04 July 2011

Responsibilites of an Author

So, I am currently reading The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide because I am a huge dork who loves these behind-the-scenes things and what better way to pass an overnight shift. I mean, I have a boxed set of Tolkien's The Lost Tales, which I absolutely love. I've watched all the special features in all of the LOTR Extended Edition Boxed Sets. All of them. Love them to pieces. Anyway, back to what triggered this blog.

In the beginning, there is an in-depth interview of Stephanie Meyer conducted by  her friend and fellow author, Shannon Hale. As they are discussing Meyer's process and influences for Eclipse, they move into morals and messages that can be construed while reading a piece of fiction. They discuss the potential for walking away with a positive message/moral/impression and the potential for walking way with a negative one. Hale raises the question, "I'm always trying to figure out where the line is with author responsibility. What we write and then send out there is going to affect people's lives. But I have absolutely no control about how people will interpret what I write. If readers need to find a moral, or a lesson, in it, they teach it to themselves. And I don't think I can control what it is that the readers teach themselves. Do you think that reading does more for you than just provide entertainment?"   And the beginning of Meyer's answer is, "It does a lot for me - but I don't hold the writer responsible for what I get out of it."

The idea of author responsibility struck me, as it is not something that I've given a great deal of thought, to be honest. As a writer, I craft a story or a poem. I suppose, as a writer, that my inherent responsibility is to make it as authentic as possible, develop easy-to-relate-to characters, and hone the content as good as I am able to do so. But beyond that, what is my responsibility as an author? Does a story need to have a message? Maybe, maybe not. Sometimes it is just a story that needs telling and any message or impression or moral can be ascribed by the reader.

What do you think the responsibility of an author is as they are relating a story? What expectations do you have for your favorite authors?

1 comment:

  1. First and foremost, I think a work of fiction should be entertaining. You owe it to your readers to write a great story. If you write a series, keep writing until the end of the story. I recently found out why one of my favorite book series hadn't had a new release in a few years - the publisher didn't think it was making enough money (and this is a famous, established author, so really???) and didn't want to continue the story. The last book ended on a cliffhanger. I am very disappointed!