Wednesday, February 1, 2017

IWSG - Time to rock that boat

I haven't posted much, as I've been super, super, SUPER busy (don't I sound important?)  But of course, I knew I couldn't miss IWSG posting time.  So here I am, fulfilling my obligations and hoping some of you missed me while I was gone.  If you didn't, you could lie to me - it's the thought that counts.

This month's question asks how being a writer changed my (or our) experiences as a reader.  I'd like to think it makes me more understanding, but in fact, I think it's made me more critical.  I'm also less likely to argue with those who are critical of certain books.

To give an example, I was working with a student on an analytical paper.  The subject was the book "Pride and Prejudice."  The student, Tina, said, "I don't know why Wickham would have run off with Lydia.  It makes no sense to me."

Of course, you all know I love me some P&P, and I wasn't about to let her criticize it, but I did semi-politely ask her to explain.   "It says he wanted to marry a woman of fortune.  Unless he's a creepy pedo-perv who likes young girls, she has no money!  It's a bigger problem for him to run off with her, and he doesn't need any more problems.  The Bennets like him, so why would he want to ruin that?"

Honestly, I was stumped.  "Um, well, maybe Wickham is a pedo-perv.  He tried to run off with Georgiana, right?"

"Only because she had money.  I mean, he was trying to get that King girl to marry him too, even though she was not that hot because she had money.  She wasn't 15 or 16.  It doesn't fit with his character.  He's a guy who wants ready access to money, not having that access cut off by word getting around about his creepy behavior."s

I couldn't explain it because she was right.  Wickham didn't even seem to like Lydia that much earlier in the book.  "Maybe the author needed a way to show he was untrustworthy, and how bad Lydia's behavior was."

"But why this way?  Is that just a weakness in the writing?"

I think sometimes we do put in plot events that don't work for the characters, just to move the plot along.  That would make Tina correct - it's a weakness in the writing.  The writer is more interested in the story than being true to the characters.

Since then, I've seen lots of evidence of weakness in writing, in works of great literature, even (I'm looking at you, Great Gatsby!)  No book is perfect, and we all know how hard it is to try and write the perfect story.  Some criticism isn't unwarranted, even (and especially) from other writers.