Guest Blog – from Elle Lothlorien – Bestselling Author
When Authors “Get It Wrong”: How Reader Feedback Led To an Alternate Ending Version of my novel SLEEPING BEAUTY
Obviously, it’s very difficult to discuss changing the ending of a novel without actually disclosing what the ending is. If you hate spoilers, please stop reading now!
Have you ever really liked a novel, but been really, really unhappy with the ending? Before the internet came along, if you didn’t like a book’s outcome, it was basically a situation of “here’s the world’s tiniest violin playing the world’s saddest song.” The mere idea of changing a novel after publication was as unlikely as suggesting that someone fix that irritating smirk on The Mona Lisa.
These days, fans are “talking back,” whether through fan fiction (à la 50 Shades of Grey), or by simply interacting with authors on a more personal and immediate level on sites like Facebook and GoodReads. When I published my second rom-com Sleeping Beauty in September of 2011, I noticed right away that fans were talking back on the review pages—a lot.
Sleeping Beauty is “Memonto” meets “While You Were Sleeping.” It’s about a woman (Claire Beau) who has a sleep disorder called Klein-Levin Syndrome (aka “Sleeping Beauty Syndrome”). She “awakens” after seven weeks to find that she’s supposedly in the middle of a whirlwind love affair with a man she despises (Brendan Charmant), over the strenuous objections of her best friend (Davin Wibbens).
Although the novel has received mostly 4 and 5-star reviews on Amazon, fans seem to fall pretty solidly into “Team Brendan” and “Team Davin” camps. A typical “Team Davin” review on Amazon reads like this:
Did not like characters.
Okay, my title of this review is a little bit of a lie. I LOVED Davin. I had to force myself to finish it. And even then I only did because I was hoping she would end up with Davin.
And here is a typical “Team Brendan” review”
More depth than I expected
I was touched at how much Brendan obviously loved Claire: he was willing to start over again, at Square One, because the relationship they’d already developed was worth it.
And someone who decided not to take sides:
A Pleasant Surprise!
Brendan, West, and Davin provide interesting situations throughout the story. I laughed, cried, and debated outcomes with myself as I was reading.
In April 2012, I listened to my readers and published a standalone, “alternate ending” version of Sleeping Beauty called Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up, in which Claire ends up with “the other guy” (i.e. Davin Wibbens). However, Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up isn’t simply a different outcome tacked on to the ending of the novel. In Chapter 11 of Sleeping Beauty, the main character, Claire Beau, trips on a cable on a movie set. In Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up, she does not trip on the cable. Based on this one moment in time, events naturally cascade to a different conclusion. Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up contains about 50 pages of new material, and is approximately 10 pages longer than the original.
And here’s the thing: Those fans who were unhappy with the original ending? They were right! Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up is the book I should have written the first time around, the one I would have written if I’d had more courage and trusted my characters to do the right thing.
Which one should you read? Well, if you like your rom-coms in the form of a tall, sexy, silent-doctor type, then Sleeping Beauty is for you. If blonde, tanned, hot surfers who curse a blue streak are more your style, then I’d recommend Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up. The best part? You can read both (and about 25-30% of readers do).
Put away your tiny violins, kids, because now you can have it both ways!
***Both Sleeping Beauty and Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up are available for the Kindle on Amazon, and will be available on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and the i-Store beginning the week of September 10th. You can read more about Elle’s other novels by going to www.ellelothlorien.com. Happy reading!***