Fantasy Faction

Fantasy Faction Writers => Writers' Corner => Topic started by: shadowkat678 on April 21, 2016, 09:33:50 PM

Title: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: shadowkat678 on April 21, 2016, 09:33:50 PM
In class today we started watching J. K. Rowling - A Year In The Life, and it got me thinking about something. I'll link to it. I tried using the YouTube option, but that doesn't seem to be working.

https://youtu.be/p6-6zaa4NI4 (https://youtu.be/p6-6zaa4NI4)

Anyway, watching it I started to realize just how much of herself she put into the Harry Potter series. Then, I wondered if that had anything to do with the impact it's had on me and so many other fans of her books.

From the start she knew exactly what she wanted to say, exactly how she wanted it to end, and exactly the message she would be sending to her readers. What she wrote came from her heart and beliefs. It's a story that brought together millions of people around the world. I've heard stories about people whose lives took a entirely different direction after reading this series. I don't think that could have been done if she hadn't put so much of herself into the world and characters she created. The Dementors, for example, came from her experiences with depression. The problems she had with her father influenced the many figures Harry found. Sirius, Dumbledore, Hagrid, and Mr. Weasley. Her mother's death had a profound impact as well.

She used her own convictions and beliefs of what was right and true. I can see it, and I believe that's what really makes it come alive. It comes from something deeper than a simple desire to write about a magic school and evil Dark Lord.

I've noticed it in some other series as well. Red Rising for example, which is my most recent book obsession. Then I thought about books I don't like, and started thinking about what it is that pushes me away. The lack of true feeling and depth. Artificialness. The situations feel shallow, the emotions week and unmoving. I can tell when a writer doesn't feel for what they're making, when they've distanced themselves and don't feel passion for what the story they've sat down to write.

That, or they focus too much on themselves. I've seen a lot of books that feel like wish fulfilment. I have no problem basing a character off of yourself. They're easier to understand. However, when it's a matter of crafting a story with no purpose other than to fulfill a childhood fantasy, I as a reader often find myself shut out in a way. It's not here for me. I'm not really sure how to describe it. It's hard to put into words.

Often I feel cheated if I can't find any meaning, nothing that touches me as a person, nothing to see myself in, and nothing that conveyed a tale worth remembering. Hunger Games and Divergent, for all their faults, kept me reading because I was made to think about things. I later found out that those authors also used their books to explore their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. None of these I've mentioned win a medal  for their prose, but I'd say there's a reason they saw the success they did. I use books to explore myself and reality in ways I can't do any other way. Books raise questions about myself and what I'm told, and often the books that do that are by writers who do the same thing themselves. That put meaning and heart into their words.

This was probably very messy, and I apologize for it. I'm not sure if I made any sense, but I'm wondering if anyone else feels this way. What do you think makes stories connect and come alive with you? How much does the author and their thoughts have to do with it? Can you tell when there's a disconnect?
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Peat on April 22, 2016, 01:14:38 AM
Yes and no.

On the one hand, I like stories where the author has something to say.

On the other, I don't like being preached at.

And that leaves a very narrow space between the two where I'm going "Ah hell yeah". Tightrope narrow. I suppose the space gets wider when I agree with the message, but even so. I think the key is "Does the message only sink in once I'm already hooked by the story?" If the answer is yes, then things are good. If the answer is no, I'm being preached at.

I think with most authors, knowing their history will make their books a little more interesting. There's a hint of the autobiographical about most authors. And yes, I like it too. A few more examples:

Tolkien's Catholicism, experiences of World War One and dislike of industralisation really mark Lord of the Rings.

David Gemmell's books are very marked by his childhood experiences of being shy in a rough area and having an old school step-father who made him stand up for himself.

The Wheel of Time is influenced by Robert Jordan's deployment to Vietnam iirc (and the Two Rivers by his own home).

And Terry Pratchett's anger at the world seeps through Discworld like the smell of Nobby Nobbs getting slowly closer.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: ultamentkiller on April 22, 2016, 02:04:44 AM
Definitely!
I think I rave so much about the  light Bringer Saga by Brent Weeks because of how much the questions raised are things I have to face in my own life. Also, I'm very familiar  with his background, and I think his perspective on life matches up closely with mine. In Light Bringer, I get questions about faith, questions about the government, questions about each side of a war, a strenuous family relationship... And then there's Kip. I can't explain my connection to him entirely, but I see myself there. I'm not fat, I don't like to consider myself bumbling and slow at times, but then again... He just makes so much sense to me. His questions about life, his worry of failure, his struggle to fit in where he feels like an outsider... Those who have read the series may understand what I'm trying to say more than the words I'm using. I'm one of the youngest here on the form. When I read the first two books of Light Bringer, I was Kip's age. And when the third book came out, I had aged with Kip. And it's probably about to happen close to that way again.

I'm not even sure where I was going now, but yes. The books I love most seem to question things about my own life. And of course, the plot twists are awesome.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Nora on April 22, 2016, 02:05:47 AM
I'm different in that respect, I don't like knowing about my writers, I don't really care about what they felt writing their books... At least I don't like knowing about that until after I'm done reading all their interesting work, otherwise it distracts me in my reading or make me spot meanings I might be spoon fed, and I strongly dislike that.

I like a book that has deep values you have to figure out yourself. Stuff that is wrong, or very good, but don't have to be spelled out to you.

For example, in the book I just finished, City of Stairs, there are strong parts of the story focusing on the shaming of homosexuality, and it was well done, until a character voiced everything very clearly. I'm sure it doesn't bother many, but to me it doesn't carry as much weight as a more discreet way of dealing with it. Because it was a point that was obviously being made over the course of the book, having someone spell it out felt like spoon feeding me the theme.
Another book that is the perfect example of giving you stuff to think about is the most terrifyingly organic way was The Collector, which is the most psychologically terrifying book I've read in my 26 years, while featuring very few acts of violence.
You get into one character's head by first pov and the other through her journal, and it's all deeply twisted and disturbing. There are very heavy themes under it all, on deep as subjects, like the meaning of life, of regret, the responsibility of society in the making of criminals, the rejection of those who are different...
But none of it is ever spelled out. It's the typical book you'd have to study at school with a teacher pointing meaning out for you to understand.

That ending though... I could not pick up another book for days after that, because The Collector was reverberating in my head and draining the colours out of life.  :o

Quote
She used her own convictions and beliefs of what was right and true. I can see it, and I believe that's what really makes it come alive. It comes from something deeper than a simple desire to write about a magic school and evil Dark Lord.

I always assume that it's the case for every writer, unless I identify what I'm reading as an easy buck or "train station book" as we call it in french.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: CryptofCthulhu on April 22, 2016, 04:29:58 PM
I never had an interest in Harry Potter, and the more I read what JK Rowling tweets, or says in interviews, the less interested I am.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Lu Kudzoza on April 22, 2016, 06:35:25 PM
Quote
On the one hand, I like stories where the author has something to say.

On the other, I don't like being preached at.

Agree. I don't mind a message (and love philosophy) if it directly relates to the plot. But, I don't want the author telling me how I should think. Instead, write the conflict and let me decide who's right or wrong. Give me enough room in the story to think about various ideas and how they apply to the world today (or the past/future). If an author simply preaches a message or has a character that is preaching I'll most likely put the book down.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: shadowkat678 on April 22, 2016, 10:28:10 PM
I'm different in that respect, I don't like knowing about my writers, I don't really care about what they felt writing their books... At least I don't like knowing about that until after I'm done reading all their interesting work, otherwise it distracts me in my reading or make me spot meanings I might be spoon fed, and I strongly dislike that.

I like a book that has deep values you have to figure out yourself. Stuff that is wrong, or very good, but don't have to be spelled out to you.

For example, in the book I just finished, City of Stairs, there are strong parts of the story focusing on the shaming of homosexuality, and it was well done, until a character voiced everything very clearly. I'm sure it doesn't bother many, but to me it doesn't carry as much weight as a more discreet way of dealing with it. Because it was a point that was obviously being made over the course of the book, having someone spell it out felt like spoon feeding me the theme.
Another book that is the perfect example of giving you stuff to think about is the most terrifyingly organic way was The Collector, which is the most psychologically terrifying book I've read in my 26 years, while featuring very few acts of violence.
You get into one character's head by first pov and the other through her journal, and it's all deeply twisted and disturbing. There are very heavy themes under it all, on deep as subjects, like the meaning of life, of regret, the responsibility of society in the making of criminals, the rejection of those who are different...
But none of it is ever spelled out. It's the typical book you'd have to study at school with a teacher pointing meaning out for you to understand.

That ending though... I could not pick up another book for days after that, because The Collector was reverberating in my head and draining the colours out of life.  :o

Quote
She used her own convictions and beliefs of what was right and true. I can see it, and I believe that's what really makes it come alive. It comes from something deeper than a simple desire to write about a magic school and evil Dark Lord.

I always assume that it's the case for every writer, unless I identify what I'm reading as an easy buck or "train station book" as we call it in french.

I believe you can see them and their passion in what they write without having it be spelled out.


Quote
On the one hand, I like stories where the author has something to say.

On the other, I don't like being preached at.

I agree with that. Like above, I believe that you don't have to preach or spell something out. It's just like how a character can be shown instead of told. The underlying clues, things you catch, and how it just feels like it's coming from something the writer knows. It's like how you can tell who has fighting experience and who doesn't by reading a scene in a book. Well, you're more likely to tell. Sex scenes, same. War vets, same. Do you get where I'm coming from there?

