A lot of people have pet peeves about what they do and how people absorb it. One of mine has to do with the assumptions that are made by readers when they pick up a book and try to divine the author’s mindset and how it affected the story. It’s very obvious at times, especially when the author comes out and says so, how that individual was feeling when they were writing, and what they might have been going through. Yet some readers will take it further still and inject their own bias and way of thinking into a story to make it out to be something completely different from what author intended.
Is this bad?
No, no not at all. In fact it’s only a problem if the reader decides to think that this means they know the author’s mindset better than the author does. It’s a dangerous assumption that they work with that can eventually lead to inspiration of their own and possibly an idea that they can run with. But it’s also possible that it will become an obsession that will steer them down a road that has no happy ending. Readers that assume they know the author better than the author knows themselves tend to be those that simply don’t understand how to enjoy a story for what it is. They ascribe so many facets of the world around them and their interpretation of it that they miss the point entirely. A story is meant to entertain first and foremost. As for anything else, at least try to ask the author what they meant by one passage or another.
Those that take things too far can become a bit scary.
Remember back to the book Misery and think upon what that particular fan believed was true. She had no idea what the author was truly thinking and couldn’t fathom why he would do such a thing to his own character. People that are this invested in the story are great, so long as they don’t step over that line between fiction and reality without looking back. Authors do this continually, we’ve learned how over the years and tend to know our way back as we straddle the line on a constant basis.
But those that read for enjoyment and do so in an attempt to escape can and sometimes do get lost, and their assumptions concerning the story and the author become a dangerous mix of paranoia and delusion that doesn’t often allow for a stable mindset. That this is possible is bad enough, but that it could become a very real story is even worse.
As a reader just know that you don’t fully understand the author and possibly can’t unless they reveal their secrets or you happen to speak with them and get the reason behind their writing. Don’t go thinking that you know everything about the reason an author writes, at least not without having tried to do it yourself. If you succeed then by all means you’ll have learned what it’s like. If not, then crack a book and enjoy, but please, keep your assumptions to yourself.