Seeing the Strings

I’ve been catching up on my sister-in-law Wendy’s fascinating ruminations on writing. She raised a point in one of her thoughtful postings that’s stuck with me all day. In this age of rampant blogging, where personal contact with your favorite author is only a mouse-click away, are we destroying the illusion behind our fiction? Are our readers getting to know us too well?

Wendy describes what it was like becoming a regular reader of an author’s blog… and then reading the author’s subsequent novels:

Through her blog, I found her to be charming, witty, and insightful. I returned again the next day. And the next. I lurked until eventually, I left a comment. She responded, she laughed out loud, she said we were kindred sprits.

Why hadn’t I done this before? It was nothing of what I feared. Her site became a daily stop for me. I found the voice of her blog to be separate and distinct from her author voice. I loved reading both.

Things, as they are apt to do, started to change.

In a recent release her heroine broke character with a rant that sounded a lot like the author’s ever increasing web rants. I thought I saw a flash of nylon fishing line. In her following release, the subtext I had previously loved was missing from her dialog. Well, I knew she rushed, too much to write with a deadline on screaming approach. Now, I’m certain—I saw the puppeteer’s hand.

I often wonder as I write this blog, and as I enjoy the blogs of other writers,  if there’s a danger that the people reading our books, or watching our TV shows, will find it increasingly difficult to suspend their disbelief, to become lost in the fictional worlds we create…. that our personalities will overwhelm our work and our audience  will, instead, only be hearing and seeing the writer behind the words. 

You tell me.

7 thoughts on “Seeing the Strings”

  1. Only if you become a sloppy writer.
    I enjoy catching the author’s car as the hero’s or the author’s opinion coming from one character as a line of dialog. As long as it’s not a rant.
    What your sister-in-law is describing is not too much of the author, but too little attention to detail. Poor writing. Anyone would notice it even if the author weren’t blogging.

  2. How to answer this: Well, there’s the writing, which is Art. Then there is the Writer, who is the Artist.
    Never confuse the two.
    I don’t see a writer’s blog being a problem when it comes to his career. If anything, a blog is a great way to discover new writing talent that you come to like, enjoy, and respect, and share with others. Which, in turn, can produce sales and royalties for the writer in question.

  3. Not on TV, because there’s so little room for personal expression. Though David E. Kelley seems to disagree. Or rather — when someone actually does express himself personally, its stands out like a sore thumb whether or not you’ve read his blog.
    In novels, well … I guess part of the idea of the blog is that you can vent there, so you don’t need to vent in character.
    And in non-fiction — my blog is where I practice my rants.

  4. I could see it in “Waking Nightmare,” but only in the most obvious ways. After all, when Dr. Sloan has a broken arm, it’s not a stretch to wonder how the author could write authoritatively about it. Or where the jokes about various tv series come from.
    But I read Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War” and you wouldn’t guess that he’s closer to a flaming Democrat than a flaming Republican. He even has a scene in which one of the soldiers is a former diplomat of the “we can reason with our enemies if we respect their folkways” types who dies in a most amusing way.

  5. Hi Lee,
    on your blog you wrote:
    >>I often wonder as I write this blog, and as I enjoy the blogs of other writers, if there’s a danger that the people reading our books, or watching our TV shows, will find it increasingly difficult to suspend their disbelief, to become lost in the fictional worlds we create…. that our personalities will overwhelm our work and our audience will, instead, only be hearing and seeing the writer behind the words.
    You tell me.<< Usually I read a book without thinking about the author at all. At the moment I am reading "Total Control" by David Baldacci (in English), and I have to admit that I don't know anything about Mr. Baldacci. And I certainly will not know more about him, after I finished the book. I enjoy the book, I like it, but I am not interested in knowing more about the author. It is the book that keeps my interest. It is absolutly different to read a book or watch a show of an author whom I know. Not that I know more authors - in fact I only know you as a writer. It is very nice to know more about the person who wrote e.g. my favourite show. In fact it is nice to discover, that it is a real person who is writing the shows and the books. The authors anonymity (is this word correct?) disappears. But that happens after reading, not in the moment when I am reading. Well, I hope you understand what I mean. Reading/watching is one thing, knowing about the author is an other thing. Reading your blog doesn't change my opinion about your books or your shows. It just provides me with information that make it more interesting to watch a show again, or to read a book once more, because through your blog I get a small insight of why you may have written things like you wrote them. It is the fact that you take the time to answer mails of your readers, that changes the way of how I read the books. Being able to write my opinion, or to talk about the books and shows, makes me read the books more carefully, makes me watch the shows with more attention. As far as I am concerned I don't think that blogs overwhelm a writers work. I think blogs are a wonderful extra, a kind of bonus for the reader/viewer. I still see Mark Sloan in front of my eyes while reading your DM books. And when I read "My Gun Has Bullets" I had the feeling of watching a great movie. While reading I don't have time to think about you. That sounds unfriendly, sorry, but it is not meant to be unfriendly. Bye, Ute

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