I never had an interest in Harry Potter, and the more I read what JK Rowling tweets, or says in interviews, the less interested I am.

I feel like I might regret this being such a fan, but may I ask why?
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: ultamentkiller on April 22, 2016, 10:30:35 PM
Quote
On the one hand, I like stories where the author has something to say.

On the other, I don't like being preached at.

Agree. I don't mind a message (and love philosophy) if it directly relates to the plot. But, I don't want the author telling me how I should think. Instead, write the conflict and let me decide who's right or wrong. Give me enough room in the story to think about various ideas and how they apply to the world today (or the past/future). If an author simply preaches a message or has a character that is preaching I'll most likely put the book down.
Fully agree with this. That's why the ending of Calamity annoyed me so much. Sanderson took that moment to preach at me. Ugh. No, the books I love just present questions, that none of the characters have a good answer too. They're all just trying to do what's right.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: cupiscent on April 23, 2016, 02:40:38 AM
+1 for disliking being preached at. One of my big issues with the Narnia books was that it felt like Sunday School all over again. (I scoffed out loud in the cinema when the stone table cracked at the end of the first movie.)

Similarly, when that John Wright chap was Puppied onto the Hugos ballot last year, I tried wading through his nominated fiction, and nearly rolled my eyes right out of my head as his characters sat around pontificating on philosophical points rather than there actually being any story.

In contrast, I'm about 75% through The Traitor Baru Cormorant, and while this is a book with many strong messages to think about, it builds the story on them and shows them through very believable characters in interesting storylines, rather than sitting there telling me about them. I'm loving it because it challenges me to think even while entertaining me.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: zmunkz on April 23, 2016, 04:06:05 AM
+1 for disliking being preached at. One of my big issues with the Narnia books was that it felt like Sunday School all over again. (I scoffed out loud in the cinema when the stone table cracked at the end of the first movie.)

I agree on that. And when I found out a little later that C.S. Lewis was a Christian apologist writer and the resurrection imagery was not merely an inspiration of his, but a cloaked pitch for Jesus, it turned me off from the books entirely.  Not that I have a problem with anyone's religion, I just don't like it being fed to me clandestinely in a fantasy book.

To the OP, no I do not think that kind of thing is necessary to create a powerful book.  It probably helps, especially for newer writers, but I think artisans of the craft can create the same depth around any imagery or conflict that suits their characters.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Nora on April 23, 2016, 08:49:37 AM
Talking about being put off by things being force fed to you... Just finished the book called The Humans, and one of the last chapters is a list of "advices" from the alien to his human "son", 5 or 6 full pages of one liners or so, listed, and written in the second person, and man I read like the first 20 then skipped the entire chapter.
"do this, don't do that, you're unique, you live in the present" blah blah blaaaah. It's a great book overall, but a lot is already told and explained, and putting the goodwill preaching in the shape of a list was not welcome.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: cupiscent on April 23, 2016, 08:52:57 AM
Talking about being put off by things being force fed to you... Just finished the book called The Humans, and one of the last chapters is a list of "advices" from the alien to his human "son", 5 or 6 full pages of one liners or so, listed, and written in the second person, and man I read like the first 20 then skipped the entire chapter.
"do this, don't do that, you're unique, you live in the present" blah blah blaaaah. It's a great book overall, but a lot is already told and explained, and putting the goodwill preaching in the shape of a list was not welcome.

But trust me on the sunscreen (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTJ7AzBIJoI)? ;)
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: CryptofCthulhu on April 23, 2016, 12:46:27 PM
I'm different in that respect, I don't like knowing about my writers, I don't really care about what they felt writing their books... At least I don't like knowing about that until after I'm done reading all their interesting work, otherwise it distracts me in my reading or make me spot meanings I might be spoon fed, and I strongly dislike that.

I like a book that has deep values you have to figure out yourself. Stuff that is wrong, or very good, but don't have to be spelled out to you.

For example, in the book I just finished, City of Stairs, there are strong parts of the story focusing on the shaming of homosexuality, and it was well done, until a character voiced everything very clearly. I'm sure it doesn't bother many, but to me it doesn't carry as much weight as a more discreet way of dealing with it. Because it was a point that was obviously being made over the course of the book, having someone spell it out felt like spoon feeding me the theme.
Another book that is the perfect example of giving you stuff to think about is the most terrifyingly organic way was The Collector, which is the most psychologically terrifying book I've read in my 26 years, while featuring very few acts of violence.
You get into one character's head by first pov and the other through her journal, and it's all deeply twisted and disturbing. There are very heavy themes under it all, on deep as subjects, like the meaning of life, of regret, the responsibility of society in the making of criminals, the rejection of those who are different...
But none of it is ever spelled out. It's the typical book you'd have to study at school with a teacher pointing meaning out for you to understand.

That ending though... I could not pick up another book for days after that, because The Collector was reverberating in my head and draining the colours out of life.  :o

Quote
She used her own convictions and beliefs of what was right and true. I can see it, and I believe that's what really makes it come alive. It comes from something deeper than a simple desire to write about a magic school and evil Dark Lord.

I always assume that it's the case for every writer, unless I identify what I'm reading as an easy buck or "train station book" as we call it in french.

I believe you can see them and their passion in what they write without having it be spelled out.


Quote
On the one hand, I like stories where the author has something to say.

On the other, I don't like being preached at.

I agree with that. Like above, I believe that you don't have to preach or spell something out. It's just like how a character can be shown instead of told. The underlying clues, things you catch, and how it just feels like it's coming from something the writer knows. It's like how you can tell who has fighting experience and who doesn't by reading a scene in a book. Well, you're more likely to tell. Sex scenes, same. War vets, same. Do you get where I'm coming from there?

I never had an interest in Harry Potter, and the more I read what JK Rowling tweets, or says in interviews, the less interested I am.

I feel like I might regret this being such a fan, but may I ask why?

She's just another celebrity that thinks the rest of the world is waiting for her to chime in on political topics, as if she has anything interesting or original to add. She also makes it pretty clear that there is some sort of underlying ideological motive to her stories. She tackles the same topics from the same, run of the mill point of view.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Nora on April 23, 2016, 01:31:34 PM
And that, is precisely why I avoid any informations on my authors. Because I'd also be put off by their work if I discovered I didn't like their personality.

This being said, @CryptofCthulhu (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=40966), what underlying motives are there, behind Harry Potter? If they aren't shoved down your eyes, I can't see the problem, in so far that most writers do have an underlying set of views that they try to convey through their work... Or else it'd all be like reading the Sun or whatnot.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Peat on April 23, 2016, 02:59:44 PM
Personally I prefer to read without knowing the author's personality, then again after knowing about it - it brings more light to the nuances. But I can see why some prefer not to and short of very serious criminality or being very vocally annoying, I don't care too much about what the author is like. That's a different matter though.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: CryptofCthulhu on April 23, 2016, 03:26:00 PM
And that, is precisely why I avoid any informations on my authors. Because I'd also be put off by their work if I discovered I didn't like their personality.

This being said, @CryptofCthulhu (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=40966), what underlying motives are there, behind Harry Potter? If they aren't shoved down your eyes, I can't see the problem, in so far that most writers do have an underlying set of views that they try to convey through their work... Or else it'd all be like reading the Sun or whatnot.

Discrimination bad, racism bad (half bloods looked down on as being inferior, etc.), class-ism bad, etc. Nothing interesting or original about any of these topics. Makes it very simple to define the good guys and bad guys in the story. I guess it's fine if you are trying to explain things to children or young teens. It's just a run of the mill viewpoint on social issues.

Then you have her, for no apparent reason, deciding she wants to let everyone know that Dumbledore is actually gay. It's not hinted at in the story, or really all that relevant to it from what I've read in articles regarding the series. Just comes across as a "oh by the way guys I'm pro LGBT, see how progressive I am?"

It's just a sloppily transparent way of associating her politics with her book, even if nobody actually cares.

I'm not arguing morality here, just that how she presents herself to the public does nothing but motivate me to avoid reading her books even more.

It's also one of the reasons I avoid books aimed at the teenage demographic. I know YA is supposed to range up to 18-19 years old, but early to middle teens seems to be more of the median age group. The author has to limit the complexity of political/religious/social issues either because it has to be in line with what the target audience can actually comprehend, or they just aren't good at presenting them with any level of complexity in the first place.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Nora on April 23, 2016, 03:58:05 PM
Well yeah, but indeed, we're talking about YA so... I read the first HP book when I was 11 yo, exactly like the main character, and had caught up with the publishing dates by book 4, and was less and less interested by the series as it drew to a close, and never saw the last three movies either.
HP, to me, is iconic in the same way of other works I read as a young teen, but they remain there, because they can't really suffer adult perusal that well.

So having moral values roughly sketched isn't something I'd put against a book that can safely given to a ten years old.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Yora on April 23, 2016, 04:17:48 PM
Personally I prefer to read without knowing the author's personality, then again after knowing about it - it brings more light to the nuances. But I can see why some prefer not to and short of very serious criminality or being very vocally annoying, I don't care too much about what the author is like. That's a different matter though.

I think the best way to promote any idea or opinion in a book is to present compelling arguments on a topic and leave it at that. If you're arguments are good, you don't need to tell readers what you think about the issue and what you want them to think.
Soapboxing either inside the story or as a commentary shouldn't be necessary and distracts more than it enlightens.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Peat on April 23, 2016, 04:20:43 PM
Personally I prefer to read without knowing the author's personality, then again after knowing about it - it brings more light to the nuances. But I can see why some prefer not to and short of very serious criminality or being very vocally annoying, I don't care too much about what the author is like. That's a different matter though.

