I’ll bet you have had the urge to explain to a reader / reviewer what you meant, when they stumble on a passage of your story or novel.

Image: www.compassministry.info

I certainly have.  And while having the urge is good (and I’ll explain that in a minute), actually attempting to explain what you wrote to a reader is the kiss of death.

The reason it is bad, and the reason you might want to in the first place, both point to the same issue.  A failure to communicate.  It is important to understand that it is your failure, not the readers.  It doesn’t matter how smart the reader is, how much education they have had, if they like you, or if they like the genre.  If your story fails to communicate with them you only have two choices:

  1. Loudly state that the work was not intended for this particular audience, or
  2. Work on it until it does communicate what you wanted to say without additional explanation.

Pardon me for over-simplifying this, especially if you are an extremely clever writer who uses obscure cultural references or witty turns of phrase.  I tend to do that myself, and find that I often miss the mark by out-clevering myself.

Some say they write for themselves.  Some have no real concern for the reaction of the reader.

Me?  I want to sell books.  I don’t need to be Stephen King, but I want what I write to be read by others.  I want my words to touch the reader.

As it is for you, it is up to me to be sure I communicate.

Getting the idea across is my job.