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Author Topic: How does the writer impact the story?  (Read 8722 times)

Offline Lu Kudzoza

Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #45 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.

Offline shadowkat678

Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #46 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.
Be not a writer, but a Storyweaver. For that, my friend, is how you'll truly leave your mark.

Offline Peat

Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #47 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
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Offline shadowkat678

Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #48 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?)
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Offline marshall_lamour

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Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #49 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.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2016, 11:58:38 PM by marshall_lamour »
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Offline Justan Henner

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Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #50 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?
« Last Edit: April 25, 2016, 01:03:34 AM by Justan Henner »

Offline marshall_lamour

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Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #51 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.

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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.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2016, 09:07:58 PM by marshall_lamour »
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Offline Justan Henner

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Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #52 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'.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2016, 03:58:51 AM by Justan Henner »

Offline Nora

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Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #53 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.
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Offline Yora

Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #54 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.
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Offline CryptofCthulhu

Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #55 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.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2016, 12:48:13 PM by CryptofCthulhu »
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Offline shadowkat678

Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #56 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.
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Offline Justan Henner

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Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #57 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.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2016, 02:39:31 PM by Justan Henner »

Offline CryptofCthulhu

Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #58 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]

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Offline shadowkat678

Re: How does the writer impact the story?
« Reply #59 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
Be not a writer, but a Storyweaver. For that, my friend, is how you'll truly leave your mark.