December 08, 2019, 03:19:34 PM

Author Topic: How does the writer impact the story?  (Read 7680 times)

Online Yora

Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #30 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.
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

Offline Peat

Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #31 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.
This is the blog of Peat - http://peatlong.blogspot.co.uk/

Online Yora

Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #32 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.
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

Offline CryptofCthulhu

Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #33 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.
“Silence is only frightening to people who are compulsively verbalizing.” ~ William S. Boroughs

Offline Justan Henner

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Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #34 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.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2016, 04:27:44 PM by Justan Henner »

Offline Lu Kudzoza

Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #35 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.

Online Yora

Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #36 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.
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

Offline Lu Kudzoza

Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #37 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.

Offline JRTroughton

Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #38 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.

Online Yora

Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #39 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?
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

Offline Peat

Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #40 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?
This is the blog of Peat - http://peatlong.blogspot.co.uk/

Offline Lu Kudzoza

Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #41 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). ;)

Offline JRTroughton

Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #42 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!

Online Yora

Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #43 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.
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

Offline shadowkat678

Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #44 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.
Be not a writer, but a Storyweaver. For that, my friend, is how you'll truly leave your mark.