In college, I remember dissecting stories for their deeper meanings. Comparing and contasting Shakespeare plays. Did he really mean for the fools to always be the wisest in the whole story?
I do think that a lot of what an author experiences in real life, from people, places, events, hurts, challenges, dreams and joys, finds their way into the pages of their stories. The fact is though that some of what a reader might see as a theme may have never crossed the mind of the writer.
I wrote a story and someone told me how cool my symbolism was with some of the physical aspects of the story to the emotional challenge of the character. I was impressed. “Sure, yeah. I meant to do that.”
In reality, it was unconscious. I had no clue I had written that way.
Part of communication isn’t only what the writer or speaker says, but how the reader or listener interprets those concepts or images. As much as the writers brings everything about themselves to their story, so to does the reader. For that reason alone, every story is going to have some people who love it. The tale resonates with something deep inside them. For others, it will be a miss and not enjoyable. It’s not the author’s fault or the reader’s either. It just is.
You might like chocolate ice cream and I prefer mint chocolate chip. It’s a preference and matter of taste.
So enjoy whatever story you are reading. Go ahead and ask yourself what the story’s theme and concepts are, but don’t do that with the idea of trying to really “get” at what the author was really saying. Do it for what the story revealed to you, about you. Your needs, met or unmet. Your dreams, passions, preferences.
Then find those authors who have a style that your relate best to. And enjoy the story and the journey it takes you on. When a story does not appeal though, don’t bash the author in reviews etc, without admitting it’s a personal preference. Unless there are serious issues with the story and research etc, there’s no need to belittle the hard work of an author because you don’t like their style or subject matter.
Nicholas Sparks is a great writer. I prersonally don’t like crying every time I pick up one of his books. Stephen King is also a phenomenal writer and in reading his bio/book on writing, I can see why he writes the subject matter he does. I don’t read those books because I don’t like that kind of thing.
When you do love a author, do them a favor and let them know. Give them a review on the bookseller sites (Amazon, Goodreads, B&N . . .) or even send them an email or letter or message on facebook. Unless you are a writer, you cannot have any idea of the hard work it takes to write, revise, edit, find a agent/publisher/editor and get that book to print. While making money is nice–face it, we all need it to live–writer’s need to know that you appreciated their hours, days, weeks, months and years of labor to bring that story to you. It can be a frustrating and fatiguing process and only those who really love it and are called to this can persevere. So a pat on the back can help. Especially if you like them and want them to write more stories for you to enjoy.
Thank an author today. Who are your favorites to read?