With great power also comes great responsibility. This is quite a common saying–also thanks to its popularization by the creators of Spider-Man, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.
In any case, this saying is so widespread also because it’s deeply true.
Not just rules for writers…
To realize this we don’t need to look for superheroes fighting against super villains always only one step away from destroying the world. We can just keep our eyes open during our everyday activities.
Take traffic officers, for example. In the overwhelming majority of the cases, they behave in a professional way, irrespective of the fact they have stopped us for a routine control or to give us a ticket.
However, it is also true that once in a while we all have come across some of those traffic officers that are full of themselves.
So much so, indeed, that a hot-air balloon would pale by comparison.
When this happens we feel wronged two times.
The first for the inappropriate behavior per se. The second because we can’t simply say goodbye to the rude idiots who are taking liberties with us. We have to endure their, let’s say, less than stellar manners.
Of course, afterward we can and should report such a episode, but this is beyond the point. The example is only meant to make it apparent how even a relatively small difference in power can be obnoxious if badly handled.
Incidentally, this is also why to be legitimized, governments have to build a relationship with their citizens that is on an equal footing.
In fact, only in this way laws can be obeyed not because they’re constantly enforced, but because they’re considered right and necessary.
Readers and writers
The relationship between readers and writers is another example of the difference I just exemplified above. And in some ways it is an extreme example.
Just think for a moment. Once a reader has opened a book and started reading it, she has surrounded a large part of herself to the narrative care of the writer.
After all, she has already read the title of the book and found it interesting. She has examined the cover and decided for some reasons it clicked with her. She might also have read the blurb and so finally made the decision to buy the book.
In short, she has decided the book she has chosen is what she wants and needs right now. Of course, the writer can’t grant the reader she will find the book to be exactly as she expected it. But that’s part of the game. That’s life.
However, the writer has another kind of obligation. Namely, he has the obligation to make as easy as possible for readers to choose the best possible book for themselves.
Sure, some writers might be tempted to tinker around to allure a wider audience.
But this is a suicide tactic. First of all because making your title, subtitle, cover, and blurb more generic inevitably means to water down the uniqueness of your book.
Secondly, because even if in this way you sold many more copies, you would then face the risk of having a notable surge in the number of negative reviews.
And not necessarily the ones going more or less like, Though the writer knows how to turn a phrase, I didn’t like the story.
I mean more something like, This book is so bad I hope to forget of ever having read it.
Rules for writers? Phew! Writers can create whole worlds and then crush them into non existence. They can grant their characters superpowers, or cripple them. They can make jumps in space and time. They can invent new laws of physics. But writers cannot invent readers.
And readers can always put down the book they’re reading and decide to never ever again pick up one from the same author.