& occasionally about other things, too...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Writer as God

The relationship between a reader and a writer is one of a guest and a host, and the book is like a house.

As a reader, I’m the guest. I need the host – the writer – to show me around her house. Draw my attention to the things that she wants me to see and in the manner in which she wants me to see them.

The host will introduce me to the people in her house – the characters – and tell me about them. While I’m there, I’ll get to know them better, and discover things about them that she didn’t tell me. And that will reveal her -- perhaps more than she’d want to show.

Often I’ll like these people, and they’ll be my pals forever. Some, I want to bed and wed (I’m still looking for East of Eden’s Cathy and will turn polygamous when I find her). And some, I’ll hate forever.

As a guest, I’m a demanding person. I expect special treatment. If I don’t get it, I’ll leave the house – sooner than the host wants me to.

I will also leave sooner when she ill-treats the people in her house. When she does that, I’m wound up. I realise my host is either not a nice person herself, or is not sure how to deal with one of the people in the house.

As she’s seemingly clueless, she indulges in acts of god that I can barely tolerate in God and cannot in a writer.

The reader doesn’t give the writer the right to play with her characters; as God does with human beings.

When a reader enters into a contract with the writer, she is seeking a commitment from the writer to help her escape into a different reality. That’s right – a different reality.

The writer has the responsibility of making her characters believable emotionally to the reader. When the writer makes the character act uncharacteristically, the reader is distressed.

It’s a breach of contract. The reader feels cheated.

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