[DWJ] authors' thoughts on knowing

Gili Bar-Hillel gbhillel at netvision.net.il
Tue Oct 9 09:17:33 EDT 2007

not knowing can be frustrating, and an author being coy with the readers can
be a turn-off; I particularly hate it when authors are directing their plot
in a very predictable direction, but writing characters who are constantly
suprised by the predictable things that happen to them. Or, when the entire
plot stalls because the characters need not to be able to know how the
mysteries will resolve, so nothing can happen for a while ("Harry Potter and
the Deathly Hallows" comes to mind).  I do agree though, that part of DWJ's
genius is how unpredictable she is, even while things are constantly
happening and evolving. "Archer's Goon" is one of her best books in this
respect: we understand the dynamics between the characters and get to see
them doing lots of different things as they attempt to solve their
mysteries, and yet every new development seems to come totally out of left
field, up until almost the very end.

-----Original Message-----
From: dwj-bounces at suberic.net [mailto:dwj-bounces at suberic.net]On Behalf Of
Meyers, Katherine
Sent: Tuesday, October 09, 2007 7:17 AM
To: Diana Wynne Jones discussion
Subject: [DWJ] authors' thoughts on knowing

Last week I heard Kelly Link and M.T. Anderson read from their work and
answer questions, and they said some fascinating things, which I wish I
could remember better so I could share.  But one thing I remember them
saying was about how some readers like having knowledge in a book and some
like not knowing-- so a mystery might be most interesting when it's not
solved, because you might like not knowing, or the Blair Witch Project is
interesting the first time you watch it because you don't know what will
happen.  They seemed to connect this with the fantasy genre and why they
like it, saying that it can made the familiar seem unfamiliar, so that you
know less.  Of course they were much more articulate and said much more, but
it made me think about why I love Hexwood so much, and DWJ.  I enjoy Hexwood
partly because I know so little idea about what's going on.  The thing is,
normally this might annoy me.  I think it makes it easier that the
characters have such little idea about what's going on, too, and we figure
it out together.  I guess I am a reader who likes knowing things as well,
because I think that a reason I like DWJ is that the endings have closure,
that I know enough about what happened to the characters not to go crazy,
though I can still imagine what happens next.  Any thoughts?

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