jeffsoesbe (jeffsoesbe) wrote,

[writing] the story belongs to the reader

One of the interesting aspects of online publishing is that people are usually able to discuss a story in a public forum run by the publisher.

I'm still new to this whole writing thing, but the two places "Apologies All Around" has been published both have discussion forums (Flash Fiction Online, and Drabblecast). The discussions there about the story are really quite interesting. People find things in the story that I didn't even know were there, and yet I can see what they mean.

jaylake likes to say that once a story is published, it belongs to the reader. This is why I don't jump into the discussions. I see this as aspect of another concept I heard, which is that there's actually three stories: the story in the writer's head, the story on the paper, and the story in the reader's head. What I get a glimpse of in these discussions is the stories that are in the readers' heads, and it's quite fascinating. It's also a place that I don't own, and shouldn't try to own.

I've certainly had experiences along this line, where a critiquer has asked what's happening in a story and I say "this, that and the other thing" and the critiquer says "well, it's not on the page." The instinct is to "defend" the story, when instead I should be listening very carefully to why the critiquer/reader didn't get what I wanted.

Or, on the positive side, when someone seems to "get" a story, even though I know there are flaws with how it's written. At that time, I should try to understand how that happened.

I'm getting a useful education here in how stories are perceived. But I need to concentrate on getting the story that's in my head onto the paper. And I have something due Real Soon Now. I also might have some good news pretty soon. More to come.

And so, back to it!
Tags: apologies all around, writing

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