Re: How common a problem are 'stupid' readers?

#21

Father Wrote: Christopher Reeve proved how dangerous riding can be so I'll leave you safely up on that high horse, but being unintelligible isn't difficult. Neither is it rewarding, but I imagine you'd have quite a different outlook on that. 

I just wouldn't complain about short attention spans or a lack of focus when you tax the comprehension skills of your reader harder than Brennus taxed Rome.

That is one way to put it, but yes, I agree. No point in complaining, not everyone is on the same level. A multitude of factors goes into this, and I’ve stated it before. Anyway, in the end, don’t try and please everyone, you’ll drive yourself into a deep hole.

Know your base, the age group it appeals to, and keep on keeping on.

Re: How common a problem are 'stupid' readers?

#22

Father Wrote:
Edge Wrote: So, from what I have observed, if you want an audience that really gets into the finer detail. 25+ is the bet to go with. Even though my work is technically something those 18 - 24 would be interested in. I attract a lot more 25+ of age, due to the complexity of the writing.

You can say that again. I hired a private eye, a scientist from CERN and a postmodern philosopher to figure out the first chapter of 'Queen of Monsters'. It's been three days and they've reached no consensus on the matter, but they've started to strangle each other. My money's on the private eye, if he's the last man standing I'm paying him triple. That's the least I can do for him.

...

I laughed so hard at this post. It only makes me want to read his works more; I had already started on Restoration. :))

Re: How common a problem are 'stupid' readers?

#24
1) Most people don't have a very high level of reading comprehension because we don't actually get enough training in school, and most jobs don't require it. And most leisure time is spent with visual culture, not books. This is partly everyone's fault for having an education system that could be better, and because we don't push literature nearly as much as we advertise tv, music and movies. 

2) If readers are having trouble, a writer's first thought should be: how can I improve clarity? Not, how stupid are readers? Make it as finely written and clear as possible, before looking down on anyone for not understanding. 

Re: How common a problem are 'stupid' readers?

#25

Timothy Wrote: 2) If readers are having trouble, a writer's first thought should be: how can I improve clarity? Not, how stupid are readers? Make it as finely written and clear as possible, before looking down on anyone for not understanding.

Yep, this is it here. A writer has to be able to translate information, it might not be perfect. However, it should be to the point of where the base is able to use the information to connect the dots. At the same time however, there is only so far one can clarify, before it becomes an issue. The job is writing a story, not a guide.

So I suppose to say, the author has to find that balance through their narrative, within their intended style. Typically, the more complex something is, the longer trail that will need to be left behind. 

And as you said, most people do not have a high level of reading comprehension. I believe around the 8th grade level, which is…concerning in itself. Though, this is what there is to work with. One of the methods I use is repetition, which keeps the relevant plot points constantly in awareness. Readers don’t mind, and rather appreciate getting the reminder. I’ve just gotten better at making these points more immersive. 

Re: How common a problem are 'stupid' readers?

#26

Edge Wrote: 13 - 17, these are on the younger range, so don’t expect them to be using college level of thinking. They are still kids, and probably getting the hang of many things at this point in their life.(Younger Generation)

So, from what I have observed, if you want an audience that really gets into the finer detail. 25+ is the bet to go with. Even though my work is technically something those 18 - 24 would be interested in. I attract a lot more 25+ of age, due to the complexity of the writing.

I have always believed that a good book, a timeless one, is one that has layers that more than a certain age group of people can understand and enjoy. Let's take LotR for example. You can read it as a paper on linguistics, as a book on mythology, as a philosophical tractate, as a political statement, as a cool adventure story, as a grim fairytale. I read LotR when I was... I think 12-13 for the first time. Then re-read it years later and enjoyed it yet again. 


Saying that someone is stupid because they don't get what you intended to say is... a bit on the nose, in my opinion. We write a story with intention, yes. But how our story is seen and perceived by the reader is out of our control. a reader is allowed to interpret stories and messages however they like. Our job as authors, if we wish for it, is to make this interpretation as one-sided as possible. But that's it. When the words leave our heads, they are out of our control. We either did a "good job" and guided the sheepish reader to the correct conclusion by constantly holding their hand, or we let the story live a life of its own, broken through the mind-prism of the individual reader.

Another thing I want to address is generalizing "young readers" and dismissing them as incapable of deep philosophical thoughts. I don't know how it is in other places, and I'm aware that I had access to an excellent education, but where I'm from we started reading Homer and the Iliad at age 14, discussed Shakespeare at 15, giggled and dissected Decameron around that time, read Goethe's Faust and wrote essays on the societal structures depicted in Lord of the Flies by the age of 18. We discussed Platon, read French classics from Balzac and Moliere, and all that before we even finished high school. What I want to say is, don't generalize so much. There are readers who like deep philosophical books and ones that don't. And I find young, impressionable minds with a relative abundance of free time much more likely to like a philosophically tinted fantasy than someone who works 8-12 hours a day and just needs something to forget life and the greatness of the world in general for a few hours.

