On doing other people’s homework

This is probably something adult writers don’t run into as often as young adult and middle grade writers: readers who want you to do their homework for them, answer questions directly out of their papers, and so on.

Anyway, most writers resist this because of the obvious feeling that everyone should do their own homework. But halseanderson brings up another reason that I think it’s easy to forget: because if the author gives you the answer, you don’t get to come up with answers of your own.

Jane Yolen wrote an essay, the title of which I’m unfortunately forgetting, about how the story the writer writes isn’t the only story there; there’s also the story the reader takes from the page, which is just as valid and necessary, and which the author doesn’t have a right to deny the reader.

I think it’s true. My right to control what a story means ends when I send it out into the world, where other readers can see it. And this is as it should be–is much of the point of reading a book in the first place.

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