Sunday, June 03, 2007

What Does an Author Owe Readers?

I didn't answer this question on the panel. We spent too much time talking about Harry Potter and our reactions as readers to books. Ellen Kushner said writers owe readers the truth, which I guess is true.

I would say the writer owes readers -- and herself -- the best job she can do.

I tend to believe that the writer owes readers a work that will make their lives better, something they can use in dealing with life.

What do I get from the books I like? -- Hope, beauty, surprise, energy, a sense of possiblity, a belief that humans are worthwhile beings and that a humane society is worth working for.

The books I don't like bore me or discourage me or leave me with nothing I can take back to my real life.

I dislike books that tell me there is no hope and no alternative to what exists now.

I dislike wish fulfillment fantasies, because there is no way to take their "lessons" back to the real world. Everything would be better if I was 25 and beautiful and had super powers and a tall, manly lover who was king of the universe... Everything will be better after I slay the nameless, pointless evil that threatens my cute, rural kingdom...


Blogger Tallgeese said...

I have been thinking quite a bit about "closure" in novels since finishing China Mieville's "The Scar" about a week ago. He pulls off a beautiful ending, written as the end of a letter by the main character...who evolved over the course of the novel from being a profoundly unhappy person, to being, well, someone else.

8:52 PM  
Blogger Kelly McCullough said...

Very penetrating insights, Eleanor. Oh, and Laura's with Patric on unhappy endings. Actually so am I, so I don't mind the vetoes.

9:48 AM  
Blogger hhw said...

I was in the audience of the "What do Writers Owe Readers" panel, and I almost ran out of the room to tell my friends when you mentioned that you were working with Aqueduct Press on the sequel to Ring of Swords. It was the best news I heard at WisCon.

As for my expectations: I hope to someday read the book you wanted to write.

4:13 PM  

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