My daughter Ariel has a problem. She doesn’t think it’s a problem. I do. Now it’s not your typical problem, but it’s the kind of problem that drives a writer like me absolutely batty. She reads the end of books before the beginning. This is utter sacrilege.
She’ll come home with a stack of books from the library. Then she’ll be lying on the couch, reading the first chapter or two and then she reads the last couple of chapters. Imagine me, pulling out my hair. “Ariel, why do you do that?”
Ariel: I have to see if the book’s worth reading.
Ariel: I want to know if the main character’s going to end up with the guy. Because if she’s not, then I’m not wasting my time with this novel.
Me (I’m beginning to twitch): I understand feeling ripped by the occasional novel, but the author spend months, probably years crafting that book and to skip all the tension building to get to the climax...you’re ruining the author’s work.
Ar (eyebrows raised): I’ll read it if it’s good. Besides I hate it when some author pulls a deus ex machina. (Deus ex machina is Latin meaning “god from a machine.” It’s when a writer throws on an ending to tie up the story that the rest of the novel doesn’t justify.)
Me: I totally understand. But that’s the risk you take when begin a novel. You have to give the author a certain amount of trust.
Ar: I’ve gotten burned too many times.
Now the fact that Ariel reads the ending of books is a bad situation. But there is a worse one—one that has played out many times in our house. Imagine Ariel is sitting at my computer with a document open. I lean over to see what she’s doing.
Me: Oh, you’re reading my novel.
Ar: Uh, huh.
Me (looking closer): You’re on chapter twenty-nine.
Me (turning purple): You’re reading the end of my novel before...(I sputter here unable to find the necessary words)...you’ve read the whole thing.
Me: I hate, hate, hate that.
Ar (giving me her dimply smile and twinkly eyes): You should password protect your documents.
Me: Like that’ll work. (When Ar was little, I used to password protect my computer as a game for her to try and crack. It’s never taken her more than a day to hack my system.) I know I could come up with an unbreakable code, but then I’d forget it. Maybe I need to put down the “parental foot,” but it’s become sort of a game between the two of us. And I love games.