John Green completed his fourth (FOURTH) Reddit AMA session on Thursday (August 13), and, as usual, he was all-in for the discussion and shared a ton of keenly fascinating little deets about "Paper Towns," "Looking For Alaska," and even a little hint at what might be coming down next (!!!!).
Here's what we learned.
Originally, "Looking For Alaska" had a verrrrry different title.
"I called Looking for Alaska 'Pinaple,' for a long time, which stood for 'Proving I'm Not A Pontificating Literary Esthete,'" Green explained. "Like, the file on my computer of the final draft is still pinaple83.doc (because it was the 83rd version)."
So, why did it change? Per Green, "'Pinaple' just isn't a very good title for a novel. Whereas 'Looking for Alaska' is a GREAT title, because everyone thinks your boarding school novel is a wilderness adventure story." TBH, he's totally right about that.
Oh, and here's what he has to say to people who thought the "Paper Towns" movie ending was underwhelming.Fox 2000
"Well, it was supposed to be underwhelming," he explained. "I mean, the whole idea of the story is that Quentin thinks of himself as the hero in some manic pixie dream girl fantasy: He must track down the girl, despite long odds, and then go on this Hero's Journey to Save Her, and then once he has done that he will Win The Girl and Live Happily Ever After." Riiiight.
"Except the whole construction of that narrative is based on young men romanticizing and idealizing the girls they like, and thinking of them as objects to be won after overcoming a series of obstacles. In fact, girls are not objects to be won or conquered or whatever; they are people, in precisely the same complex and multitudinous way Quentin himself is a person."
In fact, in his original draft for the adaptation would've been pretty much unrecognizable.Fox 2000
The shooting script was co-written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, but once upon a time, Green tried his hand at adapting the story himself, and it went womp womp womp into File 13 with the quickness.
"Well, that whole screenplay was terrible," the best-selling author recounted. "In the script that I wrote, the idea was that Q realized that he'd been projected onto Margo and making her into something more than a person, so that remained. But then for some reason he was like, 'Oh, but I know Lacey as a real person,' and then they made out and rode off into the sunset so it could be a properly Hollywood ending."
Also, 'Harry Potter' fans had a big hand in making him feel like he'd truly made it.Warner Bros.
One of the questions JG was faced with was the exact moment he started to feel like he'd "made it" in the world. And, John Green being John Green, he not only remembered it, but he could recall the exact date. Thanks, Potterphiles!
"The moment I felt like we'd made it was August 1st, 2007. Hank and I had been making videos for 8 months, and we had around 200 YouTube subscribers," he remembered. "Hank recorded a song about the last Harry Potter book called 'Accio Deathly Hallows,' which got featured on YouTube, and suddenly there was this influx of new nerdfighters. Best of all, many of them came from the 'Harry Potter' fan community, and they helped push nerdfighteria toward philanthropy and activism and in general toward awesomeness."
FWIW, he's also got some strong opinions on which of his remaining un-adapted books -- "Will Grayson, Will Grayson" and "An Abundance of Katherines" -- should be made into a movie.
"I think 'WGWG' would be the more important and interesting movie," said Green. "I am quite fond of 'Katherines,' but it is for good reasons my least popular book."
The reason "Katherines" isn't as filmable-slash-well-liked as "WGWG" to Green is, "it's a comic novel featuring a LOT of math with a not-terribly-likable protagonist, so it's very different from my other books. It's also sort of fantastical--all my books are, I guess, but it's the closest to like explicit magical realism. It's just a weird little book. I still like it, and it has really hardcore fans, but I get why people find it weird or off-putting."
He doesn't know what he'll write about next, but does know a few subjects he won't be touching on next time.
John Green also said that he feels like a "fraud all the time," that he's "literally the worst writer on Earth" and that he still doesn't feel like he knows how to write a novel -- which ... PSSSSHA John! Way to be humble and all, but SRSLY what's next?
He got to that too. While he doesn't exactly know what his fingers-o-magic'll be tapping out next, he does know that a few subjects are officially off the table as of right now.
"I like writing about smart teenagers and don't really feel an urge to write about other types of people," he said. Translation: He's YA to stay, okay? Okay.
"[W]riting about issues around how young men romanticize and misimagine young women in destructive ways, I feel like I've said about that all that I can," he added. "And if you mean will I write about child prodigies again, probably not. And I am also probably done writing about grief, at least for a while."