othereyes: (fic-lie)
[personal profile] othereyes
Today I'm having yet another self-confirming "you need to write novel-length literary fiction that confronts the disaffected, alienated, and estranged aspects of (post)modern life and how people cope or fail to cope with it, so just stop fussing with ideas that try to mold themselves into popular genres that all of your friends read because you're mashing a square peg into a round hole every time you try. So stop. Just stop."

I know this sounds sort of stupid, but, realizing that many, most, or all of my friends and family might NOT be my story audience is, probably, the most important realization evah.

So, let me state this bluntly:

1. Girlfriends should go write their own stories, not mine.

More than once I've made the mistake of trying out my early story ideas with friends and asking for their opinion, and, in return, they tell me about the story they want to read, which looks nothing like the story I was thinking about writing. 

Let me make clear that this is NOT about concrit. I've received fantastic concrit for early phase ideas from people who *also* write and who know how to concrit the *idea* that is on the table. Instead, what I'm referring to in point #1 is the kind of feedback that is all about what a friend thinks would make my story sooooo much better, where "sooooo much better" really means me writing the story that they want to read because it confirms their personal views or dreams. 

Good concrit: How do you plan to have that ambiguous ending with that nasty little twist make the reader feel satisfied that the story delivered an ending rather than a cop-out? Any ideas on foreshadowing the ending with just a hint that things really aren't as they seem? Maybe a frame story works here? Have you ever read (insert similar story here)? 

Problematic semi-concrit: Oh, that ending is too depressing. Don't you think the female lead deserves a happy ending? After all, she worked so hard at -----, which means she really should be rewarded for it, don't you think?   

Problematic non-concrit: You know what would be awesome?  If the female lead was just like my little sister and then, during the climax -- no, earlier, like by the end of chapter 2 -- she realizes that the book she found in the trunk at the auction is really the diary her great grandmother wrote during her trek across Russia, and ... (insert entirely new subplot here) ... And then the diary happens to have magical properties and ... (insert entirely new main plot here) ... And so, like, this whole novel has the potential of being an awesome Urban Fantasy sort of like (insert friend's fave author here). 

2. Mothers can indeed be anti-helpful.

For years and years, my mother has expressed various shades of disgust or derision for most artistic ideas I've had. Let's be honest here: her long standing pattern of anti-cheerleading and verbal beat downs in response to how I see the world and how I define my own personal and professional success is indicative of something that has little to do with the subject matter of my story brain. Or, something that has *everything* to do with the subject matter of my story brain. My story brain just might touch too closely on a few of her personal places of fear. Thus, mothers can indeed be anti-helpful.         

3. Just because we like a lot of the same books and movies doesn't mean you'll like what I write.

Yes, we go out for beer together. Yes, we see the same movies on Friday night. Yes,  we typically agree about how much we liked or disliked the movie we just saw and we share these agreements when we go out for a post-movie late night snack. Yes, we recommend and lend books to each other. Yes, we have a good sense of each others' tastes. No, you just might not be my audience. (When we all get over this ('we' mostly, but not entirely, meaning 'me'), we'll be much happier for it, because, yes, indeed, some aspects of my subject matter may squick you or leave you feeling vaguely unsettled because, because, because.)

4. Being firm with myself.

I fully realize that certain kinds of feel-good adventures and romances and fantasies will always draw a large audience who is looking for an enjoyable escape. I acknowledge this and I enjoy many of those escapes too.

But I think it is also important for me to stand firm with myself about not promising to provide those kinds of stories.

I learned more than I ever imagined I would about writing, audience expectations, and genre by spending the past 3 years writing fanfic in a slightly oddball fandom. The two most important things I learned are:

* Honor fickle muses and write the stories that insist on being written, even when (and especially when) those stories just sort of pop out of nowhere.
* Somewhere, there is an audience for just about anything.


Date: 2010-05-05 05:10 am (UTC)
pendency: dog (Default)
From: [personal profile] pendency
+1, thematically speaking!

The problematic non-crit sounds like what I do when engaging in RP, which why I don't try to RP anymore. My fun is not other ppls fun. *cringe*

The semi-concrit is an interesting one, as depending on who your target audience is, that could be worthwhile concrit or not-helpful concrit at all.

I'm glad you think the reccing of other similar books is useful. I tend to default to that when we've had our conversations about structuring/theming, and wondered whether it was distracting or helpful. I suppose it depends on how relevant the book is?


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