Artistic Detachment and Intimate Attachment: Managing Reader Expectations.

I sent some stories I have been working on to a few friends to read. I have been working on some really snarky stuff. Fantastic Science Fiction satire. Fantastic in the sense of Fantasy. REALLY out there. I was trying to be witty and biting… and cocky… and shocky…. Even crude at times. For effect. To manipulate the readers minds. That is the unabashed goal of Creative Writing.

Some of the responses were very… interesting….

Psychoanalysis… of the authors State of Mind…. Focusing on minute emotive details… and missing much of the humor almost completely….

Or… where am I in the story? And… if that friend is not obviously a character… how can I be so crass as not to include whomever…?

What happened? And… what can I learn? potentially to improve my writing….

If any aspiring author reads any manual on writing… fiction or otherwise… one of the first things they are warned is that they need to learn to put up a wall. To separate the author from the narrator. To write what you know… the more intimately the better… but… to disengage from the story…. Artistic detachment it critical.

But… readers… and especially friends… have a hard time separating their level of intimacy with the author from the work. So… when the writer writes what he knows well… and inserts meaningful… and recognizable… emotive pieces of his life… into his art… things get complicated… for the reader… who is a friend. They recognize the rag cut out of life and sew into the story-quilt. And… they wonder… is everything else in the story… just as real…. So… if you manage to make an intense emotional connection… manipulate the reader into suspending disbelief so radically and fully that they accept the story… as reality itself… even if the story includes characters who are aliens… or inanimate objects… or personified animals and plants and protozoa… then… you have truly reached an artistic pinnacle….

But… how do you deal with expectations of the reader? And… how can you learn? How can you improve your writing… if your friends cannot detach due to intimacy….

First… realize that they are expressing concern.

Second… congratulate yourself for a job well-done. You’ve just sucked in someone who knows you well. So… if your story fooled them, you’ve got an excellent chance of fooling others who know you far less well.

Third… learn to read between the lines. Try to figure out what really grabbed their hearts. Don’t take those elements out. Don’t dilute ’em. Expand ’em. Explode ’em! Reinforce those elements.

Fourth… don’t cave. Don’t write people in where they shouldn’t be. Allow the story to tell itself. Unless they’re will to pay. Then prostitute yourself to the hilt! JK…. My point is… from my perspective… I am currently writing a snarky satire. No one in their right mind wants to be a character… because I’m trash talking EVERYBODY…. Do my friends really want a piece of that? No. They want to control the release of information. And… I ain’t gonna do that. And… neither should you.

Final point…. Fiction… and Non-Fiction, too… is a cooperative Space Opera. The writer writes in his world… from his knowledge… his life experiences…. And the reader interacts with the world the writer created… bringing in her knowledge… her emotions… her experiences… her desires… and her expectations…. Writers MUST work to manipulate their readers emotions and expectations in order to be successful. That’s what we signed up for. To develop our craft…. To become Master Emotional Manipulators…. That’s what building the suspension bridge of disbelief is all about…. Managing readers expectations through manipulating life events. That’s what Marshall McLuhan meant when he said: “The medium IS the message.” Anything can and should be manipulated to obtain the desired effect. Whether that is telling the truth. Or producing propaganda in order to obfuscate truth and promote an otherwise unacceptable agenda. It’s really all the same. The only difference is intent.

I think that often Psychoanalysis of the Writer… may really be Self-analysis by the Reader… unpacking the emotions brought to memory through their interactions with the story…. The memories… the emotions… are actually being stirred up… in their own cup of coffee….

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One thought on “Artistic Detachment and Intimate Attachment: Managing Reader Expectations.

  1. Pingback: Artistic Detachment and Intimate Attachment: Managing Reader Expectations. | Wright-Wang Extreme Mystery, Inc.

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