It is often the case that while listening to songs, we hear (and subsequently sing) the wrong lyrics. Okay, well, I shouldn't speak for all of you. I guess what I should really say is, it is often the case that I completely screw up the lyrics to almost every song I sing. My children do this as well. Their latest one: "Sandwich You Need to Say" by John Mayer.
"Mom, what does the sandwich need to say?" my daughter asked me today.
I find this specific example of misunderstood lyrics especially ironic, because his song is all about saying what you need to say. And of course since I relate everything back to writing it got me to thinking about books and how many times people might misunderstand our character's intentions or motivations. I often feel very tempted to spell it out for the reader, but then I remind myself that everybody is going to bring their own experiences and emotions with them when they read and that everyone will probably relate to my characters differently. It's all about letting my characters be who they are and hoping that people don't think they are saying "sandwich" when they are really trying to say "say what".
I know what you mean! I also feel like this when I submit my first 250 words or whatever to "Miss Snark's First Victim" or similar. I know what my character's intentions are, but obviously something's been lost in translation!ReplyDelete
I think it's a good thing, though, that everyone brings their own experiences with them when they read. If your characters appeal to a lot of people, it means you've done your job :)
Also, for the longest time I thought Van Halen's "Panama" was really "Animal." Makes sense, right?
This can be so frustrating and so awesome at the same time! I love seeing what other people see in my characters. It always surprises me, but then I think about it and see where they are coming from.ReplyDelete
I think it was you who said that Coral was naive, and that surprised me. I was so focused on her sense of self that I didn't realize it. But it's totally true. I love that.
LOL, love this example, maybe because I adore John Mayer. Got to see him in N.O. with my DD 5 or so years ago. He does chew on his words a bit...guess that's part of his original-ness. :)ReplyDelete
All I can say is I'm so glad you translated some of my characters intent for everyone last night! lolReplyDelete
When two of my sons were 4 and 6, one of them sang, "Jesus loves me the sino." and the other recited, "In my Father's house are many matches." God love them.
LOL! I STILL have a massive hard time to the lyrics of Unbelievable by EMF. LOL! I had some british kids tell me what he as saying, but i've forgotten now! LOL! And I think as I rewrite Mansfield Park this exact thing is happening to me. So many people feel like Fanny was a wimp--and I don't think so. I think nowadays she may come off as one, considering what we consider to be culturally correct, but I think in her time she was SO brave and really stood up for what she believed in.ReplyDelete
As an expert in the field of misunderstood words, I used to think Santana's Medieval Woman was mean evil woman. And when Tom Jones sang She's a Lady, when he said "she's a winner" I thought he said weiner.ReplyDelete
I guess it's about drawing out our characters in such a way that readers will naturally follow the author's invisible hand to the right conclusions. It's not easy, that's for sure!ReplyDelete
Good post! When I write I only think of me. Is that selfish? It might help me out to consider the emotions and perceptions of my readers. Thanks.ReplyDelete
I wonder sometimes, too, how my characters thoughts and actions will be interpreted by the reader...maybe I'll soon find out...maybe I'm going to just ask and see...or maybe I'll not *laugh*ReplyDelete
Very true, you pointed out a few things to me that I'd never considered as well. The character that you knew in your head would do those things. Reader POV is a very interesting thing isn't it.ReplyDelete
By the way, few people know this, but "Billie Jean is not my mother, she's just a girl who thinks that I'm on the sun!" La la la! :P Take that MJ!
Sorry for the neglect, everyone, I'm knee deep in two projects right now and they're taking all my time. I do love to hear from all of you so I'm going to answer y'all now.ReplyDelete
AC, I think it's good too that everyone brings their own experiences to their reading. It helps people make the character fit their needs. Love your Van Halen mess up, that's funny.
Nat, your characters are all so unique and deep that it's easy for me to figure out who they are. I'm glad I could surprise you with my take on Coral (but she totally is and should be because of her experiences).
Angie, I like John Mayer too. I'm so jealous that you got to see him.
Linda, grrr, I felt so defensive of your characters, as though they are my personal friends. LOL Once again, I need to learn to just stop talking. LOL
Jenni, I love Lilly and she's not a wimp. She's so sweet. Write More! Once again, let me reiterate, I hate reading books in small sections. I need it all at once! You're slowly killing me here.ReplyDelete
Tricia, don't remind me of your misunderstood words. It's making me laugh so hard right now! I just thought of like 3 separate instances in your book that had me rolling.
Joanne, I know, invisible author, that's the hard part. Leading put not demanding. Sigh.
Little Red, thanks for dropping by, love your name. I need to drop by your site now. Selfish? Never. I only think about what I want too until people start telling me that they saw it a different way and then I'm like ...What? LOL But I just have accept it. My characters are themselves (kind of like my children) and not an extension of me. LOL
Kathryn, it's better not to ask, isn't it? LOL Maybe I'll try that method and I'll feel much better.ReplyDelete
Jenn, don't even get me started on the Michael Jackson lyrics I've misinterpreted. Seriously, don't. LOL
I never get the words right! But your post does make me think too how when I even write on my blog--people take it in all differently. So we can't control that and it's interesting to see how people read things.ReplyDelete
What a great post! This is so true. I'm always fighting back to explain my characters to my readers.ReplyDelete
Natalie has introduced me to your blog. We have "things" in common, so it's nice to meet you! I'll add you to my list and visit back often. :)
This is a great post. :o)ReplyDelete
You now how I feel about this!! Don't force feed the readers!ReplyDelete
I can't thank you enough for posting this... My 4 year old son heard this song on the radio and has been singing "sandwich for me to say, sandwich for me to say". He asked me to find it on youtube for him but I had no clue so I did a search and found your blog.ReplyDelete
He is going to be so happy when I finally play the song for him lol.