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Showing posts from July, 2011

When Six Blind Men Read Your Novel

An old tale from India tells of six blind men who viewed an elephant. One of the blind men concludes that the elephant is like a wall. Another believes the elephant is like a snake. The others perceive it as a spear, a tree, a fan or a rope. Each blind man forms his own idea of what the elephant is like, depending upon where he touches it. One the most famous versions of this story is the poem "The Blind Men and the Elephant " by John Godfrey Saxe (1816–1887). His poem concludes: And so these men of Hindustan Disputed loud and long, Each in his own opinion Exceeding stiff and strong, Though each was partly in the right And all were in the wrong. Not to say readers are blind, but when we read, our perceptions can be like those of the blind men. When we write, we may hope we are leading our readers down a particular path, but their individual ideas, temperaments, and other preconceived ideas scatter readers onto different roads. As an example, look at six schools of thought abo