Re: How common a problem are 'stupid' readers?

#27

Edge Wrote: 25 - 45+, this is the range that tends to be more attentive.(Older Generation)



Older generation?   DrakanSweat

Beyond my first reaction to being called old when I still question what being an adult means; I would like to point out that 25-45+ is everyone older than 25+, and is alienating a large range of people that you could think about for audience. 

65+ readers who are retired and have all the time in the world to read. Highly dedicated but don't like books with game mechanics. Their kids/grandkids got them a tablet to read on. The enlarge text feature on the tablet helps them keep up their reading. 

55-65 dedicated readers who don't have all the time in the world to read yet (unless they were the stay at home parent and the kids are out of the house). Tend to have more time than younger age categories as children might be driving or have left the house. Tends to like paperback. Might have a nook or kindle depending on tech savviness. Has the potential to enjoy game/rpg elements in stories (they played original D&D in college and were gaming in the days of text based games). 

45-55 Mostly the same as 45. At some point near the end of this kids start driving. Life slows down a bit. More reading time. Great readers for longer running or completed works. (They have more time, their tech savy, they probably are also into gaming)

35-45 schedules are set in stone. Kids are young and dependent on their drivers. Reading time is scheduled, but they like to read. Probably enjoys reading and gaming. 

25 - 35 Might have young kids/planning to have kids soon (or plans to fill life with many pets and books and skip the whole kids thing). Attention span is split between house, job(s), relationship, gaming, books, TV, that terrible thing called adulting, and potentially young kids/pets. Wants book that they can enjoy quickly, likes the serialized format. Life don't have time for this. Reading is what you do before bed and what you do in the morning while drinking coffee.

(Please feel free to add to or make your own descriptions for these age ranges)


splattenburgers Wrote: A good example is not being able to identify the speaker because there is no dialog tag, even though the whole set-up of the scene, in addition to the dialog itself is such that it's not hard telling who is doing the speaking. I get it that dialog tags are needed but I try to not use them too much since having too many of them looks ugly.

Please use dialogue tags to give descriptions/action to your characters. I don't mind a dropped dialogue tag every now and then when it's just two people talking, but character movement adds interest to dialogue. Have your characters doing something while they chat and the story becomes more active. Dialogue tags used properly (not just he/she/they said) are beautiful creatures.



splattenburgers Wrote: It's like they don't understand anything that is happening unless it's made extremely obvious to them in the writing.




My biggest dislike is readers who say "I don't get it." and then never give clarification. If a reader can tell me what they don't understand, I can improve my story to make it clearer to the reader. As a writer, I am an artist who uses words. I want all my readers to be able to understand the picture I am showing them. 

Re: How common a problem are 'stupid' readers?

#28

Ariana Wrote: I have always believed that a good book, a timeless one, is one that has layers that more than a certain age group of people can understand and enjoy. Let's take LotR for example. You can read it as a paper on linguistics, as a book on mythology, as a philosophical tractate, as a political statement, as a cool adventure story, as a grim fairytale. I read LotR when I was... I think 12-13 for the first time. Then re-read it years later and enjoyed it yet again.

Right, and I agree with this.  I used to read many stories, I remember when I was younger, I read the Odyssey, and did not understand much of it. I did like it however, it took me years later before I understood what was going on much better.
Ariana Wrote: Saying that someone is stupid because they don't get what you intended to say is... a bit on the nose, in my opinion. We write a story with intention, yes. But how our story is seen and perceived by the reader is out of our control. a reader is allowed to interpret stories and messages however they like. Our job as authors, if we wish for it, is to make this interpretation as one-sided as possible. But that's it. When the words leave our heads, they are out of our control. We either did a "good job" and guided the sheepish reader to the correct conclusion by constantly holding their hand, or we let the story live a life of its own, broken through the mind-prism of the individual reader.

Right again here, this can be shown with the different views people can have. It is nothing that can be controlled, and as you said. The interpretation can be made one-sided, though even this has its limit.