I think the best way to promote any idea or opinion in a book is to present compelling arguments on a topic and leave it at that. If you're arguments are good, you don't need to tell readers what you think about the issue and what you want them to think.
Soapboxing either inside the story or as a commentary shouldn't be necessary and distracts more than it enlightens.

Agreed - but knowing about the author isn't always about their arguments/philosophy, sometimes it's as simple as knowing what their life experience was and seeing their writing in a new light because of it.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: ultamentkiller on April 23, 2016, 05:18:07 PM
I read Harry Potter when I was 9 or 10. I think that's one of the series that taught me not everyone is who they seem to be. By the end of the series, I went from hating one character to really respecting him. As far as the political stuff, I didn't pick up on it. The conflict made sense to me. Maybe if I read it for the first time now I would get it, or maybe even in a reread. It never seemed essential to the story. I get what's being said about the mudbloods and purebloods and all that, but it felt more like nobility verses peasants at the time. And by that, I mean the purebloods held themselves up more like nobility, and lots of them seemed to have family money. Rich VS. Poor. That's a story that continues to be good I think.

I also can't deny the effect it's had on people's lives. I think it's a bit overrated, but it's hooked people into reading books. People who were told they never could. I have a dislexic(I can't spell that) friend who never wanted to read because it was too hard. Then she picked up those books in 5th grade and bam! Also, if what I hear is true, it's kept people from committing suicide, because they've found peace in the world. It's also one of the rare series where the movie adaptations didn't screw it up terribly. So I have deep respect for her in what she accomplished.

Those are the reasons I'm going to reread them. So I can see what effect they may have had on me as a kid, and on others. It didn't feel like there was one at the time, but there's something.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: shadowkat678 on April 23, 2016, 10:32:49 PM
I read Harry Potter when I was 9 or 10. I think that's one of the series that taught me not everyone is who they seem to be. By the end of the series, I went from hating one character to really respecting him. As far as the political stuff, I didn't pick up on it. The conflict made sense to me. Maybe if I read it for the first time now I would get it, or maybe even in a reread. It never seemed essential to the story. I get what's being said about the mudbloods and purebloods and all that, but it felt more like nobility verses peasants at the time. And by that, I mean the purebloods held themselves up more like nobility, and lots of them seemed to have family money. Rich VS. Poor. That's a story that continues to be good I think.

I also can't deny the effect it's had on people's lives. I think it's a bit overrated, but it's hooked people into reading books. People who were told they never could. I have a dislexic(I can't spell that) friend who never wanted to read because it was too hard. Then she picked up those books in 5th grade and bam! Also, if what I hear is true, it's kept people from committing suicide, because they've found peace in the world. It's also one of the rare series where the movie adaptations didn't screw it up terribly. So I have deep respect for her in what she accomplished.

Those are the reasons I'm going to reread them. So I can see what effect they may have had on me as a kid, and on others. It didn't feel like there was one at the time, but there's something.

Exactly. Here's a few stories I've come across about it:

Quote
How Harry Potter Saved My Life
Dylan Carlson

“I’m sorry, all of the Goosebumps have been checked out, but we did just get this back.”

I was handed a book that was unmistakably new, but had seen heavy use in its short time at the West Kearns Elementary library. It had the look of a book in which the pages had been turned faster than any 2nd grade student could possibly read. This along with the still glossy cover of a small, scarred, dark haired boy speeding through the air on a broomstick was enough to push the R.L. Stein request out of my head. I certainly didn’t need any new horror in my life anyway.

“Make sure to check back in if you can’t finish it in time. This book is normally reserved for the older students.”

Time, however, was not an issue. I spent all of my time either sitting on the floor in front of a small television or wandering alone through my neighborhood and, all too often, beyond. These were both mediums to keep me occupied while my parents kept themselves anesthetized with whatever means they had procured (and later, cooked) that particular week. There are few greater enemies for an eight-year-old than abandon and loneliness, so I more than welcomed the company of the young bespectacled wizard.

That same day I arrived home, book in hand, to a smoky front room filled with a destitute handful of adults. I walked straight through to my room, unnoticed, a scrawny boy marching across the battlefield I’d become desensitized to. However, just like the small boy I was about to meet between the pages in my very hand, I much preferred the silence of neglect over whatever slurs their consciences could get out at the sight of an adolescent in such a tawdry environment. I began cooking Macaroni and Cheese, popped the tab of a Coke can and left my life for a couple hours.

I was whisked away from the dirt and grime of my reality, and swept into breathtaking adventures with those who quickly became my closest allies. I was no longer surrounded by chipped plates peppered with month old rancid leftovers. Instead I was able to spend entire days with Harry, Ron and Hermione in the cushy chairs of the Gryffindor common room. Or even out at the Quidditch pitch filled with the adrenaline and applause of an entire castle.

Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.


I continued to follow The Boy Who Lived through his tumultuous years at Hogwarts. I was with Harry and Ron, on the back of Fawkes the phoenix, as they rose out of the chamber of secrets. I shed tears along with the entire Great Hall after the death of Cedric Diggory. I beamed at Hermione, along with everyone else to have met her, in awe and admiration of her repeated brilliance. My fists even rose before Hagrid’s at the utterance of an insult directed at Albus Dumbledore.

Though, in order to have such an impact, Harry Potter did not comfort me solely as a distraction. I was also learning lessons. I was finding many more parallels than you would expect between a melancholy boy and a wizard famed for defeating the most evil villain to have ever lived. To me, the boy under the staircase was no different from the boy under the cigarette burned blanket. But Harry showed me that a large amount of evil can be weathered by sheer bravery and kindness. Ron taught me that fierce friendship is often more reassuring than any safeguard or armor. Hermione imparted within me the importance of justice, learning and true boldness.

Sadly enough, however much The Chosen One helped me through my turmoil, I was still in it. And that is also not to pretend that it never got worse. It always did.

Harry, suffering like this proves you are still a man! This pain is part of being human … the fact that you can feel pain like this is your greatest strength.

My mom’s first overdose, me being removed by DCFS, my dad’s attempted suicide, and my mom’s subsequent overdoses and eventual suicide all happened alongside Harry’s equally arduous years. We braved them together. There were times when it seemed pointless to fight, times when it seemed I would drown in the empty coffee cups piling around me and the circumstances I was so unfairly born in to. But again, a curious skinny teenage boy was able to teach me that being defeated by either surrendering to circumstance,  or with your wand raised at the heart your opponent, are two vastly different things. Hagrid’s strong hands seemed to support me physically, and Dumbledore's odd brand of wisdom did the same for me emotionally.

It was, he thought, the difference between being dragged into the arena to face a battle to the death and walking into the arena with your head held high. Some people, perhaps, would say that there was little to choose between the two ways, but Dumbledore knew – and so do I, thought Harry, with a rush of fierce pride, and so did my parents – that there was all the difference in the world.

There eventually came a time, however, when I wondered whether I had become too scarred, too battle worn and blemished to ever be a truly good person. I had been born into a dark place and, while I was alive, I didn’t feel exactly untouched. More often than I’d like to admit, I nearly resigned all of my will to do and be good, and instead take the path that I was born on into addiction and mistreatment. How could I be anything but foul with so much ugliness constantly surrounding me?

It is our choices, Harry, that show us who we truly are, far more than our abilities.

But as I’m sure you can guess by now, Harry James Potter again came crashing down on a dragon, not only saving the wizarding world, but myself included. Harry showed me that even with a piece of the most vicious soul to exist living inside you, you can still have the courage to make the right choice. Sirius left his entire family at the age of sixteen illustrating what Dumbledore echoed, “It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” And so I made my choice, and continue to make it every day.

This is why a skinny bespectacled boy is not only The Boy Who Lived, but will always be the boy who kept me living.


Quote
Harry Potter didn’t cross my path until I was in my late teens, and I wasn’t entirely ready to go back to a world of magical boarding schools again.

Then the Mirror of Erised changed my mind.

My mother had passed away by the time I read Philosopher’s Stone as a student and even though I had never been an 11-year-old boy wizard, I understood a little of how Harry felt.

I was all caught up by the time Deathly Hallows was published. I remember staying up to read it through the night and ending up in floods of tears as Lily Potter said to Harry: “You’ve been so brave.” Those are the kind of words you long to hear when you’ve lost a parent. These stories hit you where you live sometimes, in the most beautiful way.

 ‘I came to love the Harry Potter stories at a time in my life when I really needed to remember that you can come back from a loss a lot stronger than you ever thought possible.’ Photograph: Murray Close/AP
You tend to gravitate towards things when you need them most. The album that got you through high school, the film that changed your life. I think I came to love the Harry Potter stories at a time in my life when I really needed to remember that you can come back from a loss a lot stronger than you ever thought possible.

It’s strange though, because there seems to be a line that Harry Potter crosses with some fantasy fans – as if it’s somehow childish, because it’s about children. What got me into the series wasn’t that I grew up alongside Ron, Harry and Hermione but that I could relate to what they’d lost, what they were trying to protect. And because it’s littered with beautiful notions like banishing fear with laughter, or being able to defeat something that’s determined to snuff out your happiness with a joyful thought.

I’ve always loved to read – it’s why I studied English, it’s why I wanted to become a writer. I now work for [the Harry Potter website] Pottermore and I honestly have to pinch myself just about every day. As a lover of the written word, it’s such a special world to be a part of.

