise! And to make things worse, whatever happened before has now been rendered completely meaningless which could have easily been avoided.

I remember a trilogy I read years ago (I won’t name names) that was absolutely perfect and riveting. I became married to this series, eagerly awaiting each new installment. I was surprised at first by the author’s choice in romantic pairings, but by the end, I was rooting wholeheartedly for them. Unfortunately, I was not prepared for the author to decide to stab me in the heart at the very last second. For no apparent reason, the author decided to kill off the hero in the last ten pages. As far as I can tell his death served no thematic purpose whatsoever.

RELATED: Check out Autumn’s blog post Why Happily Ever After Deserves Our Respect.

After years of following the lives of these characters, I’ll be honest, I felt betrayed. My poor little brain simply could not handle the, in my opinion, senseless death. So, what did I do, you ask? I did the only thing I could think of that would give me peace of mind. I rewrote the ending as I thought it should be. Yes, folks, I took out pen and paper and wrote my own ending to the story.

Now, some might argue I was impinging on the author’s right to their interpretation of their story and how it should end. But, I ask you, what about the rights of the reader? Don’t we have a say as to what stays in our mind long after we have finished a book? We are all entitled to our own interpretation, and in my case that sometimes involves a reinterpretation of the ending.

Since that first life-changing choice, I have occasionally decided to rewrite the endings of stories, be they in books, television series, or movies. I feel absolutely no shame in it, and it certainly helps me sleep better at night. So, take it how you will. Do you hate the very idea? Or, do you secretly refashion endings as well? Give me your thoughts on the matter.

But hey, at least I’m in good company. L.M. Montgomery’s heroine Emily Byrd Starr loved to rewrite endings too.

With that said, are there any Book/Film/TV  endings you would have changed? Sound off below.



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By on August 30th, 2013

About Rebecca Lane

Rebecca Lane grew up in the hot desert landscape of Tucson, Arizona where she decided early on she wanted to write, if only to mentally escape her blistering surroundings. She has always been enamored of the arts and literature. As a child she often wrote short stories, and rewrote the endings of novels that she simply could not abide. She received her Undergraduate degree from Sarah Lawrence College in New York, where she was lucky enough to also spend a year studying at Oxford University. While she began her journey dreaming of the day she would sing opera in a large Manhattan theater, she found in the end she could not stand waitressing and simply could not give up books and her hopes of someday writing them. She is currently working as a freelance writer/editor and earning her Masters in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

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3 thoughts on “A Vindication of the Rights of Readers”

  1. Yes. I’ve always secretly decided that Josephine March and Laurie in Little Women got together. He couldn’t have married Amy, he had loved Jo for almost his whole life.

  2. That is why I always read the last chapter first to see if I’m going to like the book before I invest in reading the whole book


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