OSC Answers Questions
How do you manage to draw my imagination in so well that any
problems, or stresses I may have at that moment in life go away? How do you
manage to keep me reading and not watching TV, or playing games or other things
I have done so often?
-- Submitted Anonymously
OSC REPLIES: - March 12, 2001
The reason a story works particularly well for a reader is not entirely
contained within the story -- nor does it come entirely from the author. If you felt
a particular affinity for a story of mine, it is at least partly because you yourself
were ready for that story, and even more because you were willing to open
yourself so thoroughly to the story that it was given the chance to move you.
When a writer creates a story, it is important to keep in mind that the written story
is only a tool, which the writer creates and gives (or sells!) to the reader so that the
reader can use it to create a living story in his or her own memory. It is the story
in the mind of the reader that matters. So in creating your own stories, you are
performing an act of communication -- it is not enough to think of stuff that you
care about and believe in, you must also present it in a way that will be clear,
believable, and interesting to the reader. But to which reader? Ah, there's the rub.
Because the story that intrigues one reader will utterly bore another; the story that
one reader believes, another will doubt. You can't please all at once. All you can
do is try to create as clear a written account as you can of the kind of story you and
your "ideal reader" will care about and believe in. And then hope that your ideal
reader actually exists -- and in enough numbers that it will be worth the expense
to someone of publishing it!
So I appreciate the fact that you have been one of those "ideal readers" for some of
my stories ... and I wish you well in creating stories that will reach out for your
own ideal readers in turn.