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Because when everyone is only nice, you wonder what could be improved, and sometimes when people come up with questions that point out weaknesses, that makes for interesting new ideas.  (Not that I don't like the nice comments. I roll around in those like a happy cat in catnip, like most people do. )

In practice though, when people make criticism, specially lengthy ones my reaction is less:  ooh, good point, and very often more : ... but... that idea you hate... I... don't think that's what I wrote?  Or at least, it wasn't what I meant to write...?

The weirdest thing about writing fiction is the things the readers make of what you wrote.

I didn't intend to write Elrond as uncritical of Maedhros and Maglor.  Or Elros, for that matter.  I intended them to present their opinions directly to Maedhros and Maglor, and to show concern and suspicion from Elrond's point of view, but never voice it to anyone else.

I didn't intend to write a Maglor who was an incompetent disaster that needed rescuing by Elrond, either.  Or malignant Valar, or Elwing, Indis and Ingwion as stupid or horrible....

Perhaps the writer is the only person who actually reads the story as they intended it to be, and everyone else makes their own story from the jigsaw pieces they present.

Maybe there's a lot of communication that is like one of those conversations in a loud place where neither of you can quite hear the other one so there's a lot of nodding and smiling and hoping you didn't just agree to anything too outrageous. 


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
29th Dec, 2018 02:17 (UTC)
Ah, the review where I was wondering, "Wait a minute, even granting your -- interesting interpretations, why on earth is a dragon fine but a witch past the pale?"
29th Dec, 2018 10:59 (UTC)
Heh! yes, the things that are Just Too Far are so very personal!
29th Dec, 2018 05:39 (UTC)
I think you'd get that effect even with original writing, sometimes.
But with fan fiction it can be especially strong because readers come to the table all primed with opinions, and not just on canon, but on fandom interpretations, too.
Is the criticism you cite a condensed summary of several comments over time? You sound as if you've just received a lengthy criticism from someone?
29th Dec, 2018 11:05 (UTC)
I'm sure you do: hence so very many readings of the original text. I suppose it's only recently that I've written enough stuff that I encounter it from the writers point of view, rather than the reader's!

Yes, this was an amalgam of comments: I forgot the 'victim-blaming Celebrimbor' one, too! But this wasn't really prompted by receiving an actual communication, I just happened on a review in a space I happened to be passing through. It was a few months old and not directed to me, but to another reader. It left me wondering why the person had gone on reading a fairly long work, and also different the story they read was from the one I thought I'd written! (I probably wouldn't have recognised it if they hadn't specified, bt of course you see your own name and immediately focus attention :-D .)
29th Dec, 2018 10:49 (UTC)
I did a very interesting FutureLearn course about Cognitive Poetics (https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/how-to-read-a-mind) which talked about readingandwriting, which, the theory is, is what people do when they read -- they supply all the bits that aren't explicitly described from their own knowledge and experience, so they're also 'writing' as they're reading.

Couple that with a bit of blockheadedness...

One thing about fanfiction is that, amongst all the variety, there is, I think, an underlying genre, which dwells on emotions and physical sensations, and spells them out in great detail, and is the absolute opposite of the sort of subtlety you're describing. Some readers can't see or interpret 'showing not telling'. (Or they think that 'showing' is just telling in great detail).

The reviews I really hate are when someone basically says, "I want you to throw this away and re-write the story how I want it written -- go and read X's story on the same subject, here."
29th Dec, 2018 11:13 (UTC)
Ooh, that does sound interesting. Perhaps I'll take that course at some point ( I keep meaning to do futurelearn things...)

I'm sure you are right that people fill in a lot of gaps, isn't that why coming back to a well-loved childhood book is often a strange experience..?

I've definitely learned from reader reactions that what seemed from a writing point of view like laying on the emotions and explanation with a trowel creates a better effect once you step back and look at it afterwards. Rather like painting, and using lots of paint and exaggerating contrast!

I don't think I've had one of those yet. Now I wonder who X will be when it does!
29th Dec, 2018 13:48 (UTC)
That sort of review is more self-revelatory than anything else, I would think; one reads in wondering astonishment at what the inside of their head must be like.
29th Dec, 2018 21:53 (UTC)
Perhaps the writer is the only person who actually reads the story as they intended it to be, and everyone else makes their own story from the jigsaw pieces they present.

One of my university professors said that not even the author owns the meaning of a work- and that everyone reads a different story even if they read the same book. :)

I've had comments which makes me so confused! It's very strange when someone interprets something you have written in ways you never intended!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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