Recently I’ve seen articles floating around about J.K. Rowling saying that she supports a theory in Harry Potter that has Dumbledore representing Death. One, in particular caught my eye because of a quote at the end:
“The world [J.K. Rowling] created is as surprising to her at times as it is for all of us.” – Kevin O’Keeffe
Does any author ever really know the worlds they are writing completely? I feel like there are always hidden corners and endless possibilities in worlds – they are as vast as our imaginations will allow and there are always hidden corners and unexplored spaces. It’s impossible to know everything about the world we live in, why would fictional worlds be any different?
I’m also struck, constantly, by the reality that readers will always have their own interpretations. No matter how well an author knows their work, how thoroughly they think through metaphor, symbolism and meaning, readers are going to find their own meanings in the writing. That is part of the power of a good story, it allows the reader to run with it – to imagine themselves not only in the world but also to want to dig deeper — keeping the story alive long after the last page has turned and to revisit those pages again and again for even more depth, more meaning.
These are things I love about writing. What I put on the page, what I intend readers to understand, my not be what they end up understanding. Sometimes they can find so much more in what I’ve written — I have loved instances when beta-readers had asked questions or made comments about their expectations of the story which aren’t what I originally intended, but fit so perfectly. Another set of eyes looking at the worlds I’m writing about with fresh perspective, able to see things that I may have overlooked.
The worlds of fiction are amazing living things that grow, shift, change and are always full of surprises. It’s part of their power.