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Word Of God / Literature

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Word of God in Literature.

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Who said it, and when or where they said it is included in these examples. If you don't know when or where, even in general, please add your examples to the section below, not here.

  • Some of Dante's thoughts and commentary on The Divine Comedy have survived the centuries, including one letter where he makes it clear that the Comedy serves as an Allegory for the relationship between freedom and salvation, among other ideas.
    "The subject of the whole work, taken only from a literal standpoint, is simply the status of the soul after death, taken simply. The movement of the whole work turns from it and around it. If the work is taken allegorically, however, the subject is man, either gaining or losing merit through his freedom of will, subject to the justice of being rewarded or punished."
  • Go to Sleep (A Jeff the Killer Rewrite): The author's podcast where she revisits the rewrite in 2020 has clarifications regarding events in the story:
    • Most of the rumors about Randy's broken home life are false. Even Randy lies about having Abusive Parents when he claims his father poured bleach on him, but it's possible that his parents are neglectful. It is true that Randy harms animals for fun, however, and he has gotten into trouble with cops several times before, presumably for that reason. He just happens to be a manipulative jerkass with an underlying case of Antisocial Personality Disorder, possibly psychopathy.
    • What happened to Ben in the time Jeff ran back to the cabin before finding him? Randy was causing a commotion at the docks by picking on a kid. Ben stands up to Randy to protect the kid, and Randy pushes Ben into the water. Others either presume that he's faking his drowning or didn't care enough to help him, and by the time a counsellor rescues him, the damage had been done.
    • Although the timeframe or location isn't explicitly mentioned in the story, the events occur in 2010 in a New Jersey suburb.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Much of the information regarding what happens to the characters after the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has come from interviews with J. K. Rowling, or postings on her own website. Many of the interviews are archived on Muggle-net or The Leaky Cauldron. Rowling is also writing a Harry Potter encyclopedia which will contain background information which never made it into the novels, thus turning this into All There in the Manual when it's published.
    • The strength of Word of God in the Harry Potter fandom seems unusual compared to many other literature fandoms, possibly because of the sheer amount of interview material given by Rowling. The massive success of the series made her very powerful, to the point that most people in the fandom have read a great number of interviews, and everything she says gets archived and treated as gospel truth (even though she sometimes contradicts herself or changes things later on). It's nearly impossible to find a Harry Potter roleplay or fandom community that doesn't treat interview material as equally important as the content of the actual series, and individuals who try to theorize about or play characters based solely on the book content will find themselves attacked for not knowing enough about the character.
    • JK Rowling loves giving Word of God so much that she is apparently launching a whole new website just to give her fans some more.
  • David Weber, writer of (among other things) the Honor Harrington series, occasionally makes proclamations on points of confusion by fans, on the newsgroup featuring him (alt.books.david-weber) and the Baen Bar, a forum maintained by Baen Books, the publisher of many Science Fiction and Fantasy works. These are occasionally collected, and posted here for perusal by those not reading the forums and/or newsgroup, maintained by Joe Buckley (who's a regular Red Shirt in various Baen-published novels; Honor Harrington has had several Buckleys killed in and of itself).
  • Neil Gaiman has said in interviews that he intended Silas from The Graveyard Book to be a vampire. On the other hand, he also said "If you miss it, that's fine. You'll just get a slightly different book."
  • Aaron Allston, writer of part of the X-Wing Series, in his faq posits what he thinks happened to his characters in the twenty or so years between Wraith Squadron and the Vong War, as well as some details that never made it into the books, like ship names.
  • The "Frequently Asked Questions" page on Legrand's official website includes trivia about The Empirium Trilogy.
    • Legrand had the most fun writing Rielle, Simon, Remy, and Corien while Eliana and Ludivine were the most challenging.
    • In its initial state, Furyborn was too long and unpolished enough that numerous agents kept rejecting her query letters. It wasn't until she wrote and shopped around The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls that she was able to find an agent. (Cavendish itself would become her debut novel.)
    • Of the novels she's written, Legrand's personal favorite is a three-way tie with Lightbringer being one of them.
    • Legrand considers Furyborn the hardest book she's ever written, on account of the fact that it took twelve years to write and edit.
    • Chapter 41 of Furyborn is her favorite chapter from that novel.
  • John Scalzi parodied the controversy over the canonicity of J.K. Rowling's Word of Gay for Dumbledore by posting a list of facts about the protagonist of Old Man's War on his blog and declaring them canonical. They included "He is allergic to blueberries" and "He is distantly related to Dwight Eisenhower".
  • Orson Scott Card's book Empire (a prequel, of sorts, to the X Box Live Arcade game Shadow Complex) ends with an interesting, and quite apt, afterward written by the author about the problems of extremisim in the American Political Parties, which we're told is what moral of the book was meant to be.
  • For a while, Lois Lowry refused to explain the Gainax Ending of The Giver, which could be interpreted as either the main character's triumphant escape from his dystopian society or a Dying Dream as he froze to death. However, after asking if anyone had any questions at the author Q&A of the 2009 National Book Festival in Washington, DC, Lowry added, "Jonas is alive, by the way. You don't have to ask that one."
  • Brandon Sanderson provides a lot of Word of God on his books in the chapter annotations on his site, in blog entries (also available on his site), in interviews (which are usually linked on the blog), in Q&As during signings, on various social media platforms, and written in personalized signed books. There's enough of it that an entire website Arcanum was created to catalogue everything, newer Cosmere fans often find themselves totally lost despite having read most or all of his published work. Unlike some other examples, Sanderson also puts a great deal of effort in ensuring his answers are consistent and accurate to both published and unpublished material, often electing not to answer a question if he's not 100% sure how something will work in future books.
