Writers Anonymous
Writers, come in. Talk about your stories, problems, any advice you need, critique, etc. You don't have to be good, you just need to want to write! Fanfic or original fic writers, all are welcome. Read the rules before posting or risk Rhea's displeasure.
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Corinne Tate

Okay, I will preface this by saying this is something I'm running up against on fictionpress, and maybe I'm overreacting. I'm 32 chapters into an original romance there, and I set it up from a male POV, and he had a choice between two women. Unfortunately, it wasn't that straight forward, and I decided to throw in some personal issues, and growth in the characters, and now I'm faced with the problem that the readers like the woman who didn't get the rose, so to speak. I made two good and complicated characters, and they decided they liked the pretty one better -- grrr.

The thing is, it's part of the plot I conceived from the beginning, that he would work so hard to win this girl of his dreams, but then find out he didn't really want her and they had nothing in common. But the readers are totally sold on her! I feel like I'm fighting that old trope of opposites attracting; but I didn't set out to write that story. One reader complained that they'd read my reviews and they spoiled it for her -- told her that her horse didn't win.

I just read one review that told me my story has gone to crap. They claimed that the first chapter was beautifully written, and it went downhill from there. But for at least the first six chapters, the story had no plot, and it was almost pure smut! I want to ask the reviewer what the heck they're smoking! They even went so far as to say it looked as if I tried to write my own version of Fifty Shades, but failed miserably. Hello? Heaven help me if that's the new benchmark.

I'm going to leave the gutless anonymous reviews stand. But I really want to question them on what they mean, when they say my writing went down hill. Why take an unspecified swipe at the writing, just because you don't like the plot? Or maybe it's that it HAS a plot that they don't like.

Sadly, I know I could twist the plot and give them what they want. I am tempted, as I'm seeing so many complaints. But it's MY story dag gammit! And it's free, so they should just step off!

It's times like this, that I just want to stop updating, and only send new chapters to those who have enjoyed the story.

Okay.... rant over. I feel better. Next!

6/26/2012 . Edited 6/28/2012 #1

I can feel your pain to a point on this one. As you know I'm in story #8 of my Dukes of Hazzard series and it seems odd that readers can turn on you after they've read along with you for so long but that just seems to be how the lot of them are for the most part. I sometimes want to say, "This ain't American Idol. You can't choose who gets booted off." Humm... perhaps you could use that. LOL! Or that could be worked into a story idea...DANGED PLOT BUNNIES! :D Write the story that you set out to write and if others won't read it then who cares. I know we all care if someone likes our stories but the most important thing is that WE like our stories. Hang in there, Corinne.

6/26/2012 #2

Sounds like you set out to break a trope, and you're getting comments from people who didn't want to see it broken.

It happens. I've had "you ruined it" comments from people who expected my take on what was wrong with a particular canon character (in canon, we never find out, though it's obvious he's sick) to be something huge and traumatic. I made it migraine. They didn't think it was heroic enough. To me, that was the point.

Similarly, I had the lead male character acknowledge that he has feelings for the lead female character at a point where he actually could do so, and all the shippers went "ooh, you're putting them together!" Um, no, he's her commanding officer. Then I get "whaddaya mean that's it and they're not going out now?"

All you can really do is consider what they said. Do you think your writing went downhill? If not, then ignore the comment. I mean, do consider it. It's possible that it did. You can't assume that someone said that because they don't like the way the plot's going. But don't go beyond considering it.

6/27/2012 #3
Corinne Tate

Thank you JadedPhoenixBurning, (stepping back from ledge) I really needed to hear that.

Maybe this is another argument for less interaction between readers and writers. I mean I love reviews, but could they please stick to a review and stop trying to rewrite my story? I like that American Idol comment. But I think I'm going to try real hard not to respond to the nameless critics, and maybe they'll grow a spine before they click on my next chapter.

Do readers seriously want to read predictable stories? If I followed with predictable, he would fall in love with the perfect, beautiful girl he's been chasing, and it would magically fix all their differences. (Yawn) Wake me up when it's over, please!

6/27/2012 #4

Do readers seriously want to read predictable stories?

To answer your question, by looking at my two fandoms, apparently so. In the Dukes of Hazzard the Duke Boys are supposed to fall for the strange new woman that moved to town at first sight, they are supposed to get into a huge argument over the lady in question and Daisy and Enos are a couple and don't you dare split them up. In Sailor Moon everyone wants a particular pairing and story-line as well with very little wiggle room for originality.

