Posts Tagged With: Devin Brown

Will Readers “Misunderstand” Your Book?

I wonder how much authors worry about how readers misunderstanding what their book is about. Its meanings, themes and intentions. Some authors might overcompensate by entering the story and explaining too much. This “author intrusion” often makes a character sound out of character or exposition sound like a lecture. Authors should realize not every reader is going to get, or like, everything you have written and that’s okay. A mature reader isn’t going throw down your book if he or she doesn’t agree with every sentence you write. They might do so if your book isn’t entertaining or is unreadable.

I mentioned in an earlier post on how modern readers like to reinterpret older books (in that case Dracula) through modern eyes. When an author is still living, or wrote about their books, it’s always best to default to their explanations. After all, they wrote the book. J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is brimming with themes and meaning, but it was no allegory. The author wrote:

There is no ‘symbolism’ or conscious allegory in my story…To ask if the Orcs ‘are’ communists is to me as sensible as asking if Communists are Orcs.

Devin Brown continues by asking, “Don’t they share a number of similarities? [along with Sauron/Hitler, etc.] Of course they do.” But he adds what Tolkien explained, “I think many confuse ‘applicability’ with ‘allegory.'”

Of course, “everyone knows” C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was an allegory. Everyone forgot to tell C.S. Lewis. He said he never intended to write an allegory, the story unfolded as it did. He also wrote:

As we know, almost anything can be read into any book if you are determined enough…[the author] will find reviewers, both favorable and hostile, reading into his stories all manner of allegories which he never intended. (Some of the allegories thus imposed on my own books have been so ingenious and interesting that I often wish I has thought of them myself.)

So focus on writing your story. Understand not everyone will like it or get all the wonderful things you are trying to get across. Nor should you attempt to appease everyone or your story will most likely end up not being very interesting. Make your tale organic and entertaining. Use the tools you have to improve your craft.

Because ultimately the mythos you create is yours and someone out there wants to enter it.

Categories: Books, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Need for Adventure

“Adventures?  Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things!” said Bilbo to Gandalf.  If he only knew. The scenes that follow — the arrival of the dwarves who take over his home — did not seem to be a favorite in the films, but was an essential part of the book.  In it we see much of ourselves.

Bilbo was set in his ways, in his little world. Didn’t want to be bothered, nor wanted any deviations from the norm. So imagine the disruption of this rowdy band taking up residence, uninvited. Think about about how people handle disruptions in their life. Poorly. Even good, life-changing ones. We don’t see what goes on around us. Neighbors in need. Corrupt governments.  If the snack bag is full, and the batteries are good in the remote, we’re a-okay.  Devin Brown writes in Hobbit Lessons, “We might also think of someone who can’t bear to be away from their laptop for more than a few minutes. Or someone for whom being out of cell phone range counts as a real hardship.”  Sad.

We see Bilbo’s change in his dwarf encounter. Brown writes that the hobbit senses “he is missing something” and decides to go on a “quest to live more fully” and ultimately becomes a critical part in the history of his world.

Are you going to challenge your status quo? How are you going to handle the next disruption?

Perhaps we all need a quest. An adventure.

hb2

Categories: Books, Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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