  • Sir Terry Pratchett used to post regularly to the Usenet group alt.books.pratchett, giving Word of God on things like how Rincewind's age relates to how much time has passed since CoM, how many Patricians we've seen and how the clacks was constructed.
  • Jim Butcher has given so much Word of God over the years that it has been fan-dubbed the Word of Jim, most of which can be found on the Jim Butcher Forums. Interviews, convention panels, forum threads, you name it; if he says it, it gets written down as truth—even Twitter has been used to convey Word of Jim. There's so much Word of Jim there's even a board dedicated to archiving it.
  • Isaac Asimov used to tell a story about how he once got into an argument with a literary critic—who didn't know he was speaking with the author—about the meaning of one of his stories. At the end Asimov pulled out what he thought was his trump card: "I should know; I wrote it!" to which the critic replied "What's that got to do with it?" Asimov later turned this into a story in which William Shakespeare (brought forward in time) flunks a class in his works.
  • Anne McCaffrey, starting in the mid '90s, put out several Word of God proclamations regarding The Dragonriders of Pern series.
    • She responded personally to emails during the period from the early 90s through the very early 2000s, and the resulting canon arguments based on interpretations of her letters could get fierce. Now, people are more likely to just attribute things to Anne Science and move on, and in some cases even the books themselves aren't considered canon by many groups, especially those written by her son.
    • The most notable of her edicts was the one titled "Pern's Renewable Airforce". There were two versions of this, one from 1997, and an edited and slightly saner version which was propagated in 2000. The earlier version prompted many fan groups to suddenly require characters to adhere to rules regarding sexual orientation that in many ways made no sense, like all male green and blue riders suddenly having to be gay, and absolutely no lesbian or bisexual dragonriders, period. People who entered fandom before this point or through a group which never adopted these rules still largely think they're absolutely insane; people who started later tended to accept them more as a matter.
    • Then there was the tent peg, full sources for which are scarce on the web a decade and a half later, but the full thing was circulated around the same time as the original Renewable Airforce memo.
  • In the Wheel of Time book series, many fans speculated that Demandred was disguised as Mazrim Taim. This theory persisted until Robert Jordan himself discredited it. Seen here.
  • Tamora Pierce has done this on numerous occasions. The blog Words of Tamora Pierce has gathered numerous statements taken from forum discussions, con appearances, etcetera, although it's limited to the Tortall Universe and hasn't updated for a couple of years. You can also find her on Mark Reads under the username "scrivener212," every now and again.
  • Wildbow, author of the webserial Worm, often responds to comments on his chapters clarifying unresolved issues and even confirming or denying various theories. One commenter invented a villain called Genoscythe the Eye Raper as a joke, which became so popular that Wildbow himself officially used his word to announce that Genoscythe was canon, although he never appears in the series.
  • Jane Austen: If asked, Jane Austen would tell her family many little particulars about some of her characters. Most of it comes from her nephew's Memoir and one lesser known tradition is mentioned in Jane Austen: A Family Record by Austen-Leigh and Le Faye.
    • Sense and Sensibility: Miss Steele never succeeds in catching the Doctor. (Anne Steele is a not very pretty, rather vulgar woman, soon to be considered an Old Maid, who often talks about a certain Doctor as her beau.)
    • Emma:
      • Mr Woodhouse survives his daughter’s marriage, and keeps Emma and Mr Knightley from settling at Donwell for about two years (meaning he dies after two years after their wedding).
      • The letters placed by Frank Churchill before Jane Fairfax, which she swept away and refused to read, contained the word 'pardon'.
      • The delicate Jane Fairfax lives only another nine or ten years after her marriage to Frank Churchill.
    • Mansfield Park: The 'considerable sum' that Mrs. Norris gave to William Price was one pound. (Compare it to a more generous gift from his other aunt, Lady Bertram, who gave him 10 pounds, which would equal about £846 in the 21st century.)
    • Pride and Prejudice:
      • Mary Bennet, the plain middle sister among beauties, obtains nothing higher than one of her uncle Philip’s clerks (as opposed to Jane and Elizabeth, who lucked out and scored land-owning rich guys), but she is content to be considered a star in the society of Meryton.
      • Kitty Bennet marries a clergyman that lives near Pemberley.
    • The Watsons is an unfinished novel. The text usually includes a bit about how the story was supposed to end: "Mr Watson was soon to die; and Emma to become dependent for a home on her narrow-minded sister-in-law and brother. She was to decline an offer of marriage from Lord Osborne, and much of the interest of the tale was to arise from Lady Osborne's love for Mr Howard, and his counter affection for Emma, whom he was finally to marry."
  • On the official Franny K. Stein website, Jim Benton explains on the page showing the first drawing he made of the title character that she has purple hair because she's worked with so many strange chemicals.
  • Jeff VanderMeer, on his blogish site Borne Central strongly alluded that in The Southern Reach Trilogy, Lowry came back from the first expedition into Area X with "special knowledge used to enhance conditioning and hypnotic effect beyond what is possible in the here-and-now'". He indicates there are a few hints of this in the books.
  • J. Eifie Nichols, creator of The Radiant Dawn, is a Troper, and sometimes adds Word of God entries to This Very Wiki.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien has had much of what fans know of his legendarium added to by the publication of his essays and notes, many of which were published in The History of Middle-earth, as well as the later publication of many of his private correspondences with friends and colleagues about various parts of his mythology. In the letters Tolkien also often gives The Shrug of God on some issues, with claims that things might be true, or he doesn't know for sure what happened.

