In Others’ Words: Writing … and Reading

 

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“The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.”
~ Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-), American author

 

I call myself a writer — an author even. But long before I morphed from a wish-I-may-wish-I-might wannabe writer to “the real deal,” I was a reader.

I had my favorite authors — and I still do. If I fell in love with a writer’s way with words, if a hero and heroine became almost flesh-and-blood real to me, I read every single book that author wrote. (I still do.)

Back then — when I was only a reader — I thought the author made the story come to life. Not me.

But now … now I understand the value of readers. How they, by reading my stories, breathe life into those “little black marks on wood pulp” and transform them into chapter one … and two … and three … all the way to happily ever after. Whenever a reader opens one of my books, my heroine embarks on her journey all over again. My hero has the chance to succeed — or fail — all over again.

In Your Words: Writer or reader — who brings a story to life?

 

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17 Comments

  1. terri tiffany
    August 8, 2012, 6:21 am   /  Reply

    I think it is a combination of both. I fall into a story as a reader that a great writer has written for me but it is also the way I read it from my own life experiences that bring it to life.

    • Beth Vogt
      August 8, 2012, 6:51 am   /  Reply

      Good point, Terri “T”, about how we read novels from our own life experiences — and how that helps bring it to life!

  2. August 8, 2012, 6:25 am   /  Reply

    LOVE this question! Absolutely both.

    So curious about your favorite author(s).
    ~ Wendy

    • Beth Vogt
      August 8, 2012, 6:58 am   /  Reply

      Ah, you are the Question Queen, Wendy! I love your Friday Questions on your blog.
      Favorite authors:
      Growing up I read a variety of authors, well, let’s say I read a variety of books. As a kid I didn’t necessarily keep track of my authors.
      I was a huge Georgette Heyer fan in high school — the creator of the Regency romance genre. And I fell in love with L.M. Montgomery and all things Anne Shirley and P.E. Island.
      Today some of my favorite, must-read authors are: Susan May Warren, Rachel Hauck, Denise Hunter, Jenny B. Jones. I also love Liz Curtis Higgs and Deborah Raney.
      Non-fiction: Max Lucado. Kay Arthur. Francis Chan. Oh, there are others … can’t think. It’s too early.

      • Jeanne
        August 8, 2012, 8:22 am   /  Reply

        I still love Anne! 🙂

  3. August 8, 2012, 7:10 am   /  Reply

    I never thought about readers that way. I like it. Thanks for showing me a new, better perspective.

    • Beth Vogt
      August 8, 2012, 8:15 am   /  Reply

      Well, you’ve certainly shown me new perspectives, Pat. Glad to return the favor!
      😉

  4. Jeanne
    August 8, 2012, 8:23 am   /  Reply

    Great post, Beth. I’ve read from the day I began deciphering letters and forming them into words in my mind. Now that I’m learning the craft of writing, I think I’d say the author creates the story and the reader brings it to life in his/her imagination.

  5. Loree Huebner
    August 8, 2012, 8:41 am   /  Reply

    I think it’s both. Can’t have one without the other.

  6. August 8, 2012, 8:53 am   /  Reply

    I think it’s a beautiful partnership–the writer and reader. The writer sees the vision of a lovely puzzle and designs it, then hands it off to the reader to enjoy and fit together! (I’m on a puzzle analogy kick on everything these days since my new hero is a puzzle freak! lol) But it works!

  7. August 8, 2012, 8:59 am   /  Reply

    Deep thoughts, Beth! But maybe good writing is like good art–it can be interpreted different ways, but it leaves a memorable impression. The author definitely has his/her own picture of what the story is, but there’s room for people to read their own visual/mental adaptations into it. Great post!

  8. August 8, 2012, 9:35 am   /  Reply

    As others are saying, I think it’s both as well. The writer has to tell a good story, or the writer has no incentive to keep reading. But a writer’s stories would be nothing without readers. They’d exist, but they’d just sit there in the universe, stagnant, nothing happening. No forward motion. A story is meant to be enjoyed by a reader, and so without them, what is a story good for?

  9. Ganise
    August 8, 2012, 9:56 am   /  Reply

    I like this…
    Who brings the story alive? Well, I’m thinking both writers and readers, since readers get to imagine the story as they are reading and even after they’ve read a good book. And the writer comes up originally with the idea. He or she gives it ‘life’.

  10. August 8, 2012, 10:30 am   /  Reply

    Cool post, Beth, and something I haven’t thought about much. I’ve thought about readers liking my story or liking my characters (or not, haha!), but I haven’t stopped to think about their role in actually bringing the story to life. So cool!

  11. August 8, 2012, 10:40 am   /  Reply

    I love this post, Beth! I really believe there’s a magic that occurs between an author and a reader, and that both are dependent upon each other in the creation of a story. It’s amazing when you really sit down and think about it that authors have the ability to imagine a scene and write it in such a way that they can then share their imaginations with thousands. Talk about a cool job!

  12. August 8, 2012, 1:59 pm   /  Reply

    I think it’s up to both the writer and reader to bring a story to life. The story must be shared and that’s something that can only occur with cooperation from both.

    Great post, Beth. Lots to think about. Write on!

  13. August 8, 2012, 2:44 pm   /  Reply

    I love how you stated that each time a reader opens your book, the heroine begins her journey all over again! When I was younger I used to watch the old versions of Little Women (with Kathryn Hepburn and June Allyson) and I’d hope and pray that THIS time Jo would marry Laurie. But, alas, it never happened. 🙂 The author crafts the book with well placed words, but each reader takes the story to a different place in their minds and hearts. I just spoke with some of my Beta Readers and I was intrigued at how differently they saw my setting. Both had wonderful things to say, but their take on the same words amazed me.

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