Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Dear Author: It is not your job to tell me what your story is about

I'm currently following the blog of a writer whose debut novel is coming out this month. Lately, she has been posting a series of blog posts about what her novel "is" -- posts that talk about the world, the characters, etc.

The main thing that bothers me about this is that I feel like the author is trying to tell me what her book is about--how I'm supposed to interpret the characters and their journeys, etc. And while I'm sure the author put a lot of time into crafting her novel so that it reflects these interpretations, it isn't her job to interpret the story for me--it's my job, as a reader.

Believe me, I love learning about how authors interpret their own books--why they included certain elements or what those elements mean. But this is something I want to learn after I've already read the book and interpreted it for myself. It's the same reason I don't like to read reviews of books that are on my To Read list--I don't want those reviews skewing my own opinions. However, after I have read the book myself, I seek out those reviews so I can compare them to my own.

Same goes for what writers say about their own books. After I've read a novel, I might scour an author's blog or interviews to see what he/she had to say about it. Sometimes I'll go "Yeah, I had that same impression" or "Wow, I didn't notice that. I just gained a whole new appreciation for your book." There are even times where I'll disagree with the writer. One author recently commented that she was happy with a casting choice because that actress could bring the necessary "complexity and depth" to the character. My response "That's funny. I didn't realize that character had any complexity or depth."

If you're doing your job as a writer, you shouldn't need to tell me about the importance of family or the hero's journey in your novel--I should be able to figure that out for myself. Please don't insult my intelligence or my ability (and right) to draw my own opinions and conclusions about your book.

Anyway, I'm still really excited to read this book, and for that reason, I'm going to stop reading the "[name of novel] is" posts on this author's blog--at least until I've had the opportunity to judge for myself.

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