On the Obligations of the Reader

I enjoyed this thoughtful post from Nina Zumel (@MultoGhost) about that tricky dance writers and readers engage in. When does hand holding go too far? What to leave unwritten?

Multo (Ghost)

Adapted from some ramblings of mine on Twitter.

I recently came across the essay “Let Me Tell You,” by author Cecilia Tan. It’s a response to the old writing dictum “show, don’t tell,” and in the process of arguing against it (specifically in the SF/Fantasy genres), the essay also takes a shot at the myth of “universality” that underlies the dictums of writing “quality” (read: literary) fiction.

I highly recommend the essay to you. But in addition to what it says to writers/readers of SF/Fantasy, it crystallized some other thoughts of my own – a reader, not a writer, and not generally an SF/Fantasy reader either – about the obligations of the reader.

NewImage

Clumsy exposition (“as you know…”) is one of my pet peeves. And I’ve noticed that I sometimes prefer reading works from an X writer to those of an X-American or otherwise hyphenated writer (X-British…

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About Deb Atwood

I am a writer, editor, tutor interested in literary and women's fiction, ghost stories and all things Korean.
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