Thursday, July 18, 2013

Lolita: Writing for Your Readers

As I think about writing or myself as a writer/author, I become more aware that I should give back to readers something for the time they invest to read my work. I place more effort into how I tie my words together. I read works by authors who knew/know how to write good stories to aid my writing development. I think about writing for my readers.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, for example, is a frighteningly repulsive story about an older man, the protagonist Humbert Humbert, who preys on a naive child he perceives as a “nymphet.” Lolita has a plot that includes pedophilia and murder. Though I feel a sense of guilt and shame because I could be perceived as encouraging such actions, I must admit that I love the writing because Nabokov spins a tale so powerfully appealing with suspense, pathos, puns—countless literary devices that the reader forgets that the protagonist is a beast.

Nabokov writes for the reader.  He clearly expresses that throughout the book each time Humbert directs or speaks to the reader. Below are some examples from Lolita.
·       "Now, in perusing what follows, the reader should bear in mind…"
·     "The reader must know now…"
·     "[The reader must]  accompany us West..."
·    "Oh, do not scowl at me reader..."
·        "Reader must understand…."
He steals readers' attention with breathtaking scenes for readers to feel, touch, taste, smell, and see.

Nabokov escorts readers into a paradise of beautiful prose that keeps them turning the pages. He makes the readers enjoy the novel despite the actions of Humbert. Nabokov gives the reader an investment for their time and more.

Good writing takes time to develop, and writing for your readers is a skill. You should think of yourself as one of your readers while writing. Among other things, think about what readers would want to happen, how you think your readers would want to solve a conflict, and if readers think the story is believable. Write for your readers, not only for yourself.

33 comments:

  1. You are so right. Just because you love the story doesn't mean your reader will. The reader is a major ingredient to remember when writing a book.

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    1. Sheena, I love what you said. "The reader is a major ingredient." It's like the missing spice in a cake recipe that you must not forget to include in the batter.

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  2. So, you mean to tell me that this whole writing thing is not about me?

    Seriously, though, you are right. It's about delivering what we promised on the back blurb of that book. And that, my friend, takes time. :)

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    1. LOL, Linda. It's not about me either. We're the messengers.

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  3. Yep, if you want sales that is what you have to do. As for blogs though, they are a bit different. You have to write for yourself and enjoy it, if you enjoy it they will come.

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    1. You're right about blogs, Pat. That's why I write about whatever I'm thinking about here. This topic was accidental. I was writing about another topic and the writing morphed into this. I'll post the other half next time.

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  4. "..think of yourself as one of your readers while writing." I like this bit of advice, something I need to practice more (-:

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  5. Great advice. If you enjoy your writing, readers will enjoy it. :)

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  6. I agree! I think that when we write from the reader's perspective it makes us write more authentically. I think we write what we want to read, and no writer wants to read something that feels stifled and fake!

    Good point.!

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    1. I like what you said about writing feeling "stifled and fake."

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  7. Nabokov was a great stylist. Lolita is an amazing book. I'm appalled that some people think it's erotic. It's very clear that Humbert Humbert is disgusting, and Lolita is miserable with him.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Janie, you've read them all. I do not get anything "erotic," from reading it. Maybe it's because I focus too much on his writing style.

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  8. Hi Peaches! I think that the book I love most got that skill: writing for readers. I love reading and I am better to read than write honestly, what I always admire from an author is the ability to captivate the reader. I am sure also you have this skill, I'd love to read your book in fact:) Btw, you know that I didnt read that book, from what you say it is worth. Kisses and happy weekend! xo

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    1. Lilli, I'll have to send you a copy of my book. I like your loyalty and your fashion sense, of course.

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  9. Good advice. We can't forget that we're writing for our readers. Putting ourselves in their place is a great way to help ensure that we are writing for them and not just ourselves.

    Have a great weekend!

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  10. Nabokov sounds like an excellent writer.

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    1. I know you'll like him -- I guess his writing, even though he's dead.

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  11. Sounds like quite a gritty but yet compelling book; I haven't ever read it. I agree about thinking about the reader--what would they expect or want? What do they find realistic? But then again, sometimes I like to surprise the reader, and try to twist the story to give them something totally UNexpected. :)

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    1. Carol, I totally agree with twists so that the story is not predictable.

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  12. Because you were a victim of child abuse, I certainly trust your opinion of Nabokav's "Lolita." Creative writing combined with a compelling story makes for a good book.

    Your last paragraph sums of this post very well! Excellent advice.

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    1. Anita, writing has healed me. I can see things for what they are and accept them, but the most important thing is to know when a piece of writing is exploitative. Nabokov allows his protagonist to admit his wrongs. That's important.

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  13. Interesting...perhaps I need to think more about my readers...whoever they might be.

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    1. I think your humor will keep them happy.

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  14. HI peaches...........
    an informative piece of reading. i dream of becoming a writer one day .i do not know if that would come true and i have not thought of it seriously but it is there in some part of my heart . i learn a lot from you...a writer whom i know:)
    love
    haritha

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    1. Haritha, you are a writer. When you blog, you write so beautifully. You write from your soul. Writing a book is just another form of writing and I can't wait to read your book.

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  16. Hi, Peaches, I read Lolita, too. Yes, H.H. is such a repulsive character, indeed, but you are right about the writing. It manages to make H.H. so wretchedly poignant even while creepy, and then traces the downward spiral of such a relationship in a such a way that I could not put down the book. Afterward, had to keep thinking about all the characters and the impact they had on each other. That's pretty powerful writing!

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    1. Thanks for sharing your perspective. "...powerful writing."

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  17. Hello again, and thanks for stopping by my Victorian Scribbles blog and following. Have a nice day.

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