It’s my job to love Harry Potter, but it’s also a joy.

Quote
“That which Voldemort does not value, he takes no trouble to understand. Of house-elves and children’s tales, of love, loyalty, and innocence, Voldemort knows and understands nothing. Nothing. That they all have a power…beyond the reach of any magic, is a truth he has never grasped.”

She handed me a dog-eared book whose pages fanned out like a bird’s wings poised for flight. The cracked spine and folded pages spoke of a well loved story.
 
“I know you have a lot of time on your hands right now,” she explained. “I think that you’d like this book. It might help take your mind off things for a while.”
 
It was true; I did have a lot of time on my hands. Since I had withdrawn from school I divided my days between the hospital and home. At the hospital I was subjected to a battery of tests that my doctors hoped would lead to a diagnosis. They poked and prodded me, ran ultrasounds and full body scans, testing for everything from leukemia to valley fever. I was sent to more specialists than I can count and all sent me home with the same report, “According to our tests, there is nothing wrong with you”. At home I let myself collapse under the weight of anxiety, uncertainty, and fear. Physically I was a mess, sleeping fourteen hours one day and staying up for thirty-six hours straight the next. On top of the exhaustion there was a host of bizarre and frightening symptoms: fevers approaching one hundred and five, outbreaks of angry hives all over my body, and stabbing pains so intense that I would wake up crying in the middle of the night from the pain of it. Emotionally I was hanging on, but the tethers that bound me to hope were slowly beginning to fray.
 
So on the afternoon that my friend stopped by after school to deliver some words of encouragement and a tattered book, I was more than willing to accept a distraction. I thanked her for the book and set it down next to my makeshift bed on the couch. We talked some more about school. She passed me a stack of notes she had collected from my classmates, all embellished with hearts and flowers, all saying how much I was missed and how much they hoped I would feel better soon. When it was time for her to go I was left alone with the tokens of her stay: a pile of well wishes strewn across my lap and one boy wizard.
 
Later that night, when all the house was silent and everyone else had long since gone to bed, I lay awake on the couch downstairs. Propped up by a mound of pillows that cushioned my aching frame, I picked up the book once more. The light from the lamp poured over me, pooling in my lap so that the words Harry Potter shone out bright and inviting against the matte cover. Ignoring the stabs of pain in my back, I opened the book and began to read:
 
…A breeze ruffled the neat hedges of Privet Drive, which lay silent and tidy under the inky sky, the very last place you would expect astonishing things to happen. Harry Potter rolled over inside his blankets without waking up. One small hand closed on the letter beside him and he slept on, not knowing he was special, not knowing he was famous […] He couldn’t know that at this very moment, people meeting in secret all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: “To Harry Potter–the boy who lived!”
 
And although I had no way of knowing it then, The-boy-who-lived was to become an important part of my life in the coming months and years. Opening that first book was like opening a window into another world; a world where my worries and pain were subsumed in an atmosphere of magic and adventure. Physically I might be stuck in the hospital waiting for my weekly blood tests, but in my imagination I was wandering the halls of Hogwarts with Harry, Ron and Hermione. While a part of me might be sitting at home, immobilized by pain and exhaustion, another part was trekking through the Forbidden Forest in the dead of night. School might be barred to me in real life, but there was always a place for me at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
 
I read the first book in a matter of days and then promptly read it again. My mother soon devised a new reward system: every time I made it through another round of medical tests, she would take me to the bookstore to buy the next Harry Potter. The anticipation of another book, another year at Hogwarts, helped me get through the six months of testing leading up to my diagnosis.
 
Beyond the delightful possibilities presented by the world of Harry Potter, I was drawn to the personalities and struggles of the characters. In many ways they each became my teacher and my friend. Harry taught me what it meant to be courageous in the face of loss, to not let your identity be dictated by the tragedies of your past. As Harry struggled to find some measure of understanding and acceptance of his story–that of a boy orphaned by murder and stalked by a strange and terrible destiny–his struggles gave voice to my own. There were other lessons as well. Ron taught me the value of a loyal friend, while I learned the importance of combining intellect with justice and mercy from Hermione. The real world seemed populated by people who had no answers for me and nothing meaningful to say; but in Albus Dumbledore I had someone of unfailing wisdom and compassion. No matter what I was facing I could always crack open a copy of Harry Potter and find characters who had faced down greater terrors with courage and conviction.
 
Aristotle said that poetry–meaning fictional epics such as The Odyssey–was better than history, because while history can only tell us what has happened, poetry–or fiction–tells us what could happen. History is specific to one moment and place in time. Fiction can broaden our experiences beyond what is possible within the context of our own lives. Fiction stretches the mind in a way that nothing else is capable of.
 
I spent my teenage years coming to grips with the realities of a life with chronic illness. In many ways that struggle threatened to consume my identity, so that I was in danger of allowing my illness to become my life. For a child or teenager, someone who is at the beginning of their journey of self-discovery, the capacity to imagine, to dream of realities beyond what we can see right in front of us, is a gift of incalculable value. Harry Potter helped me to look beyond my own fear and pain, beyond my life that seemed ready to crumble to pieces, by immersing me in a story larger than myself.
 
At its best, fiction allows us to transcend our own experiences, to move deeper into the common joys and sorrows, hopes and follies that make us human. Literature has the capacity to enable us, as Atticus Finch says, to step into another person’s shoes and walk around for a while. At its best, literature can speak into our own lives by teaching us what it means to have courage, showing us the value of sacrifice and conviction, and pressing deep into our hearts narratives of truth and love. I, for one, owe a great debt of gratitude to a scrawny young boy who came alongside me during one of the darkest, most difficult times in my life. His journey has been my journey; I have lent him my time and attention and he has lent me the courage to live and imagine an extraordinary life.

Like the books or not, this is what I meant by the impact books like Harry Potter cause. That's what I aim for in my writing. To give comfort to one other person, hope, inspiration is all I'd ask for. J.K. had a lot of problems going on in her childhood, and how she put those in these pages forged a connection for others feeling loneliness or alienation. I came across the series during a very difficult time, and I wasn't even allowed to read it, but I did anyway because...I honestly don't know what made me pick up the first book. I just did, and I think it's the characters that really helped me through it. Hermione, Remus, Luna, and Tonks most of all. I connected to the way Luna was bullied for her differences, Tonks' ability to be herself even though she could look however she wished, Remus' disabilities and hardships caused by something uncontrollable, and Hermione trying so desperately to fit into a new world and prove herself. You know?
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: CryptofCthulhu on April 23, 2016, 10:40:45 PM
Well yeah, but indeed, we're talking about YA so... I read the first HP book when I was 11 yo, exactly like the main character, and had caught up with the publishing dates by book 4, and was less and less interested by the series as it drew to a close, and never saw the last three movies either.
HP, to me, is iconic in the same way of other works I read as a young teen, but they remain there, because they can't really suffer adult perusal that well.

So having moral values roughly sketched isn't something I'd put against a book that can safely given to a ten years old.

I had my driver's license by the time the first HP book was published. And even as a kid I doubt I would have identified with HP. He's kind of the representation of the 98lb weakling that makes something of himself. I was looking up to guys like Schwarzenegger and Stallone when I was a kid.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: marshall_lamour on April 23, 2016, 10:50:39 PM
I think the best way to promote any idea or opinion in a book is to present compelling arguments on a topic and leave it at that. If you're arguments are good, you don't need to tell readers what you think about the issue and what you want them to think.
Soapboxing either inside the story or as a commentary shouldn't be necessary and distracts more than it enlightens.

What might be even more compelling is to demonstrate the shortcomings and utter failures of whatever values you hold dear. This might even mean making your villains the agents of your most deeply held ideals or discontent, or you would at least make your heroes that of your most romantic notions or simply the arbiter of your conflicting values. Either way, putting them through the wringer as both a trial by fire for your values and as a way to assert their worthiness, however precarious or even ruinous, is probably the greatest service possible to those values. I suppose this is largely the element of tragedy.

The triumph of the author's own values in the story's underpinnings should be the questions aroused in the reader's own mind, and to no lesser extent, in the mind author. All work is essentially autobiographical, and if the author is unwilling or unable to wrangle with their own bias, it will show more plainly than if they were to tackle it in a deliberate and artful fashion.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: CryptofCthulhu on April 23, 2016, 11:03:59 PM
Tolkien said in no uncertain terms that LOTR was not an allegory and that he doesn't even like allegory. Regardless, it brings up a ton of different topics that have been discussed for decades.

Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: shadowkat678 on April 23, 2016, 11:07:15 PM
Tolkien said in no uncertain terms that LOTR was not an allegory and that he doesn't even like allegory. Regardless, it brings up a ton of different topics that have been discussed for decades.

And Balm said the Oz books were just a fun children's book made to entertain. Tolkien also talked to Lewis about how he was failing in that regard. Look at his letters. :)
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: CryptofCthulhu on April 23, 2016, 11:15:35 PM
Tolkien said in no uncertain terms that LOTR was not an allegory and that he doesn't even like allegory. Regardless, it brings up a ton of different topics that have been discussed for decades.

