May 21, 2006

For Whom Shall I Write?

Posted in literature, novelists at 3:51 am by Jerry

The ultimate problem in the rhetoric of fiction is, then, that of deciding for whom the author should write. We saw earlier that to answer, "He writes for himself," makes sense only if we assume that the self he writes for is a kind of public self, subject to the limitations that other men are subject to when they come to his books. (396)

Just finished reading Rhetoric of Fiction by Wayne C. Booth. I mentioned two posts ago that Booth reminded me of my concern about how reliable the narrator should be. But ultimately, I'm left with the subject in the above quote.

When I tell others that I'm trying to write a novel, there are the odd times that the question is asked. "Who is your audience?" or "Who's gonna read your books?" or "Who are you writing for?" I've given rough answers to these questions, but I suppose my current response would be, "First and foremost, I've been writing for myself. But eventually I want to discover who would appreciate not be able to stop reading what I've created, even if they hated it. Then, with them in mind, I'll try to finish the novel while intentionally trying to communicate to them, on some level, with what I've written."

I don't know how I'm going to discover these readers of my novel. Maybe it's a matter of trial and error. Who knows? My curiosity is growing, though. And if I were to guess, I'd say they will be a small group of individuals, not necessarily familiar with each other. Why? I have no idea. Call it a hunch.



  1. litlove said,

    I’m really interested to hear you’re trying to write a book. I am too, but it’s an academic book about books, rather than the real thing. However, I do think you should write as if you were telling a specific person about something that really intrigued you. I never think it can hurt to write as if you were seducing someone with just the richest, wittiest, truest of tales. If you try to write for lots of people at once then I think you risk losing your focus. Well, what do I know, but it’s just a thought.

  2. Jerry said,

    Just a thought? I love it. I really appreciate what you had to say, litlove. You’ve given me food for thought. You’ve also got me curious about your book. Care to share a little more about it?

  3. saskboy said,

    Sorry for going offtopic, but I’m just writing to let you know you’re invited to an outdoor get-together for Sask Bloggers on Saturday July 22nd in Regina. If you would like more information, visit Saskboy or Stephen
    Glauser and let us know if you can attend.



  4. litlove said,

    This is late in the day – have only just caught up with your comment, but very happy indeed to share. I’m writing about the way that fantasy and dreams get used in twentieth century French fiction. There have been some important literary movements like the Surrealists, for example, who were fascinated by the unconscious mind, and more recently it’s been a big trend to rewrite myths, legends and fairy tales. In previous times, the supernatural has been used to indicate cultural instability, governments falling, revolution, events that lead to a general feeling of unease and the belief that reason is not, perhaps, in charge of the world. I’m just beginning the research – that’s what the blog is supposed to be about really, the researching and writing of the book, although I often digress! I look forward very much to hearing more about your project too. Bonne continuation, as the French say!

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