How To Handle Misinterpretation

How To Handle Misinterpretation

What if people misinterpret your writing? Well, there are a couple things you can do.

Being a Writing/Communications major, I took a lot of literature classes in college. Throughout those classes, one huge theme repeatedly caught my attention--one that plagues every writer, if I'm not mistaken--and that is how to interpret literature.

Now, I'm not going to write a guide for how you should interpret literature. It would take me a long time and you probably wouldn't agree with me. This is more of a look into the writer's side of things. After all, there would be no literature to interpret if it wasn't for writers.

So let's start with the scary stuff:

As soon as you publish something, whether it be through an official publishing house or a blog or a printout you've handed to your friends, the work is no longer under your protection. Up until now, you've had complete control. Nobody could read your writing, and therefore nobody could rip it apart. But we're all mature here and we all want to improve, so we know that releasing our babies to the public is a good way to unearth our faults. As long as we can stand the criticism and make constructive changes, we're all good.

But what if someone reads your work and then misinterprets it completely? There's a chance--whenever you release your darlings into the Wild Badlands of the Public Eye--that some reader is going to take a totally wacky message from your words. For example, one time I submitted a short story to a writing class, and the people who proofread it thought my main character was in a Girl Scout troop. (She was actually a cadet in a space battle training academy). This is a small example. Some different works, like philosophical essays or analytical articles, may have more important meanings that the author would prefer someone not misinterpret at all costs. It could destroy the author's entire main point.

Like I said, scary stuff.

Here, however, is the point: when I said 'release your darlings', I wasn't joking. Writers have undying love for their work, and unfortunately that love can act as a massive blinder. When my writing class asked if my main character was a Girl Scout, I blurted "WHAT?" but then instantly realized what had happened. In short, my writing skills sucked. If I wanted the story to be interpreted correctly, I should have added more genre-specific details. It was a simple fix in that case, but it made me think.

In order to avoid misinterpretation, writers must be clear. We must practice writing, re-writing, re-re-writing and editing all those rewrites. We should also depend on our beta readers to uncover muddled ideas. And that is constructive criticism at its finest. Embrace the crit. It'll help, even if it stings.

Another reminder--when you release your work, it's going to be misinterpreted by somebody anyway. There are just too many people in the world for all of them to think exactly like you. This is okay. If you have the chance, a polite correction would be nice, but most of the time that isn't an option. This is also okay. Once you've published, you have to accept the blows as they come. It could mean a) you weren't as clear as you thought and it's another opportunity for improvement, or b) they misread a detail and made a false judgment. Part of writing is being humble and resilient, and if this situation doesn't spawn humility and resiliency, then I don't know what will.

All the same, keep writing. Improve yourself, trust your audience and roll with the outcome as it unfolds.

Cover Image Credit: Lalesh Aldarwish

Popular Right Now

What Your Hogwarts House Says About You

Get yourself sorted and find out where you belong in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.

Sorting at Hogwarts is a big deal. Being sorted into a house is essentially being placed into a family while you are away from home learning about witchcraft and wizardry. Your house is made up of the people you will live with, go to classes with, play Quidditch with and everything in between. You basically spend 24/7 with them. Your Hogwarts house is your home away from home.

When you get sorted into a house, it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you.

When you’re a first year at Hogwarts, the minute you set foot in the castle you are swept into the Great Hall to have the ancient Sorting Hat placed on your head. This Sorting Hat decides which “family” you’ll be spending your seven years with.

For some, it is very obvious which house they will be in, due to certain personality traits they possess. For others, they may exemplify traits that fit a multitude of houses and are uncertain where they may end up.

To find out where you belong, you can take the official "Harry Potter" Sorting Hat quiz at For all you muggles out there, these are the characteristics that the houses possess and what your house says about you:

Gryffindor: The house of the brave, loyal, courageous, adventurous, daring and chivalrous. Those who stand up for others are typically Gryffindors. Brave-hearted is the most well-known Gryffindor characteristic, and Gryffindors are also known for having a lot of nerve.

Gryffindors are people who hold a multitude of qualities alongside the ones listed, making them a very well-rounded house. People who are Gryffindors are often people who could fit nicely into another house but choose to tell the sorting hat they want Gryffindor (there's that bravery). "Do what is right" is the motto Gryffindors go by.

Being a Gryffindor means that you're probably the adventurous and courageous friend, and you are usually known for doing what is right.

