Thursday, April 12, 2012

Seeking Understanding

I heard a phrase today that really spoke to me. To paraphrase it: Readers seek understanding.

When I've taken one of my chapters, or stories, or poems to a critique group, I've found the most difficult part is when it seems that they don't 'understand' what I thought I said.

A hard experience it is to go back and read what I've written with an open mind and heart and see if they're correct. See if I have failed in making my reader understand what the scene is about, who the character really is, and why the plot is going or has gone in the direction it is.

I sometimes shudder at the thought. Yet, it is an awesome exercise in fulfilling the main tenet of why I'm writing: a story to be enjoyed, or learned from, or expand horizons. (Shees! Trying to find the spelling of tenet almost stopped me in my tracks!)

Hard work, but well worth it. I don't want to be preachy, heaven forbid, but I have learned to put aside my ego and how well I think I've done and re-read that story, look at it with a readers' eyes, and expound, change, and/or delete parts that confuse, misdirect, or hide bad writing. Don't I want a perfect story? Don't I want my readers to be engaged? Don't I want to have fun?

Life is scary.


  1. Being willing to look at one's story with eyes that might see something wrong with it is vital to producing a good story, as you say. It's hard for an author to become the reader in order to see what isn't being communicated properly, and even harder to change what needs changing, but it is oh, so important! After all, the story is only partly for us writers, but it is all for the readers.

  2. Hmmm. I'm still wondering if it's all for the readers. I know a lot of writers who never publish or post or anything. They write for the pure enjoyment of it. I don't think they even share it with family/friends.

    Of course, I'm of the other persuasion. I have to share it.