By: K.M. Weiland
When I was a young reader, I had a horrendously bad habit.
Whenever I started a new book, I would systematically read the front cover, the back cover, the front matter, the back matter–and then the final line of the book. I know, I know. Anathema.
I clearly remember the day I swore to never do this again. I was around fourteen years old, curled up on the window seat in my parents’ room, avoiding company so I could start the third and final book in Timothy Zahn’s original Star Wars trilogy. I did my usual routine, then flipped to the back and read the final line.
Immediately, I wanted to bang the book against my head. Why had I justdone that? My silly momentary impatience had just ruined the whole book for me. I knew the ending. What was the point of reading the book now?
Except, of course, I did read it. And what’s more, I enjoyed it. Even though I had ruined the ending, I hadn’t ruined the book. How come?
Don’t Discount the Power of the Re-Readability Factor
Writers accept that what’s gonna happen next? is the most important question in fiction. Implicit in that question is the suggestion that writers need to prevent readers from guessing the story’s ending.
But that simply isn’t true.
Consider three very different story experiences that all defy the necessity of an unexpected ending.
1. Revisiting Favorite Stories
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