Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Writer and the Story

It's always crazy when you meet an author you have absolutely loved, and you find that their personality is so different from their writing.  I think, because it is inevitable that large bits of us wind up in our writing, we expect, see or think it's similar for others.

And it is, I think.  But readers are wired to spot the familiar, relate-able things in the books they read.  That doesn't mean that they have the same attitudes towards these things, or that they share their perspective with the writer.  Often, this isn't the case.

So we end up thinking one thing, and often learning that the writer's perspective of the story is completely different.

This isn't a bad a thing, but I think it's important to keep in mind while writing.  That is, a book should have room for interpretation in a way that permits the various perspectives of a reader to inform the plot.  This isn't an attempt to advocate vague writing, but to allow the interpretation of a character's tone to be on the reader.

In my opinion, this is why "he said," "she said" is still the best taglines after dialog. If the words the character is using are "right" the different readers might read in different motive and intent, but as long as  the selection of them lead the reader in the right direction about the relationship between the characters having the doesn't hurt your story for your readers (or critiquers) to not see the interactions precisely the same as  you.

This is a more recent "realization" of mine.  I used to want to court specific ideas of my characters, world, plot.  I have such defined ideas of all these things!  If people saw them differently, then I assumed that I had not done  a good enough job relating my ideas.

But no two people have the same life experiences, and while we might come from backgrounds that instill particular values, and cultural perspectives, our engagement with each other is often hindered by radically different interpretations of events, words, and ideas.  If that is part of our daily human interaction, it makes sense for us to expect the same with writing and reading.

Viewing things this way, it becomes less about courting a very specific attitude toward characters and plot as it becomes about a sort of family of reactions.  The writer courts a general attitude, and allows for room of related responses, leading the reader toward the end that the writer anticipates, but not perhaps in the method the writer intended.

I think we should do our utmost to convey specific ideas regarding characters, setting, etc, but allow for readers' varied response.  If you try to sell a very specific idea of these things, it is easy to spend years pursuing an impossible perfection.

Perfection is an idea that I am abandoning and these are my thoughts on that process, questioning the attitudes that, I think, have been holding me  back and keeping me revising and rewriting for far too long...

What realizations, rationals, or understandings have you come to to help you be pleased with a completed draft?  


Post a Comment