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Lead Me Gently, Author...

  Posted by From The Write Angle , 24 August 2015 · 302 views

by Cat Woods

When I open a book, I embark on a magical journey. The path is set before me, and page by page, I explore a new world until I reach the destination at The End. If I'm lucky, I will walk away changed somehow. Your words will have touched some inner part of me and asked me to evaluate and re-evaluate the way I live my life and the way I see the world. It will challenge me to be a better person, one more cognizant of the people and places around me. It will fill some small part of me I didn't know was empty.

And so I ask, lead me gently, author, and I will follow.

Help me discover amazing gems off the beaten path.

But please, please, please do not tell me what you want me to know.

Rather, let me attach my own meaning to your words. Ignite my senses so I can take away what I need from your writing. Help me feel your book in my heart and soul, not just swallow the sustenance you believe I need.

Tread carefully and don't moralize. Let your characters grow so that I may, too.

Guide me, don't instruct me.
Share without preaching.

Dear Author, I've been told that readers are lazy, that they need you to draw them a map from Point A to Point B. That assumption scares me. It means you are responsible for making the reading experience equal for every reader. It means there would be no need for book discussions because we've all walked in each other's footsteps over the same rocky terrain with our eyes trained on a sole destination. It means we will miss the greatest opportunity to look past the words and see between the lines.

We will miss not only the forest, but also the trees.
We will fail to see the magic hiding right beside us.

And so I ask, dear author, don't give your ending away on page one, and don't beat me over the head with your message.
Don't foreshadow so much...

...that you ruin the surprise.

Your book isn't a soap box.
It's a gift to the world.

Treat it as such.

How do you share your passion without crossing the line? At what point do we risk losing our readers to a pedantic attitude? When is it our job to connect the dots, and when do we allow readers to make their own connections? Is it important that our readers understand and feel exactly what we want them to, or is it more important that they walk away from our writing with the message they need?

Curious minds want to know.

Cat is an avid hiker and lover of all things amazing. She enjoys exploring off-the-beaten-path with her daughter in State Parks across the upper Midwest and thinks that regardless of the destination, the journey is half the fun. When she's not hiking in the woods, she's blogging at Words from the Woods or writing juvenile lit from her little house on the prairie.


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