And Balm said the Oz books were just a fun children's book made to entertain. Tolkien also talked to Lewis about how he was failing in that regard. Look at his letters. :)

Well it's hard to ignore your life experiences and how they shape your writing, but it doesn't mean you have to be overt about the "message" you are trying to convey with the story. I plan on tackling a whole lot of hot-button issues, but hopefully with as much subtlety as possible.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: shadowkat678 on April 23, 2016, 11:36:38 PM
True enough. However, considering how many people have managed to miss the message of Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis, which seemed obvious to me on my first read. However, that could have been do to my own experiences.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: marshall_lamour on April 23, 2016, 11:57:06 PM
Tolkien said in no uncertain terms that LOTR was not an allegory and that he doesn't even like allegory. Regardless, it brings up a ton of different topics that have been discussed for decades.
Just because an author didn't explicitly or even tacitly employ allegory doesn't mean that it cannot be reasonably surmised from the outcome of their work. An author can either harness or embrace this dimension of their work or spend a lifetime refuting it. Personally, I prefer work which trascends simple allegory, but I believe that a writer needs to first grasp whatever bias comes through their work before they can hope to reach beyond it.

I feel that it's as much the author's duty not to publicly assign some hidden meaning to their work as to not outright dismiss whatever meaning readers might surmise. If what is surmised is so abhorrent to the author that they feel moved to refute it, perhaps it's more aptly a failure on their part, rather than the readers'. Furthermore, an artist may very well not fully grasp every dimension of their own work and should be either open to discourse on the matter or otherwise simply set the work free.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Nora on April 24, 2016, 12:55:11 AM
Well yeah, but indeed, we're talking about YA so... I read the first HP book when I was 11 yo, exactly like the main character, and had caught up with the publishing dates by book 4, and was less and less interested by the series as it drew to a close, and never saw the last three movies either.
HP, to me, is iconic in the same way of other works I read as a young teen, but they remain there, because they can't really suffer adult perusal that well.

So having moral values roughly sketched isn't something I'd put against a book that can safely given to a ten years old.

I had my driver's license by the time the first HP book was published. And even as a kid I doubt I would have identified with HP. He's kind of the representation of the 98lb weakling that makes something of himself. I was looking up to guys like Schwarzenegger and Stallone when I was a kid.

I never said you should identify to HP, if reading these books. Man, that's a bit of a sophism on your part. I'm saying it's a kid's book, and that even if you wouldn't have liked it at age ten, you still probably woudn't have picked on the stuff you find exasperating now as an adult. You don't have to look up to the MC of your book to enjoy it. Reading is a lot about widening your own views on the world by seeing it through someone else's eyes, isn't it?
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: shadowkat678 on April 24, 2016, 12:55:16 AM
Also, Tolkin put a LOT of time into his world and its stories. He's bound to have drawn from his interests, especially in history and linguistics. Certainly parts of him in there. Drew a lot from his war experiences, and his distaste for the quickly progressing technology of the time is pretty evident in the Elven and Hobbit lifestyles where the Orcs are the only truly industrialized beings, and maybe the Dwarves who are known to be greedy. I did a paper on it.

Edit: Agreeing completely with what Nora says above.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Yora on April 24, 2016, 09:59:57 AM
When Orwell wrote 1984, he was writing about Stalin. Big Brother is Stalin. He uses fiction to make a political statement about urgent matters of the current day.

Tolkien did not do that. Sauron and Saruman are not faschists and the Fields of the Dead are not World War 1. Tolkien wrote about evil, and he wrote about death. He wrote about these in general, and being a person who lived through the first half of the 20th century, he was using images and motives that he and his audience were familiar with.
He has a message. He wants to warn about evil being done in the name of progress and order. But in an abstract form. He is neither writing about the Nazis nor the Soviets, or anyone else. That's the big difference, and the one that was important to him.

What might be even more compelling is to demonstrate the shortcomings and utter failures of whatever values you hold dear. This might even mean making your villains the agents of your most deeply held ideals or discontent, or you would at least make your heroes that of your most romantic notions or simply the arbiter of your conflicting values. Either way, putting them through the wringer as both a trial by fire for your values and as a way to assert their worthiness, however precarious or even ruinous, is probably the greatest service possible to those values.
Which is why I am never happy when writers create a very medieval-esque world but with perfect social equality. You can enjoy such a world and it would be nice, but as a statement it is very weak. It only says "wouldn't it be nice if we did have social equality?" But there are no arguments related to what is wrong with societies that are unequal, and what needs to change to achieve equality.
Seeing ideals in their perfect form is pretty, but there's not really a message in them.

Just because an author didn't explicitly or even tacitly employ allegory doesn't mean that it cannot be reasonably surmised from the outcome of their work. An author can either harness or embrace this dimension of their work or spend a lifetime refuting it. Personally, I prefer work which trascends simple allegory, but I believe that a writer needs to first grasp whatever bias comes through their work before they can hope to reach beyond it.
This is going right into the facinating world of literary deconstruction. The idea behind deconstruction is that anyone who creates content is not fully in control of the process and the final result, and instead a lot of the final work is the result of unconscious ideas and assumptions that the creator has. Very often ideas and assumptions that are so common throughout society that rarely anyone ever conciously questions them.

Because of this, any time you tell a story or make any statement, you are not just telling the story you want to tell. There are also other stories that happened unconsciously, pretty much by accident. The technique of deconstruction takes the work apart and looks at the pieces to find some other meanings, some other stories that are present in the text.
To use a stupid, but simple example, take someone who says "I am not racist, but..." or "Some of my friends are ..." Yes, he makes a statement, and he might even believe it. But it tells us something about how the mind of that person looks like and by what logic it opperates. And no idea is unique. Lots of people think that way and people who make such statements tend to assume that most other people think the same.

This does not mean that the creator of the work supports all the ideas that are presented. Some meanings found in a work might be important to some people in the audience but be completely insignificant to the creator. And in some case the creator might even very much disapprove of a statement he made in his work, he just never realized that he unconsciously did something that goes against his own values.

Which is why the classic teacher's question "What is the author trying to tell us?" is not helpful at all. Unless the author included an appendix with the work in which he states his intentions, the work itself can not tell us what the author meant to say. There are always several different things that are being said, and often they contradict each other. You have to know about the creator to make a good guess what his intended message was. The work itself doesn't tell you. It just gives you all the messages for you to discover.
When you find a message in a work that the author didn't mean to put there, you're not wrong. You just discovered something about the way the authors mind works that he wasn't aware about himself.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Peat on April 24, 2016, 11:06:11 AM

What might be even more compelling is to demonstrate the shortcomings and utter failures of whatever values you hold dear. This might even mean making your villains the agents of your most deeply held ideals or discontent, or you would at least make your heroes that of your most romantic notions or simply the arbiter of your conflicting values. Either way, putting them through the wringer as both a trial by fire for your values and as a way to assert their worthiness, however precarious or even ruinous, is probably the greatest service possible to those values. I suppose this is largely the element of tragedy.

The triumph of the author's own values in the story's underpinnings should be the questions aroused in the reader's own mind, and to no lesser extent, in the mind author. All work is essentially autobiographical, and if the author is unwilling or unable to wrangle with their own bias, it will show more plainly than if they were to tackle it in a deliberate and artful fashion.

The only work I can think of that comes close to that is Grant Morrison's The Invisibles, still far and away my most favourite graphic novel. I don't want to put too many spoilers here but you can very clearly see his beliefs in the beginning and while the guys holding them win, there is a certain level of opposition to his own ideas, not just the character espousing them; also, perhaps, an evolution in his ideas.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Yora on April 24, 2016, 12:07:42 PM
I think The Lord of the Rings actually does something like this. It's quite clear that the Hobbits in the Shire are living a wonderful life as Tolkien envisions it, but in the end they are happy people because they don't have to deal with the rest of the world. Outside this garden of ignorance whose borders are protected by others, this pastoral idyll is not actually possible.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: CryptofCthulhu on April 24, 2016, 12:57:52 PM
Tolkien said in no uncertain terms that LOTR was not an allegory and that he doesn't even like allegory. Regardless, it brings up a ton of different topics that have been discussed for decades.
Just because an author didn't explicitly or even tacitly employ allegory doesn't mean that it cannot be reasonably surmised from the outcome of their work. An author can either harness or embrace this dimension of their work or spend a lifetime refuting it. Personally, I prefer work which trascends simple allegory, but I believe that a writer needs to first grasp whatever bias comes through their work before they can hope to reach beyond it.

I feel that it's as much the author's duty not to publicly assign some hidden meaning to their work as to not outright dismiss whatever meaning readers might surmise. If what is surmised is so abhorrent to the author that they feel moved to refute it, perhaps it's more aptly a failure on their part, rather than the readers'. Furthermore, an artist may very well not fully grasp every dimension of their own work and should be either open to discourse on the matter or otherwise simply set the work free.

Very true. I hope to leave enough room for interpretation and just let people decide what is what when it comes to symbolism, etc. I don't think it would be very rewarding if I set out to write a story that rigidly reinforces my own world viewpoints and the conclusion is that I'm right.

Even if I think someone's interpretation is dead wrong, I'd rather have them interested enough to take the time to delve deeper into the writing than just spell everything out and set in stone what the "correct" interpretation is.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Justan Henner on April 24, 2016, 04:24:49 PM
When you find a message in a work that the author didn't mean to put there, you're not wrong. You just discovered something about the way the authors mind works that he wasn't aware about himself.

No. Not so much. You've discovered something about yourself and your own biases, and now you're projecting what you want to believe onto the author.

Literary analysis has about the same level of a factual basis in psychology, as a palm reader has in telling the future.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Lu Kudzoza on April 24, 2016, 05:03:17 PM
Quote
I feel that it's as much the author's duty not to publicly assign some hidden meaning to their work as to not outright dismiss whatever meaning readers might surmise. If what is surmised is so abhorrent to the author that they feel moved to refute it, perhaps it's more aptly a failure on their part, rather than the readers'. Furthermore, an artist may very well not fully grasp every dimension of their own work and should be either open to discourse on the matter or otherwise simply set the work free.

