As I mentioned in the past couple of posts, due to delays and the desire to re-brand/re-cover the Sword of Dragons novels, I’m planning on releasing what would essentially be a 2nd edition of the first two books in the series.
While talking about this plan with some friends, one of them made a suggestion that I could add in new parts, new sections, new characters to tie in later novels, etc.
I DO intend to do a complete read-through for proofreading and to ensure sentence structure flows (and to make sure there are no glaring errors I missed during all of the other edits.) However, I hadn’t originally planned to make any story changes. And I still don’t. But the suggestion made me start looking at other stories that have done so…
The Hobbit – Gollum Was Not Nasty
What if I told you that in the original version of The Hobbit novel, when Bilbo and Gollum had their little game, Bilbo won and Gollum willingly gave over the ring? Not only that, but they parted on relatively friendly terms.
It sounds ridiculous, given what we know about that magical ring and Gollum. But it’s true! Back when Tolkein first released the novel, that’s how the scene played out. However, when Tolkein was encouraged to write a sequel and he started developing Lord of the Rings, he changed the nature of the ring, and by extension, changed how it affected Gollum.
So prior to the release of Lord of the Rings, Tolkein reworked parts of The Hobbit to be in line with Lord of the Rings, and his publisher released it as a 2nd edition.
Honestly I have no idea how well this ‘revised’ version of the story was received by hardcore fans, and I’m very curious. And I can only imagine how valuable the 1st edition of The Hobbit is now. Anyone who has a copy of it today is beyond lucky!
But did people react to that change back then the way so many have reacted to a particularly popular Sci-Fi today?…
Star Wars Special Editions and Prequels
If you talked to someone who saw the original Star Wars trilogy before 1997, there is a good chance that something would become very evident: they hate the Special Editions, and they hate the prequels. This is not universal, because I for on enjoy the Special Editions (except for one addition in the Blu-ray release of Return of the Jedi…), and I enjoy Episode’s 1 and 3 (but 2 is by far the worst Star Wars ever made…)
A quick search on the internet, and you’ll find that not only do thousands of people despise these, but those who once looked to George Lucas as a great creator now look to him as a reviled destroyer of their beloved Sci-Fi.
Why? Because of everything he changed in the Special Editions, and because of how much of the prequels went against what they knew to be the established back story. There are other reasons, of course, but I’ve noticed that this is the prevailing feeling. So much so that many people, if you ask them what they think about the prequels, will say, “What prequels? There are only 3 Star Wars movies.”
The most vehement response, oddly enough, was to one simple scene in Episode 4…when Han faces the bounty hunter Greedo. In the original version of the movie, Han blasted Greedo without Greedo ever seeing it coming. But wanting to appeal more to children and not to ‘sully’ Han, Lucas changed it, with a bit of ‘movie magic,’ so that Greedo shot first, and Han fired back only to defend himself (rather than cold-blooded murder.)
A great movement began, and bumper stickers started showing up, “Han Shot First.” To which Lucas replied, “Greedo Shot First.”
Should Stories Be Changed?
All of this brings up the question: can and should an author change their story in a 2nd edition if they have ideas to do so? To clean up scenes or change the history of a character?
This is a question I seriously have to ask myself when I begin to go through the Sword of Dragons books to revise them. Should I only clean up typoes and sentence structure, or should I actually add/change things to flow better with future stories? Should characters from The Orc War Campaigns make brief cameos? Would those who read the original versions of my novels hate and revile me for doing so?
What do you all think, dear readers? Is it a sin to change a story after it’s been released to the public? Today, almost everyone accepts the 2nd edition of The Hobbit as canon, I’ve never heard anyone complain about the changes Tolkein made to it. But is that because it was published in the 1930’s, so few who read that original edition are still around to complain about the difference? If so, will that eventually happen with Star Wars? In 50 years, will the Special Editions and Prequels be accepted as canon and no one will complain except a few old-timers who ‘remembered how it was’?
Thanks for reading! And if you’re at Anomaly Con this weekend, look for us! :D