Alternate Endings for Hemingway’s “Farewell to Arms”

As an author, sometimes you have one ending in mind for your book but as you write your characters start heading in a different direction. And sometimes a number of options present themselves and it’s hard to tell which way to take the story.

I’ve always enjoyed the DVDs that offer alternate endings for movies — seeing what could have been and whether they made the right decision to go with the ending they did.

Now, you can do the same with Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. A new edition of the novel is being published that includes more than 40 alternate endings that Hemingway considered for the novel. According to the New York Times:

For close readers of Hemingway the endings are a fascinating glimpse into how the novel could have concluded on a different note, sometimes more blunt and sometimes more optimistic.

Although alternate endings/deleted scenes have become common for movies and TV shows, it’s harder to come across books that include that same process. And now that you can just hit ‘delete’ it’s not going to be any easier:

And since modern authors tend to produce their work on computers, the new edition also serves as an artifact of a bygone craft, with handwritten notes and long passages crossed out, giving readers a sense of an author’s process.

I really enjoy Stephen King’sOn Writing; in it, he includes an early draft of a passage from one of his books and the editing notes for it. I think it’s inspiring for younger/less experienced writers (like myself) to see that even the greats don’t always get the exact wording they want the first time through.

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