Tuesday, May 5, 2009

As a Reader...

I have a confession to make. I’ve pretty much done this all my reading life and I can’t seem to stop myself. It’s rather embarrassing really.

I read the ending of a book first. There I said it. If the ending isn’t happy I have trouble convincing myself to read the book. Likely it is the romantic in me who insists there has to be some sort of happy resolution before I will invest my time in it. After all I do write romance so really it isn’t surprising.

Obviously this doesn’t apply to a non-fiction book, but every other type of book I have read I read the ending first. Even horror books, while obviously don't always end happily, it still has to have an ending I am comfortable with before I will read the book.

I’m enjoying a series, for instance, about two gay detectives written by Victor J. Banis. Best described as the “Deadly” series. I read the first two (and yes I read the endings first) so when the third came out yesterday, Deadly Dreams, you bet the first thing I did was buy it for my Kindle. And yes, I read the end first. Now I can read the whole book with a clear conscience.

I can’t be alone in my reading the ending of books first. Please tell me I’m not just a little off my rocker about this.


  1. I'm not a right-out-of-the-bag back end reader, but I do understand the appeal. I only do that if the story isn't off to a great start and I want to know if it will finish strong so I know it's worth my time. Hmmm, or if I really fall in love with a character and he/her fate seems dicey. Or if I accidently hit "end" instead of "page down", lol. :) Appreciate the confession!! So here's a follow up question, do you know the ending of your stories before you sit down and write them, or do they unfold as you go??

  2. I’m actually going to give one of those vague annoying “it depends” answers, lol. For example my current wip which is almost done, Beyond the Norm, I did plan out how I wanted it to end. Not on paper or in a file or anything, I hardly ever do that (Ava March plans her stories meticulously), but in my head I knew or know how I wanted Beyond the Norm to end. Now, with the next story after this one, Ticket to Ride, I have no clue how ANY of the story will go. It’s part of a theme of song titles for Amber Quill and I like the song so I chose it, but really I have no idea what will happen or even who my main character will end up with. Each book is different for me, some planned, some not. For example I didn’t know when I started Perfect Man that Craig would be suicidal, he took me there. As I said, Ava plans her stories out in a file and notes and won’t even start the story until she knows exactly what will happen. I just can’t write like that.

    How about you, Stacey?

  3. I seem to have a beginning to end style of writing. It can be a lot of fun, because the story literally hits me as I type. Each scene just leads into the next, and can go off in directions that I never planned. I start with a couple protags and a story idea, but the scenes, backstories, and even the ending just come to me as I go. Sometimes I find my secondary characters take on a life of their own. The rewrite that I'm working on started off as a stand-alone story, but two of the secondary characters really asserted themselves. I had to wrestle them back into place with the promise of their own story in the future. :) I have the sense that I'll write related stories or series. I love finding out what comes after the story ends.

    Thanks for the answer, it wasn't annoying at all! Enlightening! And Ava, I admire your method, but I have tried to write a planned-out story, and it bogged down on me, and then spun off merrily in a random direction.

  4. Stacey - you hint on why I plan everything out. I'm afraid a book will spin off into some other direction if I don't plan it. Plus, since I have a limited time to write each day, I try to minimize rewrites/revisions. For me, the fun is in mulling over a new book concept, letting it flow through my head. And once it's all there, then I outline, tweak, mull some more, tweak the outline, then write. I've also now sell most of my books on blurb/short synopsis alone, so before I propose something, I want to make sure I have enough plot or a short enough plot (in the case of a novella), before I send an idea to an editor. I don't have Shawn's confidence that it will come together as I write. What if I write myself into a corner? She's also written a lot more books than me, so she has more experience.

    As for peeking at the last chapter of a book - yep, I do that. A lot. :)

  5. Shawn, I just discovered your blog when I looked for you after reading a few of your stories. No, you're not alone. I don't usually read the end first, but if while reading I start to worry about a character and want to make sure I like how he ends up, I will check out the ending first. If it turns out it is not good, I'll continue reading but will be prepared (and unhappy).

  6. Thanks, Rikki, glad you liked the books you read enough to search for me.

    I've tried to break myself of the habit of reading the ending first and sometimes I am even semi-successful, but with the Deadly series I read by Victor J. Banis I had heard the latest one might make me cry and since I had already invested myself with the characters in the first two books I was quite concerned, :-)

    I really have to force myself NOT to read the ending of books first though. It's quite terrible of me, lol.

  7. We have read the ending sometimes first too. Not all the time. It depends on the author, or if we have read a review and they stated it ended well or not. There is nothing wrong with making sure you want to invest your time in a book that ends well. I hate ending a book on an unhappy note.
    Kieran Kelly wrote a book that had the hero die at the end. We both had a WTF moment. I still hate that book, it was horrible.
    If we had known that to begin with, we wouldn't have read it to begin with.
    So, I say YOU GO GIRL! Read what you want to read, and how you want to read it!

  8. The hero died? Yeah, I would not have liked that. I read a book back in the 70s as a child (yes I am that old) where the hero was hanged for a murder he did not commit. I am STILL haunted by that book. Terrible.