Kinda remind me of some of those state reading exams, where in all reality. The story is more interpreted, but for some reason you just have to know exactly what they think. It is counter productive in short. Yeah…I hated those…🤨

Thing is, don’t get mad because someone doesn’t get it. When it comes to writing, no matter how well you do, someone will view it differently. If they didn’t, then all stories would be 5 stars.
Ariana Wrote: Another thing I want to address is generalizing "young readers" and dismissing them as incapable of deep philosophical thoughts. I don't know how it is in other places, and I'm aware that I had access to an excellent education, but where I'm from we started reading Homer and the Iliad at age 14, discussed Shakespeare at 15, giggled and dissected Decameron around that time, read Goethe's Faust and wrote essays on the societal structures depicted in Lord of the Flies by the age of 18. We discussed Platon, read French classics from Balzac and Moliere, and all that before we even finished high school. What I want to say is, don't generalize so much. There are readers who like deep philosophical books and ones that don't. And I find young, impressionable minds with a relative abundance of free time much more likely to like a philosophically tinted fantasy than someone who works 8-12 hours a day and just needs something to forget life and the greatness of the world in general for a few hours.

I believe you are misinterpreting this. What I meant here was more generally. No doubt there are some young readers that goes way beyond those of older ones, I have seen it myself. Though generally, you wouldn’t expect younger ones to display level on that of college level. While some will no doubt, most won’t be able to do so. As such, do not hold them to same level as those in the young adult to the adult phase.

Back in high school for myself personally, we have been through quite a bit of stories. Romeo and Juliet, Odyssey, etc. We even touched off on philosophical elements. However, only few were able to really nail down the points. 

And while you are right with younger audience having more time, it doesn’t necessarily translate. Since well, those who goes into the college years are expected to have a deeper level of understanding. Hence why the starting year are all of those tedious reading classes. When they come out of it, students generally leave with the ability to think more critically. So while those who do work a lot, they still have that knowledge with them. This goes on, with going into higher reading classes, which can take a while.

Anyway, what I broke down was pretty much demographic. Certain age groups translates better with particular works, this is just normal. The majority of readers are on an 8th grade level as well, this is another thing to take note of. This further branches off, and gives quite a bit to remember when portraying something.

Re: How common a problem are 'stupid' readers?

#29

Ariana Wrote: Another thing I want to address is generalizing "young readers" and dismissing them as incapable of deep philosophical thoughts. I don't know how it is in other places, and I'm aware that I had access to an excellent education, but where I'm from we started reading Homer and the Iliad at age 14, discussed Shakespeare at 15, giggled and dissected Decameron around that time, read Goethe's Faust and wrote essays on the societal structures depicted in Lord of the Flies by the age of 18. We discussed Platon, read French classics from Balzac and Moliere, and all that before we even finished high school. What I want to say is, don't generalize so much. There are readers who like deep philosophical books and ones that don't. And I find young, impressionable minds with a relative abundance of free time much more likely to like a philosophically tinted fantasy than someone who works 8-12 hours a day and just needs something to forget life and the greatness of the world in general for a few hours.



I almost missed this comment because I took forever to write my original response. Yes, this is very true. I read LotR for the first time when I was 9, and read it twelve more times before I was in college. I haven't read it again since then because time. I now don't have a ton of time to read, and want something well written, mildly hand holdy (no brain power left at the end of a long day at work), but not too exposition heavy so that I can easily read through it in my as I fall asleep time.

Re: How common a problem are 'stupid' readers?

#30
This thread is dripping with smug self-satisfaction, but I always enjoy a good swim. My only comment would be as follows: as a writer, the success of your work hinges entirely on the readers. If there’s considerable evidence that they’re “not getting it,” my first inclination would be to question my roll in all of it — not theirs. “Have I not made it clear enough? Does it only make sense to me because I’m the one holding 100% of the context?” If multiple people from completely different backgrounds are not finding the content comprehensible, it’s far more likely that you are being self-indulgent with your writing; not that they are mouth-breathing troglodytes. I once heard a quote that said, “Never assume malevolence where incompetence can easily suffice.” By that same token, never assume incompetence where your own fault can easily suffice. 

Re: How common a problem are 'stupid' readers?

#32
My assumption, based on what you said, you are most likely correct, that the readers are in fact not grasping the concepts that you place before them, but there may be another issue. When writing a story or a book in general the author, of course, knows all of the details and all of the backstory and lore. The reader does not. There are a lot of times where it's difficult to understand the point of view of the reader, their background their learning style etc. Are there parts of your story where you make assumptions about your readers? Like will they know something already? It's pretty accurate to assume people know what "September" is without explaining that it's a month. What about the things you think are obvious but wouldn't be to a reader. Make sure you aren't alluding to facts because the rules of reality don't always apply to stories so logic and using context clues might not be helpful.   If you feel like you are adequately describing and explaining everything without it becoming tedious them I recommend asking those people who post not understanding your work and ask them about their perception of it. Misinterpreting literature is literally a huge part of the reading experience i mean that's literally every English class ever potentially. But the simplest way to see what the issue is, is by asking the readers.