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Archive for November 17th, 2006

Blood Boiling

Some of you will know to what I am referring by this post.  The short version is that I read something a few minutes ago that made my blood pressure skyrocket, and I feel as though a rant is in order.

It is the job of the writer to put forth, clearly and cohesively, some sort of statement.  It may be what one had for lunch, a conversation between two characters, or recounting an event in one’s life.  The person who determines how well that idea has been conveyed is the reader.  If the writer finds that a number of people are responding to something in the written piece that the writer did not intend, it is the writer’s job to further clarify, either in a later draft or in some sort of postscript.  To put it another way, it is not the reader’s job to try and figure out where the primrose path has let them out when the end of the piece is reached.  This is a difficulty of writing, but also the part which separates folks who can concoct a proper sentence from storytellers.

To put it rather bluntly, any writer who, after receiving comment on their writing, proceeds to berate the reader for not getting what the story was about is either an arty asshole or not ready to put his writing to an audience.  The audience should not have to decipher what the fuck you’re trying to say.  The writer should just say it.

One of the most valuable pieces of writing advice I’ve gotten is that the writer must always remember is that it is foolish to assume that the reader will ever be as knowledgeable about the character as the person who created it.  This goes double for the personal narrative writer.  A writer who assumes that the audience inherently knows his background, circumstances or personality without having it explained is a writer who will continue to be misunderstood.

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