Monday, July 9, 2012

The biased reader

I sent the first few chapters of my manuscript for critique at the Critters Workshop and I have been very pleased with the comments I received so far. Up until this point, the only people who had read my novel were readers, not fellow crafters of pen and keyboard. The critiques I received this time addressed missing form more than missing facts, and not just of the grammar and misused word kind. They pointed out what I was saying well and what I was not saying enough, both of which were very helpful towards making the story more engaging.

One of the things I found very interesting as I read the critiques, was that for every vague sentence I wrote there were many interpretations that most often were in tangent to what I wanted to portray. And the meaning associated to these passages were mostly based on the reader's perceptions of their own society, not the story I was weaving.

The one instance I found most unexpected was that as soon as I mentioned a man and a woman having a child, the immediate assumption was that these two people were married. The society I created has no marriage, but I did not think I had to explain that in the opening pages. It did not seem essential to the story. However, by not making that clear, I set some readers in such a frame of mind that they resisted the actual story. They could not accept the focus on extreme individuality I thought I was describing.

What I learned from this experience was that I can create any society I want, but if I want others to understand it I need to be very precise on how I describe things -- while being frugal with words so as to not detract from the story. Quite the task...