Friday, January 14, 2011

Pass the Torch

As a reader, I always conjure specific images in my head - of characters (hair color, shape of face, tone of voice) or setting (room size, atmosphere, etc). Sure, those images are based on the author's description of them, but in the end, those images end up being uniquely mine.

On the other side of that curtain, as a writer, I do my best to take the images in my head and transfer them to the page accurately, so that the reader will see what I see. But it's not that simple. I know that when I see something in my head, and describe it on paper, that the reader could quite possibly picture an entirely different image than I do. (It's All in Your Head)

And I'm okay with that. First of all, because it's impossible, with words alone, to transfer an image from someone's mind to another person's mind in its exact, original, intended state. And secondly, because that's the fun of writing--giving readers a broad platform and then letting them create their own specific detail in whatever way their minds want to offer it.

I'll go a step further -- how many times, as a reader, have you read a description of a character (short, brown hair, bright blue eyes, crooked smile) and deliberately decided it's not what you, as the reader picture for that character? Have you ever downright ignored an author's description, and just made up your own as you read? Pictured a physically-different character than the author has described? That's okay, too!

Because once a description leaves the writers' hands and enter the readers' hands, it's theirs. The readers'. They own it now--these characters, this story, these descriptions. And in the creativity of their unique minds, they get to picture what they desire.

What first sparked this blog entry was a quote I read yesterday:

Writing gives you the illusion of control, and then you realize it's just an illusion, that people are going to bring their own stuff into it. ~David Sedar

I think he's spot-on. We authors think we have all sorts of control over our story, over our readers. But really, when we give up the book and put it into the readers' hands, we're just passing the torch. Our torch then becomes their torch, to do with whatever they please...

1 comment:

  1. That quote is fantastic. I agree. The writer can have everything imagined about their story, but once it leaves their hand and gets into the readers, then it's up to the readers to create the story in their mind.