Translation: My interpretation is the correct one, therefore, the author should submit to my will and apologize or keep their mouth shut so I can push my message by bashing their book.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Yora on April 24, 2016, 05:24:34 PM
Well, that too. It's actually both. Just as the author does not have full control of what he puts into the story, the reader does not have full control over how he fills in the blanks. And in any kind of narrative there is much more blanks than there is solid facts.
Things get even more interesting when you consider that neither the mind of the author or the reader exists in a vacuum but are greatly shaped by the social environment. The culture in which the work is produced is also producing the work.

Deconstructing something all by yourself is often not very revealing. You are simply presenting your conclusion about the events in the story and how they are different from what the author appears to have implied to mean to communicate. It really gets interesting when you start discussing as a group and you all are pointing out each others unspoken assumptions and prejudices. Then you can really start to gain some insights into what the preconceptions of the culture are and what your own preconceptions are, and whatever is then left is most likely the preconceptions of the author.

Yes, you are correct. Reading something into a work does not tell you something about the writer by itself. You need to examine and reexamine the text with a group; the more diverse the better.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Lu Kudzoza on April 24, 2016, 05:36:55 PM
Quote
Well, that too. It's actually both. Just as the author does not have full control of what he puts into the story, the reader does not have full control over how he fills in the blanks. And in any kind of narrative there is much more blanks than there is solid facts. Things get even more interesting when you consider that neither the mind of the author or the reader exists in a vacuum but are greatly shaped by the social environment. The culture in which the work is produced is also producing the work.

Agree. But, I can't assign bias or motive to the author when I'm the one filling in the blanks.

Quote
Yes, you are correct. Reading something into a work does not tell you something about the writer by itself. You need to examine and reexamine the text with a group; the more diverse the better.

All this accomplishes is misinterpreting the author's work by more people... the more diverse the worse the interpretation.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: JRTroughton on April 24, 2016, 06:05:45 PM
I think there's a danger in allegory in that I think it's very easy to get wrong. If it doesn't work, or is too apparent, it is hated. Narnia gets a lot of acidic words for the allegorical stuff.

However, I also think a writer's political views are likely to seep through their work on some level.  Whether it's picked up on or is particularly noticeable is another matter.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Yora on April 24, 2016, 06:08:50 PM
All this accomplishes is misinterpreting the author's work by more people... the more diverse the worse the interpretation.
How do you misinterprete fiction? Disagreeing with the author that his hero isn't a cool guy and didn't do the right thing is just a disagreement. But that does't mean that you're interpreting it wrong?
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Peat on April 24, 2016, 06:30:31 PM
I think there's a danger in allegory in that I think it's very easy to get wrong. If it doesn't work, or is too apparent, it is hated. Narnia gets a lot of acidic words for the allegorical stuff.

However, I also think a writer's political views are likely to seep through their work on some level.  Whether it's picked up on or is particularly noticeable is another matter.

It gets a lot of acidic words, but it also has a huge amount of popularity, despite being a solid sixty years old. And I imagine it's also had its share of people who've really strongly appreciated the messages in Lewis' writing.

So is that allegory not working, or working?
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Lu Kudzoza on April 24, 2016, 06:54:40 PM
Quote
How do you misinterprete fiction? Disagreeing with the author that his hero isn't a cool guy and didn't do the right thing is just a disagreement. But that does't mean that you're interpreting it wrong?

If we're talking about your interpretation of the work then you can't misinterpret. You own your thoughts.

If we're talking about the author's interpretation of the work and your disagreement causes you to say the author's interpretation is wrong then you've misinterpreted the work. The author owns his thoughts.

It's all about perspective.  You own your interpretation, the author owns his, I own mine. As long as it stays that way everyone is happy. The problems come when I try to assign my interpretation to the author (or to you). ;)
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: JRTroughton on April 24, 2016, 06:56:27 PM
I don't know.

I'd say it's an enchanting world that's (supposedly) very well written, with a classic plot, and that's why it's loved. The allegory is perhaps an aside in terms of it's success, but is heavily cited in criticism. I think the allegory gives the books a less favourable name, overall. Nowadays, anywho.

But, y'know. Opinions.

I haven't read the Narnia books either, so I'm in no place to judge!
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Yora on April 24, 2016, 06:59:55 PM
Is it the fact that Narnia is alegorical that has people displeased with it, or perhaps the fact that the alegory is about Jesus?
That's a pretty big difference of two very distinct and separate issues.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: shadowkat678 on April 24, 2016, 07:20:32 PM
And all this discussion just shows me how much of a reader's response critic I am. Everyone interprets things due to their own life experiences, thoughts, feelings, and current mood. That includes the writers as well as their readers, and even the high and mighty literary critics. There is no single truth to anything. There are too many people out there for everyone to agree with one thing.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Lu Kudzoza on April 24, 2016, 07:43:32 PM
Quote
And all this discussion just shows me how much of a reader's response critic I am. Everyone interprets things due to their own life experiences, thoughts, feelings, and current mood. That includes the writers as well as their readers, and even the high and mighty literary critics. There is no single truth to anything. There are too many people out there for everyone to agree with one thing.

The world is divided into those who think they are right.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: shadowkat678 on April 24, 2016, 08:02:02 PM
Quote
And all this discussion just shows me how much of a reader's response critic I am. Everyone interprets things due to their own life experiences, thoughts, feelings, and current mood. That includes the writers as well as their readers, and even the high and mighty literary critics. There is no single truth to anything. There are too many people out there for everyone to agree with one thing.

The world is divided into those who think they are right.

Or those who just follow what's right for them. Sometimes what's right for them has to do with accepting what's right in the eyes of others instead.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Peat on April 24, 2016, 08:31:54 PM
I don't know.

I'd say it's an enchanting world that's (supposedly) very well written, with a classic plot, and that's why it's loved. The allegory is perhaps an aside in terms of it's success, but is heavily cited in criticism. I think the allegory gives the books a less favourable name, overall. Nowadays, anywho.

But, y'know. Opinions.

I haven't read the Narnia books either, so I'm in no place to judge!

But would that bother Lewis? Most people don't make professions of faith like that to be popular - nor do most authors write their books to be popular either. Lewis wrote the books he wanted to and was wildly successful with them by most standards. Some people might split the various parts of the books, but maybe Lewis wouldn't.

Maybe. I don't know. I'm more developing a possible theory than anything.

Maybe the world wouldn't be so enchanting without the allegory either. I'd suggest that generally the most popular fantasy worlds possess elements we can easily relate to our own and a lot of depth; the allegory gives a lot of that. Maybe. I don't know.

I suppose the only definite I'd give is that at the very least, Lewis showed you can be very successful in spite of an allegory :p
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: shadowkat678 on April 24, 2016, 08:53:37 PM
I don't know.

I'd say it's an enchanting world that's (supposedly) very well written, with a classic plot, and that's why it's loved. The allegory is perhaps an aside in terms of it's success, but is heavily cited in criticism. I think the allegory gives the books a less favourable name, overall. Nowadays, anywho.

But, y'know. Opinions.

I haven't read the Narnia books either, so I'm in no place to judge!

But would that bother Lewis? Most people don't make professions of faith like that to be popular - nor do most authors write their books to be popular either. Lewis wrote the books he wanted to and was wildly successful with them by most standards. Some people might split the various parts of the books, but maybe Lewis wouldn't.

Maybe. I don't know. I'm more developing a possible theory than anything.

Maybe the world wouldn't be so enchanting without the allegory either. I'd suggest that generally the most popular fantasy worlds possess elements we can easily relate to our own and a lot of depth; the allegory gives a lot of that. Maybe. I don't know.

I suppose the only definite I'd give is that at the very least, Lewis showed you can be very successful in spite of an allegory :p

He actually wrote it after Tolkien brought him to Christianity, though not the branch he would have liked. Then Lewis wrote his books to display the principles of Christianity in a way to make it easier to understand. At least, his view of it. He also did it so it would be in a entertaining way. He definitely had a goal, and you can see it even more if you study the order he put them out as. It's actually really fascinating to look at. I find it cool, but maybe because I enjoy picking things apart and playing i spy with things. Analyzing is fun. So, to make it short, I agree that the allegory adds to the depth for me. ;D

(Though may I point out that those professions of faith would have been far more popular during his time?)
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: marshall_lamour on April 24, 2016, 11:53:48 PM
When you find a message in a work that the author didn't mean to put there, you're not wrong. You just discovered something about the way the authors mind works that he wasn't aware about himself.

No. Not so much. You've discovered something about yourself and your own biases, and now you're projecting what you want to believe onto the author.

That sounds an awful lot like solipsism, which to my mind directly contradicts the literary experience. Literature is a communication medium. It is a way for the author to immerse a reader in a piece of their own mind. Communication can fail at both ends of this and reveal the shortcomings of either party. An author can reveal more than intended just as a reader's own worldview can be challenged.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Justan Henner on April 25, 2016, 12:28:13 AM
When you find a message in a work that the author didn't mean to put there, you're not wrong. You just discovered something about the way the authors mind works that he wasn't aware about himself.

No. Not so much. You've discovered something about yourself and your own biases, and now you're projecting what you want to believe onto the author.

