I had an entirely different post planned for my writing tonight, but I’ll save that for tomorrow. It’s going to be a hell of a rant, so you’re going to want to check back. Instead, this post is a call to my fellow writers, especially those who have slipped into the complacency of what I call “Famous Writer’s Syndrome.” This is where the writer gets so big and popular that he or she can put any old drivel onto the page and sell it, more to the point, even if that book tanks, the writer’s name/brand is so strong that he or she can expect to sell the next one or half-dozen books too, just on name recognition alone.
Right before I sat down to write this post, I was checking up on social media, and I saw this link to Buzzfeed on Facebook. (WARNING: CONTAINS HARRY POTTER SPOILERS.) It’s titled “Can You Get Through These Harry Potter Facts Without Tearing Up?” with the sub-heading “Spoiler: No, no you can’t. Unless you’re a Dementor. You aren’t a Dementor, are you?” The article has 15 factiods of the Harry Potter universe that either connect little things in the books, or are behind scenes stuff from Ms. Rowling. Well, apparently, I’m a Dementor. I didn’t tear up once. I thought, okay, that’s cool, a few times. Some made me roll my eyes, thinking why do I care? One even left me staring at the screen, thinking, um…duh…she pretty much did everything she could to shove that one down our throats without actually telling us. Then, I got to the last one…and it pissed me off…as in…even thinking back on it, I had to pull my hands away from my laptop to make sure I didn’t fling it across the room pissed off.
This concerns a very tiny, small spoiler for the epilogue of the whole story at the end of book seven, so if you are uber anal about spoilers, you’ve been warned.
The article claims that Rowling has admitted she almost wrote Dudley into the epilogue, standing on Platform 9 3/4 with a magical child.
Now, I haven’t thought this all through, but my knee-jerk reaction was, “HOLY CRAP!!! THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN FRACKING AWESOME!!!” I mean, come on…We have Harry and Draco nodding to each other. Not friendly in anyway, never that, but still having a bit of closure to that bit of the books. Hearing that we almost had a moment like that with Dudley, someone who stomped on Harry throughout Harry’s childhood and was the last tie to Harry’s Muggle life, and also showing that the magic is still running through Lily’s bloodline would have been one fantastic moment of full-circle storytelling.
The more I write about this, the more pissed off I am at Ms. Rowling for not doing this. If you can think of any conceivable reason for this choice, please explain it in the comments, because I think not putting that into the book is one of the greatest missed opportunities in literary history. It my take the place of this (Warning: Lord of the Rings spoilers) as my number one moment in a book I actually enjoyed that let me down. In the previous rant, I can understand why Tolkien made the choice he did. I don’t like it, but I can understand it. This lack of Dudley… I… do… not… get. Now that I know that might have happened, I see it as the most flawed bit of the Harry Potter books, and they have some serious flaws. That one thing could have possibly made up for the entire travesty of books 5 and 6 for me.
Please writers, grow a pair.
Put in those things that challenge the story and your characters. Don’t do it for shock. We get more than enough of that. Shock is not the same as substance. Take those moments that will build and develop your characters and story, no matter where they happen in your story – whether it’s on page 1 of book 1, or at the very end of your multi-volume epic. Especially at the end. The end is what lingers with us. True the beginning of a book is what’s going to draw the reader in, but the end is what is going to resonate with the reader long after we put that book away. It’s the difference between The Dark Tower and Under the Dome, both by Stephen King. The Dark Tower had an epic ending (Three actually, but you’ll need to read the whole thing to get that) well worth the journey of seven books. Under the Dome was great for the first 3/4 of the book, and then went off into crazy land, then ending hollow and lame and completely WTF out of left field.
Please, have the courage to look at your story, and if something’s not working, take it out. If something would be awesome, put it in. For your readers’ sake, please God, put it in.