This week in #storycraft, I asked the Storycrafters to discuss the reason June Casagrande gives us to learn our fundamentals, in It was the Best of Sentences, it was the Worst of Sentences, :
“If you want to master the art of the sentence, you must first accept a somewhat unpleasant truth – one a lot of writers would rather deny: The Reader is King. You are his servant. You serve the Reader information. You serve the Reader entertainment…Only by knowing your place can you do your job well….
Here’s another way to think of this: Your writing is not about you. It’s about the Reader. Even when it’s quite literally about you – in memoirs, personal essays, first-person accounts – it’s not about you…
When you forget the Reader, you get what I call writer-serving writing. It exists at every level of writing expertise. I’ve gagged on it when reading personal essays and caught whiffs of it in award-winning books and articles. I’ve been horrified to find it in my own writing. Writer-serving writing is perfectly appropriate in diaries and journals – but any writing that’s meant to be seen by a Reader must serve the Reader”
We discussed what we all thought of this theory, and whether it applied not just to the art of the sentence but to any other, or all of the elements of the art of crafting fiction. Most were in agreement, as long as writers weren’t going to the extreme of trying to pander to the reader or ‘cash in’ on trends – though we also agreed that few readers actually want either of those things, even when it seems it may be the case. I had expected for a few of the “F… the readers, it’s not art if you do it for anyone but yourself” gang (that’s an actual quote, though I won’t “credit” it,) but they must not have been around, this week, because they could not have resisted if they’d been lurking. Perhaps they were all off being avant garde having Mothers’ Day dinner at home.