Do Readers Fear What They Don’t Understand?


It’s not something new, but it definitely is a common reaction to books, storylines, or events that they don’t fully grasp.

It’s a common reaction, you pick up a new book that catches your attention at first. Then whether one or two issues in you either lose interest, feel underwhelmed, or leave it in confusion for the what the point of the story is. Is it the writers fault? The publishers fault? Yours? I mean in most cases it will fall upon the latter, but not for the reasons that you find justified.

There many examples of this, but for one that’s recent which better suits this situation is Age of Ultron. They explained the basic plot very simple, “For years, the heroes of the Marvel Universe have lived in fear that the rogue artificial intelligence known as Ultron would one day evolve to fulfill its desire to wipe out all organic life and take over the Earth,  that day has arrived.” That was it, and that was all we really need to know about the story going in. Bendis made it a point in many interviews that nothing in this book was going to be understood off the bat. It is a story that would continue to unravel and it wouldn’t be till the very end that you understand the true plot. Even with this said you have many that dismiss the book because given these facts they want to know what’s in store for them rather then getting into the mystery of what can happen, what will happen, and the anticipation of it all. That is good storytelling that isn’t straight forward because there are plenty of other books out there just like that if there is no patience for this.

When it comes to crossovers and events, there is way too much stress put on the story being something mind blowing or the best thing you ever read. Yes there is some expectation to want from them, but it’s what you take out of it that’s most important. These aren’t just random scenarios put together as a money grab, these are plot devices and transitions. Plot devices that create the books you read now, bring closure to those characters you feel have dragged on, answer questions or introduce elements that have been long gone and forgotten. Transitions that allow characters to move on with the next chapter in their lives, make necessary adjustments if the characterization was off, or in general put heroes and villains where they should be.

For a writer to be able to go above and beyond, they can’t hold your hand with every story they create. They are as much fans as you are to have been chosen for the books they write. When you don’t agree with the writing, it’s not always the writers fault. It’s just that you don’t see the way the character is portrayed the same way that the writer does. They have to be given that creative freedom to give you stories that surprise you, make you think, something that can’t be seen on the surface. When readers don’t expect that they fear it and dismiss it. This is a problem, and not to say readers can’t be open-minded, but there can be more effort put into understanding the writer’s intentions and the focus of the story.

Jideobi is the Comic Editor at Analog Addiction where he writes all things comics and comic related(especially if X-Men). Also follow him on Twitter @Siphen0.



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22 replies »

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  9. First off I want to say awesome blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you do not mind.
    I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your thoughts prior to writing.

    I have had trouble clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out there.
    I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually lost simply just
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    • Simply take one thought and build on it, making sure it’s something you show interest in. When I wrote this the initial though was “Age of Ultron”, from there I thought about reader’s reaction to it, then mine, and then what the actual target was intended by the writer. And expanding it from there is to the usual reactions to this type of storytelling from all other books whether Marvel, DC or Indy.

      Just find one single thought, expand on it, and have fun with it. Otherwise it will feel like you’re forcing yourself to write it.


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