That sounds an awful lot like solipsism, which to my mind directly contradicts the literary experience. Literature is a communication medium. It is a way for the author to immerse a reader in a piece of their own mind. Communication can fail at both ends of this and reveal the shortcomings of either party. An author can reveal more than intended just as a reader's own worldview can be challenged.

No, it's a repudiation of the idea that interpretation is the same thing as understanding. Attributing meanings and motives to an author based on your interpretation, and then treating those interpretations as a credible and factual thing, is just absurd; as if simply by coming to a conclusion about another person, you have gained a factual insight into that person's character. You might be right, you might be wrong, but to assume you know the parts of the author's mind that the author does not recognize him or herself, is not only arrogant, but a critical failure in the art of communication.

There are a multitude of experiences in life, and every person is going to interpret an author's work through a different lens. Each of them will see the work in a different manner  - some positively, some negatively - and the author can do his best to convey the message he wishes to convey, but there will never be a case in which he conveys the same meaning to every person. Sure, in a sense that means that he has conveyed meanings beyond that which he intended to convey, but that does not mean that he has revealed a hidden facet of his character. It does not mean that he is responsible for what others see in his work, beyond the fact the he is responsible for creating it. It does not mean that everything seen within his work is 'his unintended meaning.' If we assert the author is responsible, then we must say that J.D. Salinger murdered John Lennon. We must say that, even if Salinger didn't know that he wanted to kill John Lennon, subconsciously, he wanted that bespectacled bastard dead.

To me, this desire to insert meaning into an author's work, and then to attribute it to a failure on the author's part, or on her inability to overcome her own bias, reeks of fanaticism. It reeks of the desire to discredit and destroy for the sake upholding one's own beliefs above that of any other.

I like what Not Lu and Yora have said above. People are entitled to their own interpretations. Absolutely. But this idea within literary analysis of "just because you can make an argument for it, that means you are factually correct," is one I find to be just so damned silly. It's an exercise in self-indulgence. Why can't the author have her opinions also? Why can't the author have her opinion without every misinterpretation being presented as her 'actual' meaning?
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: marshall_lamour on April 25, 2016, 02:24:08 AM

... to assume you know the parts of the author's mind that the author does not recognize him or herself, is not only arrogant, but a critical failure in the art of communication.

Again, communication is a two-way street, but I'm not particularly interested in the author as a person; rather, I'm interested in the source of the work and what considerations went into it--the author as the author. However, there is an extent to which an author's personal life can and should color their work: Heidegger, Junger, and Mishima are some of the more complex cases that come to mind. Tolkien's own merits certainly enhance the value of his work. I can't imagine reading Kerouac in quite the same way without understanding who was.

Nietzsche thought little of Socrates as a specimen of man (probably as much as himself), but I think that made his ideas all the more intriguing for his consideration.

Quote
There are a multitude of experiences in life, and every person is going to interpret an author's work through a different lens.

There are as many, if not more, common threads in life. If reader and author engage thoughtfully, they may discover these threads and a greater understanding between them, despite distance, time, or any other disparity.

Quote
To me, this desire to insert meaning into an author's work [ . . . ] reeks of the desire to discredit and destroy for the sake upholding one's own beliefs above that of any other.

If it used for that purpose. Is all literary critique or analysis so petty? I have my doubts.

Quote
Why can't the author have her opinions also? Why can't the author have her opinion without every misinterpretation being presented as her 'actual' meaning?

Frankly, opinions are exactly the problem. Certainly anyone can form an opinion of their own work or the work of others, but of what value is that unless either party has engaged in a thoughtful analysis of the work. I'm not saying that someone like Charles Manson is somehow just as correct about the meaning of "Helter Skelter" as anyone else; far from it, I don't think that anyone would consider it reasonable or credible or thoughtful, and just as one would consider the source of a work, one would likewise consider the source of an interpretation of that work.

Is Nietzsche responsible for the distortion of his work by the Nazi party? I would contend both yes and no, but thanks to his own consideration of how his work could and would be misinterpreted, rational minds have prevailed, leaving us with a much more enlightened perspective of the body of his work.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Justan Henner on April 25, 2016, 03:42:37 AM
Certainly, and I'm not arguing that a reader can't gain insight into an author's character from reading their work. I'm saying only that it's unlikely that every interpretation is an accurate assessment of the author, and that every perceived meaning is 'correct, and its only just that the author didn't realize it about himself'.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Nora on April 25, 2016, 04:49:29 AM
This entire argument reminds me of the controversy after Wolf of Wall Street came out, and some people came howling that the movie was an apology to that lifestyle.
I didn't believe that it was, but I don't believe that there were a lot of moral judgements at all. It was a great movie, showing the madness of the man's life, and some saw greatness to imitate, and others saw what a miserable wretch he becomes, losing everything because he can't pull out of the game.
In the end it's a movie that is perfect for its lack of moral judgement. You're invited to dislike or like characters as best fit your morality.
To this day I'm not so sure what Scorcese actually thinks of a man like the Wolf.

I don't believe that I need to know that to enjoy the movie, as it provides a 'slice of life' for me to analyse as I see fit.

But that movie is also great because dicaprio narrates it, in a way quite similar to a book's narrator voice, muddying the waters even more.

So yeah, in general I don't even think about what the author is trying to feed me. I know he feeds me a story. Maybe he'll be backing a character's pov and hope to make us do the same, but I'll be backing another and not liking the conclusions of his voice character. I don't think it really matters.

Publishing a book is probably a lot like making a child. You nurse it and ingrains it with your ideas and morals, and when it comes of age and goes through the world, it'll go and affect different people in different ways. Sometimes someone will pick it up and use it as an excuse to bash someone else's head in, and at that stage your really can't be held responsible for that twice removed person's behaviour or thoughts.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Yora on April 25, 2016, 10:39:18 AM
I like what Not Lu and Yora have said above. People are entitled to their own interpretations. Absolutely. But this idea within literary analysis of "just because you can make an argument for it, that means you are factually correct," is one I find to be just so damned silly. It's an exercise in self-indulgence. Why can't the author have her opinions also? Why can't the author have her opinion without every misinterpretation being presented as her 'actual' meaning?
Of course completely true. What a deconstructive reading of a text can reveal are instances where the author is contradicting himself by having the text promote one opinion, but the things that are happening and done in the story appear to support a different opinion.
Sometimes this can be done diliberately. I think satire usually works this way. But often, and I believe most often, finding such inconsistencies are good indications that the author has adopted an opinion or believe without having fully thought through the whole consequences. Not that creators of texts are special in this way. All human minds do that all the time. Ask the average person if the government should cut spending, and most people will say "Yes, of course!". But then you ask them what should be cut: Healthcare? Pensions? Infrastructure? Education? Police? Courts? And then you will get a lot of people saying "Well, don't cut those! Those are important and need a bigger budget." Everyone is for less government spending, but very few people could name a public service that should get cut. It sounded good at first and we were fully for it, but we didn't actually think it through. Humans do that all the time and authors are no exception.

When it comes to "What does the author want to tell us?" there is only one answer and the author is the only one who knows.
But when it comes to "What lessons can we take from this story?", every opinion is equally valid. While we can't look into the authors mind, searching for instances where the author's apparent intent doesn't line up with our interpretation of the events in the story can lead to interesting revelations about how our own mind works,  and how our society works. Asking "Why does he say one thing but shows another thing?" can't tell you exactly why he did it, but considering different possibilities why he might have done it often leads to very interesting insights.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: CryptofCthulhu on April 25, 2016, 12:43:20 PM
When you find a message in a work that the author didn't mean to put there, you're not wrong. You just discovered something about the way the authors mind works that he wasn't aware about himself.

No. Not so much. You've discovered something about yourself and your own biases, and now you're projecting what you want to believe onto the author.

That sounds an awful lot like solipsism, which to my mind directly contradicts the literary experience. Literature is a communication medium. It is a way for the author to immerse a reader in a piece of their own mind. Communication can fail at both ends of this and reveal the shortcomings of either party. An author can reveal more than intended just as a reader's own worldview can be challenged.

No, it's a repudiation of the idea that interpretation is the same thing as understanding. Attributing meanings and motives to an author based on your interpretation, and then treating those interpretations as a credible and factual thing, is just absurd; as if simply by coming to a conclusion about another person, you have gained a factual insight into that person's character. You might be right, you might be wrong, but to assume you know the parts of the author's mind that the author does not recognize him or herself, is not only arrogant, but a critical failure in the art of communication.


To me, this desire to insert meaning into an author's work, and then to attribute it to a failure on the author's part, or on her inability to overcome her own bias, reeks of fanaticism. It reeks of the desire to discredit and destroy for the sake upholding one's own beliefs above that of any other.


Amen. I had a college literature class that I had to suffer through because of this. The whole point was to apply different "theories" to interpret the author's work. Like feminist theory, queer theory, Marxist theory, etc., regardless of whether or not they were actually applicable to the subject matter. So essentially it was a class on how to look for things that just weren't there and try and make stories seem to be about things that they aren't.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: shadowkat678 on April 25, 2016, 01:44:54 PM
When you find a message in a work that the author didn't mean to put there, you're not wrong. You just discovered something about the way the authors mind works that he wasn't aware about himself.

No. Not so much. You've discovered something about yourself and your own biases, and now you're projecting what you want to believe onto the author.

That sounds an awful lot like solipsism, which to my mind directly contradicts the literary experience. Literature is a communication medium. It is a way for the author to immerse a reader in a piece of their own mind. Communication can fail at both ends of this and reveal the shortcomings of either party. An author can reveal more than intended just as a reader's own worldview can be challenged.