Ravenclaw: The house is known for their wisdom, intelligence, creativity, cleverness and knowledge. Those who value brains over brawn can be found here. Ravenclaws often tend to be quite quirky as well. "Do what is wise" is the motto they strive to follow.

Though Ravenclaws can be know-it-alls sometimes, they most likely do know what the wisest decision is.

If you are known for being the quirky friend, the smartest in the group or just great at making wise decisions, you're definitely a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff: This house values hard work, dedication, fair play, patience, and loyalty. Hufflepuff’s are known for being just and true. "Do what is nice" is their motto.

Hufflepuff is known as the “nice house” and believes strongly in sparing peoples feelings and being kind. This is not to say that Hufflepuffs aren't smart or courageous. Hufflepuffs just enjoy making others happy and tend to be more patient towards people.

If you ever find that you are too nice for your own good and cannot bear to hurt someone’s feelings, congratulations, you are a Hufflepuff.

Slytherin: This is the house of the cunning, prideful, resourceful, ambitious, intelligent, and determined. Slytherin's love to be in charge and crave leadership. "Do what is necessary" is the motto of this house.

Slytherin is a fairly well-rounded house, similar to the other houses. They are loyal to those that are loyal to them just as Gryffindors are and are intelligent as Ravenclaws.

Slytherin house as a whole is not evil, despite how many dark wizards come out of this house. That is merely based on the choices of those wizards (so if your friend is a Slytherin, don’t judge, it doesn’t mean they are mean people). Slytherins do, however, have a tendency to be arrogant or prideful. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone in Slytherin is exceedingly proud to be there.

What Hogwarts house you’re in says a lot about the person you are, the traits you possess and how you may act in some situations. But in the end, your house is really just your home that is always there for you. Always.

Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

6 Things I Never Miss To Have In My Handbag

My handbag is a 'mini me' and I feel totally clueless without it


I take my handbag everywhere and carried everything at times even junk, worn out receipts, tickets, coupons for a long time. Thought it would be the right time to come to terms with it. I have started organizing or should I say customize my shoulder companion with things that are needed every day for me so that I could share it with you peeps. I really like my handbag that I became a sucker for naming it and you can see it why.

My Nutcracker Case

It might seem different but that is how I like to call my cute little box with nuts. I fill them up with almonds, pistachios, cashews, walnut and dried fruits and sorts if I go out. My nutcracker case helps me with my hunger pangs and snacking habit. I can munch them on when I have to skip my eating during my studies or if I have some work or travel. It is just a simple healthy alternative I do instead of grabbing fries or burgers. I've been taking healthy choices lately and this idea is helping me a lot. Try it!

My Perfume

I literally cannot survive without my perfume. It keeps me going and it really helps me on the go. My perfume is like a part of me so I am very choosy about it. So that said, I always keep my perfume in my handbag. How do I choose my perfume? My nose has a sharp sensitivity over the fragrances. So it says, what is the best perfume for women.

My Tech Space

I use to put up a fight every time with my handbag in the name of searching for my charger and headphones. So I gave it a thought. My favorite clear pouch came to the rescue and I gave it a name, my Tech Space. I carry my two headphones, my power bank, pen drives, travel phone charger, memory cards, and USB connector within the Tech space!

Money Banks

Well you would have figured it out by now. Yes, it's my wallet . Something I would never miss to have. I do have a separate small coin pouch. I am not a big wallet person so I always prefer a small comfortable wallet with many racks where I put my cards and ready-cash. I don't just put my wallet in my bag; I specifically have them in a zipped compartment. Once I had a bad experience when I left my wallet in the room due to 'bag cleaning'. So from then on, I started to put my wallet in a separate zipped compartment, so that it remains safe even when I occasionally take out the bag.

My Journal

I am still an old school. I will better remember the details when I manually write it down. My journal is also my 'To-Do list' so I pretty much use it for everything. I carry a fountain pen with me which I use, so pretty much I am a very old school indeed.


I stash all my skin essentials in this pouch. I will have a small bottle of my daily-facewash, a pack of facial tissues, my moisturizer, a concealer, small mirror and a light lip shade, overall a quick makeup fix. I have a side compartment in my vanity pouch where I keep my sanitary needs. I need my lip balm very often, so I usually put it the bag so every time I don't have to open the pouch.

When you ask me, my bag is more like a non-talking companion who literally has a small version of my room in it. What about yours?

Related Content

Facebook Comments