Death of the Author

Death of the Author

Death of the Author is a term I often refer to in my teaching of creative writing.  I feel it an aspect we have to ‘nail’ as writers, so I've created a blog post, offering a bit more depth.

Death of the Author is a literary term which means that a reader is so immersed in the story they are reading, that they become almost unaware that they are reading a piece of fiction that has been created by a writer.

They are literally living in the story within the settings and

Death of the Author
What does the term 'death of the author' mean?

amongst the characters the writer has created.  Their level of engagement will be so intense, they will lose track of their own existence and simply keep turning the pages.

What you are aiming for as the writer, is to engross your reader to the point where they are reading when they should be sleeping, or missing their bus stop!

Create a story they are ‘sad’ to finish – one where they will miss the characters afterwards.  Here’s some tips how to do it.

  • Hook them in to your story straight away. Create a compelling opening.
  • Create a setting they can imagine. Make it atmospheric and drip feed sensory information through your narrative.
  • Go easy on the speech tags. (exclaimed, shouted, yelled) they jar a reader from your story.  Rather ‘show’ which character is speaking.  e.g. “I just can’t take it in.”  Richard accepted the tissue and sank onto the chair.
  • Go easy on adverbs – use a stronger verb instead.  e.g. Instead of Mark walked quietly to the door, use Mark crept to the door.
  • Use adjectives sparingly and never place two together – where you can, ‘show’ your adjective, so instead of saying, he was a tall man, show him stooping below a door.
  • Allow reading to be an active process. Don’t tell the reader everything.  Allow them to fill the gaps and make inferences.  So if you were writing about a hospital appointment, they wouldn’t necessarily need to know about the journey and the waiting room or the full conversation, just the bits that keep the story moving forwards.

Writing and reading a story is an unsigned contract.  You, as the writer, promise to give your reader and immersive and entertaining reading experience and they, in turn, promise to read your story to the end.  But only if they can lose themselves in it, otherwise you will lose them.

As always, if there is ever anything I can help you with, just drop me a line.  I am always happy to help a fellow writer.

© Maria Stephenson