Friday, January 17, 2014

Troll Authors: They're Not So New

A few months ago, I created a twitter account for the sole purpose of following my favorite authors. I have a few actors and cool websites mixed in, but mostly it's writers. It amazes me how many people send out angry tweets to their favorite authors and call them trolls. Okay, couch critics, I know you have Opinions on how your favorite series should end. But your opinions are nothing sacred. And the author probably knows what they're doing. They have an agenda in life beyond making yours miserable. Believe it or not they probably put lots of thought into what you write.
Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women
Little Women is the tale of four sisters-Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy-and their neighbor Laurie. Laurie likes Jo. She doesn't know it, but everyone else does. Her sisters. Her parents. The readers. Everyone. Since Laurie is such a nice guy, Jo tries to pair him up with Meg. But Meg marries a not-Laurie instead and the book comes to an end.
Wait, what? We get to see Meg's wedding but not Jo's? This was before tumblr. So Louisa's fans wrote her letters demanding a sequel. Because they loved the characters? Yeah. And they wanted to know what happens next? Uh huh. But mostly they wanted to see Jo marry Laurie.
Like many classic female writers, Louisa May Alcott had Opinions. One of those Opinions was that a woman needn't get married to live a decent life. So she wrote a volume II. Jo moves to New York to become an independent woman and pursue a writing career. And there she meets a not-Laurie. He's also a nice guy, but he has several flaws, one of them being he's not Laurie.
A thousand fans cry out in terror.
When Jo gets home, Laurie finally proposes-only for her to turn him down. And say romance would ruin their friendship. And then try to pair him up with Beth.
Beth dies. Louisa's fans buy guns. Laurie debates between killing himself and going to Europe, decides on that second one, and runs into Amy while he's there. Let's see. Meg's married, Beth's dead, Jo's off doing independent writerly things, who's left?
Laurie figures it out. He and Amy get hitched.
And Jo? Call her Mrs. not-Laurie
Yes, we've got our trollish authors nowadays. But Louisa May Alcott's been trolling since 1869. Give your favorite authors 150 years and you won't be so upset anymore. She went down in history as the most desperate attempt to avoid her fans' favorite ship. I've never met anyone who wanted Jo to end up with not-Laurie in the end. I don't know anybody who read the book and thought, "Amy and Laurie would make a good couple."
But you know what? I'm okay with it. Because there's more to the book than romance. And that means I don't have to disown the entire story because it didn't end the way I wanted. Yes, I'm upset Beth died. Yes, I wanted Jo and Laurie together. But the book still has a good ending.
I think it's ridiculously picky-not to mention rude-of people to call out authors for not doing things their way.  If you want a book where your favorite characters get married, the ones you hate die, and nothing bad happens to anyone you like, then you can go write your own. Do you really think anyone's going to change their story because a random Internet critic has a better idea? If you're passionate enough to send angry tweets you're passionate enough to fall in love with a story.
And when you fall in love there are two options-say yes or go off in search of something else to make you happy. It worked for Jo. It will work for you.

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