Tuesday, February 21, 2017
The Author's and Reader's Interpretation of Works
*I was writing this for college and thought it would be interesting to share with you.
When an author writes his or her work in a certain way, they intend it to have a particular meaning and message, however, there are people who will take that meaning in a different direction or not see the original intention at all. This will happen with some works and the reason for the misunderstanding could be on the author’s part with the work not being clear enough, the work being too ambiguous, or the readers are at fault in some scenarios. They could be thinking about something else while reading the work or they could’ve missed certain plot details that were obvious to other readers. It true that the author’s work should be criticized by its readers, but it is also true that the author should have his or her own say as to what the story was originally written for and its purpose.
Speaking as a fellow author, I think that the author should be able to say what their work is about then the readers will be allowed to criticize and give their own interpretation as without the author, the work wouldn’t exist. The work of an author or writer of any medium shouldn’t have their work completely taken over by others because they don’t agree with what their work means and says. That’s like saying a car maker doesn’t make the right kind of car because a customer is somewhat more knowledgeable on it. Now this can be true in certain scenarios like where the reader is also an author or the readers are more educated in storytelling than the author, but there are few scenarios where the readers are better at interpreting the work of the author than the author themselves. To conclude this point, the author has to have a say in what their work means, otherwise there is no point in writing if you’re going to let everyone play with it to the point where the author’s work will mean everything but nothing at all.
On the other hand, the readers should have their say in the author’s work. An author can say that their work is great and without fault if they are not criticized by others. Readers and their interpretations of the author’s work can bring attention to it that it might not otherwise get if the author’s work only had one bland interpretation. The audience can give self-published authors attention so their indie work can make it into the mainstream and give other indie publishers hope. There is, however, the scenario where they give attention to a work and make it overrated like Fifty Shades of Grey. Whatever scenario, the readers and their interpretation is one of the most important parts of any medium which require an audience as writers and makers need an audience to continue to exist.
Going back to the author’s point of view, one of an author’s greatest fears, is that their interpretation, stories, and works will get torn to shreds by the masses and their original intention will be lost forever. This is the terrifying strength of the audience as the people can overpower one author will pure numbers. The only hope the author has is an audience of their own whether it’d be fellow authors or a dedicated audience. Power of interpretation varies between different stories, authors, and audiences so whether or not the audience knows better or if the author knows better is as different as the stories authors tell with varying genres and morals being told.
This whole argument of the author’s interpretation of their own work and the readers say in it says a whole lot about the potential for all people to be storytellers. They see a story in a certain light and communicate it to others in that way. Some think they’ve discovered a hidden meaning in a story that the author themselves couldn’t see and other think they’ve found their own story in another’s which inspires them to write stories of their own. People like telling stories and making up their own. It gives them a sense of power and creation that their normal lives, if they aren’t creators, can’t give them. This is why so many people become storytellers, video game designers, and movie makers. A lot of people start writing this way with some even becoming press reviewers or consumer reviews that can be found on YouTube and other review sites.
Combining the author’s interpretation argument and what was just previously mentioned, there are hundred, thousands, maybe even millions of stories that are inspired by others. There are stories that take other parts of stories to make their own version of a story that the author would like to be told. I myself am guilty of this as I take tons and tons of plot themes and mechanics from other series and change them up without many completely original ideas and few authors can make a career on completely original work. Making up work from the ground up with nothing to work with is almost impossible so people will use their experiences and interpretations of other stories by different people to build their own story. People will take different story elements from varying genres, mediums of entertainment, and life experiences to make unique and interesting stories that could even be called original since some great combinations have the comparable combination of cake and ketchup. This may seem bad but in execution, a creator of any work can make a bad idea into a great work of entertainment and intellectual debate that people can get behind.
All in all, authors should be able to do what they want to with their story with readers to both criticize and support the author who will in some cases become writers themselves. The work of the author belongs to the author and the interpretation of their work belongs to the reader. Both work together to create experiences from works of the author to hopefully make something worthwhile and timeless that satisfies both sides.
at 7:33 AM