Saturday, August 3, 2013

Orson Scott Card on Writing (Four Quotes)



“I learned to separate the story from the writing, probably the most important thing that any storyteller has to learn—that there are a thousand right ways to tell a story, and ten million wrong ones, and you’re a lot more likely to find one of the latter than the former your first time through the tale.”

“I have a master’s degree in literature, and in writing Ender’s Game I deliberately avoided all the little literary games and gimmicks that make ‘fine’ writing so impenetrable to the general audience. All the layers of meaning are there to be decoded, if you like to play the game of literary criticism—but if you don’t care to play that game, that’s fine with me. I designed Ender’s Game to be as clear and accessible as any story of mine could possibly be. My goal was that the reader wouldn’t have to be trained in literature or even in science fiction to receive the tale in its simplest, purest form. And, since a great many writers and critics have based their entire careers on the premise that anything that the general public can understand without mediation is worthless drivel, it is not surprising that they found my little novel to be despicable. If everybody came to agree that stories should be told this clearly, the professors of literature would be out of a job, and the writers of obscure, encoded fiction would be, not honored, but pitied for their impenetrability.”

“Why else do we read fiction, anyway? Not to be impressed by somebody’s dazzling language—or at least I hope that’s not our reason. I think that most of us, anyway, read these stories that we know are not ‘true’ because we’re hungry for another kind of truth: The mythic truth about human nature in general, the particular truth about those life-communities that define our own identity, and the most specific truth of all: our own self-story. Fiction, because it is not about somebody who actually lived in the real world, always has the possibility of being about ourself.”

“This is the essence of the transaction between storyteller and audience. The ‘true’ story is not the one that exists in my mind; it is certainly not the written words on the bound paper that you hold in your hands. The story in my mind is nothing but a hope; the text of the story is the tool I created in order to try to make that hope a reality. The story itself, the true story, is the one that the audience members create in their minds, guided and shaped by my text, but then transformed, elucidated, expanded, edited, and clarified by their own experience, their own desires, their own hopes and fears.”

(from the introduction to Ender's Game, 2010 Kindle edition)

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