Sunday, June 12, 2011


Reading and writing both require trust.  The writer asks for it and the reader offers it.

When I first read THE HUNGER GAMES, I accepted the rules by which Suzanne Collins was going to play.  Everyone was going to go into an arena, only one would come out.  She complicated the story by also sending in a boy the main character liked.  About mid way through the book, Collins changed the rules. She said that two, instead of one could survive.  I felt betrayed.  I actually remember yelling some obscenities.  As far as I was concerned, the writer had broken my trust.  But I read on, if only to see how it ended.  And I was relived, by the end, to find out that the rule change had been a ruse.  Collins had not, in fact, broken my trust.  In fact, she'd pulled the rug out from under me in the most delicious way.

Writers have a responsibility not to betray the trust of their readers.  It was why I told people on the very first page of Deathday that Ollie is going to die.  That way, not matter what else you thought of how Ollie spent his day, or how big a jerk he was, or wondered too where the letters came from, you could trust that I was leading up to something.  Ollie was going to die and his journey was going to mean something.

The first time I read Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, I nearly gave up on it a dozen times.  The beginning was boring to me.  But now I count it as one of my top five favorite books of all time.  And every time I read a book by Marchetta, I trust that she knows what she's doing, where the story is going, and that she won't let the story get away from her, no matter how often it seems like it might in those first 100 pages.

Reading and writing is something of a compact between two people. When I write, I'm not writing for a group of people.  I'm writing for just one person.  One individual at a time.  All I can say is that I have a plan and I hope you'll trust me.

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