I’m sure we all share the same problem. Sometimes what we write just doesn’t appeal to some readers. And what do we do? We can’t please everything but is there a solution to balancing what we want to write, with what some readers want to read. I’ll address each problem I face personally, and I’d love to hear if anyone else has the same problem.
LACK OF ‘ACTION’
I cannot write fantasy, or sci-fi or big explosive fight scenes. Why is that? Because I don’t necessarily read it. I have read Harry Potter and yes I loved it, but not because of the genre, because of the story. There are some people that admire Tolkien or only want to have action scenes or explosions, or something like that.
It would not be good for me to write a genre I can’t really appreciate. I pick stories based on the themes and the story. I picked up a paranormal drama because I enjoyed the blurb and it was a good read. If I judged it by the genre, I may have dismissed it. Though I must admit that the reader was not my ideal reader, but it was sad hearing them say that they didn’t like it because ‘nothing happened’.
The story in question isn’t about the action, isn’t about explosions but how the characters deal with it. May I bring your attention to this review, which is from my ideal reader.
A serious, yet entertaining short story. It’s simple and there aren’t any ‘breaking news’ events taking place, and somehow that’s a really good thing. This book is about life, and real life at that. That’s why I really enjoyed every page. It’s hard to explain, but the way this story is written made me feel strangely at peace with myself
And back on point. Things may not ‘happen’ in this story, but the focus is how the characters deal with everything. This is the main point of the story, how the characters handle the new revelations and the family dynamics.
I know some people who don’t like swearing and have told me before, but I stand by my argument that if my characters swear, I won’t change it. As I write, my characters naturally build themselves up to become something I could never have planned.
If my character don’t naturally swear, I won’t put the words in their mouths. There are some characters like Sean from Tiptoe that naturally swear. His point of view wouldn’t be as authentic, as realistic if he didn’t. If I limit my characters in the creative process, then they will fall flat. The biggest killer for me in books are characters that fall flat, and characters that I cannot relate to. There is always something extra in the way characters are built.
With regards to Disenchanted, Sara doesn’t like swearing. Had I made her swear, she would fall flat. If I removed Sean’s swearing, then he would fall flat. It’s a tricky subject and I was been nervous about this for a while. I remember reading something about swearing in Stephen King’s On Writing which basically says
… if you’re a writer and you change the way characters talk out of fear for the morality police, you’re breaking the first rule of writing and that is to be honest.
This is the main reason I refuse to change my writing for those readers. If said person says ‘I can’t read this because I don’t like swearing’ then so be it. My work may not appeal to everyone. My work may put people off – but at the end of the day, just because you don’t like swearing doesn’t mean people don’t do it. Why should I limit my work, be dissatisfied with it, for one readers opinion? You can’t please everyone but the most important people to please is yourself.
This is no surprise. I like themes that challenge me as a writer, a reader, and a person. If I don’t challenge my characters and myself then I am failing, in my opinion.
Tiptoe focuses on domestic violence and the question of emotional vs physical affair. People don’t always understand the reality of domestic violence whether it’s emotional or physical. While I may not have been physically abused, I am familiar with the mentality that comes with people in this situation. When I wrote the story, I connected with Addison to focus on those emotions that are often ignored. Yes, it’s easy to say ‘just leave’ but what if you can’t? A person’s response varies per example.
Like Addison, I expect to be let down. I expect to be unappreciated. I work hard in everything that I do and there will always be somebody ready to put you down. What can you do? You either walk away or you stay. Sometimes you know something is wrong and you should walk away, but you can’t. Why? Because sometimes being alone is worse than being unhappy in love. Sometimes we’ve so used to being treated badly that we expect it. You never know the full story until you’ve truly experienced it. Even if it’s not in real life, and through fiction, it’s important for me to focus on these things.
I am interested in these story lines because it tests me as a person, and a writer. I always put myself in difficult situations with my characters because it’s the only way we learn. I write the stories I’d like to read. I’ve learned a lot through my characters and whether conscious or not, I put a lot of myself into my characters.
If I’m not honest with my work, how can I expect anyone else to understand, relate or enjoy my stories? This, I feel is the most important rule that every writer should follow. Ignore the standard ‘rules’ some people shove down your throat. The main one? Be honest in your work.
What problems have you faced as writers or readers? What things have you read in people’s work that you didn’t like? Share your experiences with me!
- Writing Uncomfortable Scenes (calliehunter.wordpress.com)
- Writing advice: Personal quirks and preferences are not “rules” (ericjohnbaker.wordpress.com)
- Plotting… I’m a writer it’s what I (should probably) do (mollymortensen.wordpress.com)
- Who Would You Like To Write Like? (jameswilliaml.com)
- Michael Baron: Writing for the audience in your head (thestoryplantblog.com)
- How to Juggle Life & Writing (jinapherjhoffman.wordpress.com)
- Writing a compelling lead (southernmissnews.wordpress.com)