No, it's a repudiation of the idea that interpretation is the same thing as understanding. Attributing meanings and motives to an author based on your interpretation, and then treating those interpretations as a credible and factual thing, is just absurd; as if simply by coming to a conclusion about another person, you have gained a factual insight into that person's character. You might be right, you might be wrong, but to assume you know the parts of the author's mind that the author does not recognize him or herself, is not only arrogant, but a critical failure in the art of communication.


To me, this desire to insert meaning into an author's work, and then to attribute it to a failure on the author's part, or on her inability to overcome her own bias, reeks of fanaticism. It reeks of the desire to discredit and destroy for the sake upholding one's own beliefs above that of any other.


Amen. I had a college literature class that I had to suffer through because of this. The whole point was to apply different "theories" to interpret the author's work. Like feminist theory, queer theory, Marxist theory, etc., regardless of whether or not they were actually applicable to the subject matter. So essentially it was a class on how to look for things that just weren't there and try and make stories seem to be about things that they aren't.

Hey, we're doing that! I find it fascinating. If someone sees it, that means it's there at least for them.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Justan Henner on April 25, 2016, 02:35:32 PM
Amen. I had a college literature class that I had to suffer through because of this. The whole point was to apply different "theories" to interpret the author's work. Like feminist theory, queer theory, Marxist theory, etc., regardless of whether or not they were actually applicable to the subject matter. So essentially it was a class on how to look for things that just weren't there and try and make stories seem to be about things that they aren't.

Yeah, I was mostly thinking of academia in my response, haha. I remember one class in college, we read Death Comes for the Archbishop and it seemed that the answer to every analytical question one could muster came back to the professor saying, "Well remember, there's a good indication that Willa Cather was a closet lesbian."

"Why do you think she decided to write about a white bishop in the American Southwest?"

"Well remember, there's a good indication that Willa Cather was a closet lesbian."

It always amazed me that he could not only connect two unrelated points and always make it about her sexual orientation, but that he would do it while being completely uncertain on whether his claim toward her being gay was true. At some points, I think it was just an easy answer for him, rather than actually having to do some critical thinking.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: CryptofCthulhu on April 25, 2016, 03:16:27 PM
When you find a message in a work that the author didn't mean to put there, you're not wrong. You just discovered something about the way the authors mind works that he wasn't aware about himself.

No. Not so much. You've discovered something about yourself and your own biases, and now you're projecting what you want to believe onto the author.

That sounds an awful lot like solipsism, which to my mind directly contradicts the literary experience. Literature is a communication medium. It is a way for the author to immerse a reader in a piece of their own mind. Communication can fail at both ends of this and reveal the shortcomings of either party. An author can reveal more than intended just as a reader's own worldview can be challenged.

No, it's a repudiation of the idea that interpretation is the same thing as understanding. Attributing meanings and motives to an author based on your interpretation, and then treating those interpretations as a credible and factual thing, is just absurd; as if simply by coming to a conclusion about another person, you have gained a factual insight into that person's character. You might be right, you might be wrong, but to assume you know the parts of the author's mind that the author does not recognize him or herself, is not only arrogant, but a critical failure in the art of communication.


To me, this desire to insert meaning into an author's work, and then to attribute it to a failure on the author's part, or on her inability to overcome her own bias, reeks of fanaticism. It reeks of the desire to discredit and destroy for the sake upholding one's own beliefs above that of any other.


Amen. I had a college literature class that I had to suffer through because of this. The whole point was to apply different "theories" to interpret the author's work. Like feminist theory, queer theory, Marxist theory, etc., regardless of whether or not they were actually applicable to the subject matter. So essentially it was a class on how to look for things that just weren't there and try and make stories seem to be about things that they aren't.

Hey, we're doing that! I find it fascinating. If someone sees it, that means it's there at least for them.

Yeah and a pink elephant flies over the gas station down the street. Well not really, but it's there for me at least. [Insert Face-palm Meme]

Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: shadowkat678 on April 25, 2016, 03:22:15 PM
When you find a message in a work that the author didn't mean to put there, you're not wrong. You just discovered something about the way the authors mind works that he wasn't aware about himself.

No. Not so much. You've discovered something about yourself and your own biases, and now you're projecting what you want to believe onto the author.

That sounds an awful lot like solipsism, which to my mind directly contradicts the literary experience. Literature is a communication medium. It is a way for the author to immerse a reader in a piece of their own mind. Communication can fail at both ends of this and reveal the shortcomings of either party. An author can reveal more than intended just as a reader's own worldview can be challenged.

No, it's a repudiation of the idea that interpretation is the same thing as understanding. Attributing meanings and motives to an author based on your interpretation, and then treating those interpretations as a credible and factual thing, is just absurd; as if simply by coming to a conclusion about another person, you have gained a factual insight into that person's character. You might be right, you might be wrong, but to assume you know the parts of the author's mind that the author does not recognize him or herself, is not only arrogant, but a critical failure in the art of communication.


To me, this desire to insert meaning into an author's work, and then to attribute it to a failure on the author's part, or on her inability to overcome her own bias, reeks of fanaticism. It reeks of the desire to discredit and destroy for the sake upholding one's own beliefs above that of any other.


Amen. I had a college literature class that I had to suffer through because of this. The whole point was to apply different "theories" to interpret the author's work. Like feminist theory, queer theory, Marxist theory, etc., regardless of whether or not they were actually applicable to the subject matter. So essentially it was a class on how to look for things that just weren't there and try and make stories seem to be about things that they aren't.

Hey, we're doing that! I find it fascinating. If someone sees it, that means it's there at least for them.

Yeah and a pink elephant flies over the gas station down the street. Well not really, but it's there for me at least. [Insert Face-palm Meme]

I think the problem lies with the professors and if they try to force a interpretation on you. And we're fantasy writers, so that could be possible for us. :D
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: CryptofCthulhu on April 25, 2016, 03:22:28 PM
Amen. I had a college literature class that I had to suffer through because of this. The whole point was to apply different "theories" to interpret the author's work. Like feminist theory, queer theory, Marxist theory, etc., regardless of whether or not they were actually applicable to the subject matter. So essentially it was a class on how to look for things that just weren't there and try and make stories seem to be about things that they aren't.

Yeah, I was mostly thinking of academia in my response, haha. I remember one class in college, we read Death Comes for the Archbishop and it seemed that the answer to every analytical question one could muster came back to the professor saying, "Well remember, there's a good indication that Willa Cather was a closet lesbian."

"Why do you think she decided to write about a white bishop in the American Southwest?"

"Well remember, there's a good indication that Willa Cather was a closet lesbian."

It always amazed me that he could not only connect two unrelated points and always make it about her sexual orientation, but that he would do it while being completely uncertain on whether his claim toward her being gay was true. At some points, I think it was just an easy answer for him, rather than actually having to do some critical thinking.

And these people are actually paid to teach this crap. I enrolled in a class at college that was all about Hitchcock films. I was really excited until the first day when I realized that it was basically taking Hitchcock and filtering his work through a feminist lens. It was a long quarter to say the least. I mean there is making observations based on gender, and there is making observations based on gender that are so outlandish that you don't know how the person teaching the class can keep a straight face. I can entertain the former but not the later.

Never ceases to amaze how people can ruin culture by making it all about political ideology and not the craft itself.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: marshall_lamour on April 25, 2016, 07:33:46 PM


To this day I'm not so sure what Scorcese actually thinks of a man like the Wolf.

Not so coincidentally, "Taxi Driver" was very much a similar case. It was definitely more of a character study than either a moral repudiation or glorification of Travis Bickle--meaning it's essentially both.

This is reminiscent of what often happens in war films. While the creators are typically known to hold antiwar stances, the films have a proclivity to glorify the subject matter. I believe Anthony Swofford made this observation in his book, "Jarhead," noting how religiously warfighters internalize the themes of such films (Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, etc.) to very much the opposite effect as presumably intended. This is probably owed to the filmmaker's own empathy for the enthrallment of combat upon its participants. In such a case, I think it's clear that the intent is at odds with the message manifested, but they are both relevant to understanding the value of the work.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: Yora on April 25, 2016, 08:38:49 PM
My (German) history teacher said "There is no american anti-war movie".

It took me a long time to figure out whether Starship Trooper was genuine or satire. Now being older and having lived through recent history it's totally obvious, but back in the 90s I really wasn't sure if it's a braindead action movie or all one big joke.
Title: Re: How does the writer impact the story?
Post by: marshall_lamour on April 26, 2016, 12:29:32 AM
My (German) history teacher said "There is no american anti-war movie".

It took me a long time to figure out whether Starship Trooper was genuine or satire. Now being older and having lived through recent history it's totally obvious, but back in the 90s I really wasn't sure if it's a braindead action movie or all one big joke.
It was a pretty ham handed way to parody the source material though. Heinlein's vision was hardly dystopian, and Verhoeven really seized on a level of fascismo barely portrayed in the text. His failure to grasp the significance of the powered armor is reflected in his inability to grasp that of the social order of the Terran Federation--the two being alike in their necessity for human survival against the Bug and the latter doubly so for human survival in the aftermath of WWIII.

Verhoeven not only fails to convincingly parody Heinlein's militarism but also softens and makes light of the fascist potential of wartime politics. The resulting film works reasonably well as a standalone, campy, sci-fi action romp but does massive disservice to a novel which was far better thought out.

Edit:
It was almost like the filmmaker was embarrassed to be making the film and was scared to give any impression of taking the source material seriously or that he was somehow righteous in not doing so.