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If you know when or where this was said, please add that information and move the example to the section above.

  • The Dresden Files:
    • "Justin's dead! D-E-D dead!", frequent reply of the author to fan theories that Harry Dresden's Evil Mentor (whom, canonically, Harry burned to death) may somehow still be alive, and involved in the events of the various novels (this was eventually confirmed to be the case).
    • According to Word Of Jim, one of "Gentleman" Jonny Marcone's bodyguards Cujo Hendricks, believed by Harry Dresden to be a dumb thug, is actually working on his Doctorate and quotes classic literature when he disagrees with his employer. In the Marcone PoV story "Even Hand", Cujo allegedly shows what's Beneath the Mask.
    • This is a link to a guide to most of the Words of Jim.
  • Warrior Cats: Though it's only hinted at in the actual books, Word Of God has revealed that Cinderpelt and Firestar is a canon pairing... sort of. Firestar, being a complete idiot when it comes to she-cats, still thinks he and Cinderpelt were "Just Friends". The author(s) often give out Word Of God statements. Though many questions are answered with a "why, I can't tell you that" response, fans have learned such things as Firestar and Scourge being half-brothers and Leopardstar was in love with Tigerstar.
  • In the Dragonlance series of books, it is rumored, debated, and shot down by a character, that Usha is Raistlin's daughter. The books never revealed the truth in certain terms however, and debate among readers raged for years until the authors, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman answered the question definitively: That she is not Raistlin's daughter.
  • The creator of The Twilight Saga stated that the reason why Jacob was so fixated on Bella up until Renesmee's birth was because he sensed the child's egg inside her mother, even before she was conceived. Squick.
  • Tom Angleberger, author of the Origami Yoda series, has confirmed that his characters Dwight and Harvey both have Asperger Syndrome.
  • The page for Destined to Lead has creator statements all over it. The author of the series is a frequent editor. Sometimes she posts tropes that will apply to future books before she publishes them, just so she won't forget!