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His - and your - Dark Materials
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lil_shepherd
I am a great fan of Philip Pullman - even more so after reading his Q&A session over at the Beeb website.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/arts_and_culture/7774176.stm

In particular, Mr Pullman explains perfectly why, once any writing is published, the author has no control over its interpretation - and why personal interpretation is entirely different from proper lit crit. This is 100% my view, but he expresses it very simply, and, I think, inarguably.

Once a book is in your hands, ITS INTERPRETATION BELONGS TO YOU. You can read it in any way you like, and take away any meaning that makes sense to you. That's the great freedom of reading.

Of course, if you want to persuade someone else that your reading is a good one, you have to do the usual literary-critical things like finding evidence in the text, like looking for patterns of imagery or influence that support what you claim the book is saying, and so on. But the idea that the author is sternly watching every single reader to make sure that they're reading in the RIGHT WAY belongs to some nightmare of authoritarian mind-control.


Thanks, Philip.

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That made very good reading. Thanks for posting.

I too like Pullman, and loved his comments about how he writes. I'm lousy at advance planning, and often have no idea at all where I'm going with a series until the words hit the page. Reading comments like his are a good reminder that there are no right and wrong methods. Just what works for you.

And he always comes over as a nice guy.

Shame they aren't making the others into films. I rather liked Daniel Craig as Lord Asriel.

Having written stories from back to front and from the middle out, stories with half a dozen strands where each was written separately and having started from a simple idea and ended writing in chronological order, with only a vague idea of the end (and with 400,000 words in that one) I can only echo - use what works.

I liked Daniel Craig as Asriel as well. I thought the movie well cast, but not very well written, though I understand the screenwriter/producer leaked his original script (before the suits got to it) and general opinion was that it was miles better than what was filmed.

I tend to write in a fairly linear fashion, but just with bugger all advance planning. It's been interesting co-authoring stuff with Munchkinofdoom, as between us we can story-board something out in a way that I just can't do on my own. But when my bits of the writing start it's still a case of "ooh help what happens next?"

That's half the fun. All you really need is the basic background and an idea of what's going on and various things you want to happen, then you just follow the characters as they blunder along.

I sometimes find particular scenes demand to be written and the rest follows on from there. Fanfic is great, because you start with a ready-made world to play in, which makes for far less flailing about when the characters doing things you hadn't expected.

Having written stories from back to front and from the middle out, stories with half a dozen strands where each was written separately and having started from a simple idea and ended writing in chronological order, with only a vague idea of the end (and with 400,000 words in that one) I can only echo - use what works.

I plan a little bit, depending on what kind of story it is, but what I tend to do more of is background stuff. Maps and plans are my weakness, I love creating houseplans and maps of the area/country/world I'm writing about. Consequently a great deal of my work is unfinished :-)

I usually work from rough outlines. I know vaguely what I want to happen and why, and then just see where they lead me. Otherwise known as 'making it up as I go along'.

Though I didn't participate, I hung out at the NaNoWriMo website last month, and read some of the writing tips. I can see the advantage of more detailed planning if you want to hit a specific target of words per day in order to write a novel/story of 50,000 words plus, and you know what you want the story to be, and especially if you're not used to writing much. But I don't think that particular approach would suit me. It is more disciplined, though.

I think Colin Dexter's advice is quite good, too - he says that even if you only write one page every day, by the end of a year you'll have a pretty sizable novel, and it's best to write something. It can always be improved on later. There's a lot of that attitude in NaNoWriMo, too. Write something, rather than sit starting at the page or the screen until the perfect words come, and the more you practice, the easier it tends to be.

I'm tempted to go in for the June WriMo just to see what happens.

Thanks for this link. You've given me an idea for a blog next week on my 'official' (non-LJ) blog. There was a spat on a crime fic list sometime ago when a few authors took exception to the fact that readers might have the nerve to skip the prologue, or take a peek at the last page. And the fact that other readers might have interpretations beyond What The Author Intended To Say was simply beyond the pale for them.

Link when you write it, please and thank you.

I'm a bugger for reading the end first. I hate surprises. Comes of being brought up on Greek tragedy where you always know what happens at the end.

I'm never bothered by spoilers. And I always want to know the result of sports fixtures before I watch the highlights *g*.

In reality, he can be a bit of a pillock.

And having asked him, "had x crossed your mind when you wrote y" I would, personally, have been much happier with a simple "no".

Not having met him, I couldn't say. I suspect that, like many of us, he can express his thoughts better on paper when he has has time to think. Even if he is a pillock in person, though, this makes no difference to my admiration for his books (though I wish he would learn the proper use of the semi-colon and colon) or the fact that, on this issue at least, I agree with him entirely.

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