Tuesday, January 07, 2014

The Consequence of Absence in Stories

When Stanley Fish developed Reader Response theory, I bet he never thought of this. For my money, discovering patterns of how people read things into a story is a reader response theory worth having. We need to explore these sorts of patterns more often, in no small part to discover how we think and why we think that way. From a storytelling perspective, we may discover why there are patterns of details -- both those present and absent. Indeed, postmodern approaches to texts were interested in what was left out. With this approach, we may discover why some details are left out, and why some are put in. Why say how tall a risk-taker is if the author sees the risk-taker as tall and if the listeners are likely to imagine him as tall? The only reason you might want to mention height is if you wanted to go against expectations and describe the risk-taker as short. More research needs to happen along these lines, so we can learn more both about our patterns of thinking and about the patterns we create within our stories.
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