Monday, November 1, 2010

Assume Your Readers Are Idiots

Just don't let them find out, and don't tell 'em, jeez. Still, it's a safe bet.

Assume your readers are idiots just like you, and don't confuse them by making getting some complicated deep symbolism a prerequisite for understanding your plot. If you want to write High Concept, write literary fiction. Since you're reading the blog of a person who's trying to make a living writing based on a steadily increasing number of people buying what he's written rather than hoping that the New York Times posthumously reviews the one book he wrote in ten years, you're probably not into that.

Still don't believe that Readers are Idiots? Do you realize that Huck Finn is amongst the most challenged books, because it's "racist"? Even the people who actually read books before they challenge them are lucky if they figure out that Huck deciding to lie was a good thing. Still, Mr. Twain put in a lot of other stuff in there so they could just read it for picaresque fun without delving into the three-level morality tale going on. Yes, that's my theory for the part at the end with Tom Sawyer, even if it's part of the second level of that morality tale.

Think about any book you've casually read and write down the plot points and themes you can remember, then critically read it and see what happens.Yes, you too will probably find that you are an Idiot. And that's OK.

Taking off from that, you want to layer the plot to catch as many readers as possible, with extra Art points if you layer the simple plots on top of each other such that the reader who gets all of them bakes a complex plot cake. Just make sure the ingredients all taste better separately, on the assumption that most of your readers don't know how to cook.

No readers were harmed in the writing of this post.


In Petre the Jawa's defense, he couldn't have known that some of the Emperor's finest hang out at the library when they're skipping marksmanship training. He nearly got out of the stacks alive. These Imperial stormtroopers weren't that precise.

Almost makes you feel bad that he was played by a child actor. Almost.

250 words? Yes
Short Story "Cosmast Rhyt"
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Reading - ?



  1. Hehe. I always assume if I wouldn't get it, my readers won't either :)

    Btw, would you mind fixing the link to my blog to name me as Annie Bellet? That's the name most people will find my fiction under, so let's not confuse them too much ;)


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