Theory versus practice…

Back to the retrospective MA diary, and the question of literary theory.  What use does a wannabe novelist have for the strange philosophies of Structuralism, Postmodernism or Reception Theory, to name but three?  Apart from making rubbish jokes about the so-called ‘Death of the Author,’ of course…

I have to say that I quite enjoyed dipping back into theory as part of my MA, partly because it’s sometimes nice to do something intellectually challenging for a change.  And it sometimes helps to give a different perspective on the practicalities of writing.  Take Wolfgang Iser’s idea that the reader is constantly revising what he thinks of a text because each new section causes him to re-evaluate what he read before, and also to have new expectations of what is still to come. Sounds odd? But think about a reader of a whodunnit, who is working his way through a series of clues and misdirections… And then you start to see what Iser means. So a bit of theory can be quite a good thing, so long as it doesn’t keep you from the hard graft of putting your own words on the page…

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