Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Your contract with the author.

In a book I'm reading, the central character, a teenage girl, is dissatisfied with the abrupt ending of a book she was loving. She
said the author broke his contract with the reader.

Do you feel an author has a contract with his/her readers? Does he/she have completely autonomy in telling the story or is their an unwritten contract that certain obligations much be met?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

No I don't. It's the author's story and s/he can tell it anyway s/he wants to. If I don't like it I don't have to read it or another of the author's books but I don't think anyone has a right to tell somehow how to write his or her own book.


Jeff M.

George said...

I'm with Jeff. The author is in the driver's seat. But like Chekhov said, if there's a shotgun hanging on the wall, it better go off before the end of the play.

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - Interesting question. I don't think the author is obliged to the reader other than to create a solid story. That means creating strong characters, a solid plot and so on. And in that sense yes, the author is obliged. Otherwise...no.

Deb said...

I'd say an author has no obligation to provide the story the reader is expecting, but if an author is writing in a particular genre and then violates the conventions of the genre (and, thus, the readers' expectations), the author should not be surprised if readers are disappointed.

Dana King said...

I'm pretty much in agreement with Margot and Deb. Certain expectations, once established in the book, need to be accommodated. A hard-boiled novel set in 1950 LA can't introduce ray guns and shift to a science fiction story out of thin air after 100 pages. Within the universe the author creates, pretty much anything else is okay. As was said above, the author has no obligation ot write a story that progresses the way the reader wants it to.

Charles Gramlich said...

I think there is a kind of unwritten contract. As a reader, I don't mind the author breaking the implied contract if they do it well and leave me with a strong emotional response. But if they don't then it does bother me. I think the contract is stronger between genre writers and readers than among the literary types

Richard said...

No contract, as Jeff, and the others said. UNLESS, the book is genre and specific to a series or type. A spy novel shouldn't have magic in it, unless it's made clear it's a fantasy. A Nancy Drew novel better have a happy ending. And every book, or short story, needs to have an ending, not just stop.

Joe Barone said...

Authors don't have an obligation to meet my expectations. If I want my own writing to turn into nothing, the first thing I will do is try to write what I think the reader wants to read. The best writing reflects the individuality of the author. Some authors may express themselves more effectively than others, but, as I see it, the only thing an author has to offer is what is unique to him or her.

Al Tucher said...

I'm thinking back to encountering BRIDESHEAD REVISITED as a senior in high school. I knew nothing about Waugh, or I would have known what to expect. This stone atheist came to the end of the book, groaned out loud, and threw the book across the room.

But that was my problem, not the author's.

Erik Donald France said...

Nothing must be met but death and taxes, usually in reverse order.