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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Perception By Our Readers Is Not Always the Same

Image result for free image or clipart person surprised
Hmmm, did the writer really mean that?

 I subbed an essay to my critique group a few days ago on the topic of aging. There was some intended humor in the piece, especially in one section. The first two people who critiqued it saw the humor while the third one did not. Instead, she was terribly concerned about the words I'd used to describe people in their 80's and 90's. I was quoting someone else in that part because I thought it was lighthearted and worth a grin and it illustrated a point.

I was quite surprised that she had not seen the humor. It's made me consider the fact that not all readers take what they read in the same way. Perhaps because the entire essay was not one of rollicking humor, she didn't find any of it amusing. Or just did not expect it. 

What if the essay does get published and half the readers are feeling sorry for me and the other half are smiling with me at the absurdity of part of the essay? As a writer, I have no real control over the way a reader sees what I've written. Should we put in parentheses (laugh here)? Of course not. That would be like the old vaudeville shows and early tv shows where signs were put up to alert the audience to applaud or laugh. Fakey! 

The only thing we, as writers, can do is to read the piece over before submitting it and try to see what we've written from different perceptions. Even then, we might not be able to do much about it, other than be aware that not everyone reads with the same background experience, morals, humor and more. And maybe to be ready for some criticism.

What about editors? It's quite possible that an editor who is a very serious person might miss intended humor. Another might catch it immediately. Again, it is the difference in people. You know which editor is more likely to accept the piece. 

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