Lori asked another good question:
It seems that a lot of text have layers to them that are only noticeable or understood when studied or scrutinized, not when the text is simply read for enjoyment. Who does the writers put those layers and subtle subtexts into their work for? Themselves? To prove to others that they are capable of such things? Or do they add something to the text that's not readily apparent to the casual reader but that would be missed by the casual reader if they were absent?
My answer:

For the readers. Not ALL the readers, but those who take the time to read deeply, or those who read the book multiple times, or academia that study it. Layers, symbolisms, subtexts, and so on are like details, much like the varying hues in a flower petals, or the intricate patterns on a leaf. A casual observer would only see the whole and a general impression; and that's all fine. The flowers are red and beautiful. The leaves are green and fresh looking. But for the person/reader who dares to delve deeper, there's a whole different level(s) to appreciate, and it can be very gratifying.

Think of it as the hidden treasures, the golden nuggets somewhere for the curious to find. They can be very rewarding for the readers. And for the writer as well, when some of his readers "get it." I've had a few very attentive readers who see the layers and subtexts in my stories, and that's very satisfying for me when they tell me. It's the fulfillment of the ultimate writer-reader contract.


jenni said…
I like layers. It makes the text more interactive. But I never layer my own text consciously, the layers just happen (if they do). I like your analogy, description about layering and flowers.
Ray Wong said…
I agree, Jenni. In most cases, it's a discovery for both the writer and the reader.

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