Rethinking a Finished Story

Recently J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series of books (if that needed to be clarified), admitted that Hermione should have ended up with Harry Potter instead of Ron.

Now, I’ll admit that I never read any of the books, but my partner read all of them. So for him, I did see the movies as they came out on DVD. I think that shortly after the story begins, everyone assumes that Harry and Hermione will end up together.

Knowing the intensity of some fans, I can’t imagine the flack she must have received when H&H didn't become a couple. I suppose there was a renewed outcry from the Ron/Hermione (Romione?) camp when she announced that their relationship shouldn't have happened.

I would never presume to tell Ms. Rowling that I disagree with her. Though I do. To me, the fact that it didn't end with Harry and Hermione together was unexpected…and that’s a good thing in stories. However, I can relate on a much smaller scale; I've had those who objected to some of the actions of my characters, or reacted to things that happened to them.

“I don’t like that _______ ended up with _______.”

“_______ should be with _______.”

“Why did you kill _______?”

“Would _______ really do that?”

“_______ is gay.” or “_______ is gay?”

“There is no way that _______ didn’t sleep with _______!”

It’s gratifying that people care enough about my characters to have opinions about such matters, and to take the time to share them with me. (All of the above are based on actual comments I've received.)

But this I can tell you: the characters that a writer creates are intimate; no one knows them better than we do. In fact, we know things about the characters that may not even show up in the finished book; it’s essential for us to know who they are and why they do what they do. (If you remember, it was Rowling who revealed that Dumbledore was gay after the final book had been published.)

Moreover, I can identify with Ms. Rowling having second thoughts about what she wrote. (Not that I question her choices. After all she’s made millions on her books and I've made…well, less.) Maybe it happens to all authors, but once the book is published, and time passes…it’s easy to look back and think of details we wished we'd included…or left out. How our characters could have been changed. Perhaps we even re-think how the story wrapped up.

But most of us don’t have the luxury of going back to a finished book and making significant alterations once it’s been published.
Even typos are usually there to mock us forever. (Blame it on the editors!)

When writing the book, we struggle with how and when to bring the story to a logical and satisfying conclusion. But at some point, we must realize that what we want to say has been written. Yes, in 10 years we (and others) might question some of our decisions, but there comes a time when we must figuratively type those words: