If I’ve never said it before, I’ll say it now: I love hearing from readers! I love hearing what they like about my novels, what they don’t like, and especially discussing the various aspects of the stories and characters, the complexities, the nuances.
Of course, I always have to be careful with my responses, because there is so much I’m setting up in the early novels that won’t really be explained fully or come to be important until later novels. I don’t want to spoil the long-term story for anyone!
What’s been really cool and interesting to see is how different people interpret different aspects of a story. In fact, parts of the stories that I thought I’d written very clearly as meaning one thing, they interpret as meaning something else entirely.
Does this mean I failed to write clearly? Does this mean I failed as a writer?
Nope. In fact, I think it’s really cool! In fact the only aspect I worry about is disappointing those readers in later novels when it is revealed that what they thought was really going on, isn’t actually going on.
One example I’ve already discussed in an earlier blog, about the difference between how the necromancers raise the dead in book 2 versus how the Staff of Aliz resurrects someone. Of all of the reactions I expected from readers for Burning Skies, that was not one of them.
More recently, another reader talked to me about Dark Magic in the Sword of Dragons Universe, and how some characters seem to exhibit the use of Dark Magic before anyone else.
I’m hesitant to discuss it too much here (spoilers,) but suffice it to say that no one actually uses Dark Magic until the 2nd half of Burning Skies.
So why have readers interpreted something in a completely different way than I intended? Again, it’s not because I failed as a writer, but rather because everyone, including myself, come to the table with different personal biases. Every individual pays attentions to different details, sometimes in different ways.
The readers who have talked in detail with me about my novels aren’t citing broad examples in the novels, they are giving very specific examples, sometimes a single word, as evidence that their theory is true. Words that I didn’t think were important when I wrote them, and that other readers either don’t think is important, or interpret differently due to their own personal biases.
For instance, associating color with certain types of magic. Or because how Cardin senses the presence or absence of a presence in a character in book 2 compared to how he felt in book 1.
Which brings up another thought that literally just occurred to me as I write this blog: while we as people bring our own biases to a story, so too do the characters. The example I just gave, about how Cardin senses a presence, that changes between book 1 and book 2, because of how his powers have changed so drastically. Therefore how he interprets what he feels in book 2 does not have the same underlying meaning as it does in book 1.
It’s an evolution, for the characters, for the readers, and for me. I think I wrote a blog about it before, about how when I release a novel ‘into the wild,’ potentially hundreds of different Universes are all created, as each reader sees and interprets the stories in their own way, and picture them in their head in their own unique way.
This is both exciting and terrifying! Terrifying because how could I possibly remain true to every single reader’s interpretation of my world, without disappointing someone?
The truth is, I can’t. And I think that’s something every writer out there should realize: if you try to cater to every single person’s view as you write your stories, you’ll go nuts. It’s impossible. So do what you know best: remain true to your story, and enjoy hearing how everyone interprets it. Stick to your vision.
Thanks for reading, everyone! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!