Personally, I like matching folks up that at first glance you wouldn't picture together. I like the opposites attracting to a point as long as there seems to be a turning point in a relationship that would cause the two to look at one another with different eyes. I never like the line where character A looked at character B and realized that they never saw them for the person that they always been. Boom, with that sudden realization character A is head over heels with character B and couldn't imagine life without the other.

6/27/2012 #5

Do readers seriously want to read predictable stories?

Agreeing with Phoenix here, yes they do. People go crazy over this in my main fandoms. In Pokemon, people get pissed if Ash doesn't fall in love with May. I once read a great story where he falls in love with his childhood friend. It was well written, well plotted and it took some time to flesh out, not love at first sight. What happened? Half the readers left. The other half either wanted that or didn't give a crap about which chick he got and wanted the high-octane battles to continue(A.K.A. Me). But the romance was actually quite good. The author got flamed a lot though. I was actually tempted to leave a review saying "F*** OFF FLAMERS, DON'T LIKE? DON'T READ! THIS IS HER STORY! AND IT'S BETTER THAN ALL YOUR CR*P"

I avoid most of these problems by not writing romance. Simple.

6/27/2012 . Edited 6/27/2012 #6
Corinne Tate

I like the way you think Cathrl. Everyone wants Earth-shattering and explosive, but sometimes it just doesn't work out that way. I bet even after you revealed that the character had migraines, some still insisted it was a brain tumor. I have no idea why everyone feels they have to play matchmaker in every story.

I think it comes from being a mature adult, among a lot of twenty-something readers. Once you've lived a while, you realize that real life doesn't just slap two cute people together and they magically fall in love forever. Real life comes with complications, and it really does matter than you've got a little bit in common with someone, aside from looking good together. In real life, commanding officers don't go out with their underlings -- unless they want to end their career. And in real life, some choose military service as a life-long career, and aren't in it just to meet babes.

I looked back at my first chapter, and aside from the sex, there was a lot of imagery. I used it to introduce the character, and show the way his mind works. maybe it did change as the story progressed, but it didn't just drop off after chapter one. I had to tone it down a little, in favor of moving the story forward. But like they say, you can't please everyone.

JadedPhoenixBuring, I do all I can not to write cliche's. I like writing the unlikely pairing, but there's gotta be some substance there, not just something based on looks or a big misunderstanding. I also don't like that "suddenly in love" ....hmm...is crap too harsh a word? It seems the cheesy Harlequin romance novel is alive and well, and living in fan fiction! And on fiction press if my reviews are any indication. Maybe I should change the genre from romance to general.

6/27/2012 #7
Lord Kelvin

Oh, wow, you have reviewers on FP and are unhappy. That place has skewed readership - every second fic has no reviews, but a portion has such concentrated popularity it would bring FFN's top stories to shame.

Sadly, I know I could twist the plot and give them what they want. I am tempted, as I'm seeing so many complaints. But it's MY story dag gammit! And it's free, so they should just step off!

There's nothing wrong in being flexible and letting your readers enjoy the story even more. You can write whatever you like, but you have rules of engagement when you actually post on that review-enriched website.

But for at least the first six chapters, the story had no plot, and it was almost pure smut!

That is an error on your end. You have the wrong crowd hooked and going against their wishes will rattle them up further. Though, it is curious nobody reported the 'pure' smut.

6/27/2012 #8

I have to agree that I HATE cliches. There are a few that are "Canon" in the Dukes or more like "Fanon" since the fans seem to think that if Luke was in a coma in ONE episode that ALL of their stories requires him to have a stupid accident at least once so that he is hanging to life by a thread. I hate the "Luke must suffer" stories and if the summary even hints at it I just scroll on by.

True I did pair off the Dukes but with both fellas it was with someone that they knew for a long time and the emotions just snuck up on them. NO LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT! UGH I hate the concept in any form since I have friends that believe in that and have gone from one relationship to another because they are expecting that Harlequin romance feeling and give up when they see that real life requires work.

6/27/2012 . Edited 6/27/2012 #9

There are a few that are "Canon" in the Dukes or more like "Fanon" since the fans seem to think that if Luke was in a coma in ONE episode that ALL of their stories requires him to have a stupid accident at least once so that he is hanging to life by a thread. I had the "Luke must suffer" stories and if the summary even hints at it I just scroll on by.

Oh that's funny Jaded that they do that. I think I know why- maybe it is the Bo fangirls who want to make Luke the Chew Toy and get him out of the picture so they can concentrate on Bo's pure awesomeness and he can be a Gary Stu and do all the heroic things by himself. :) I like both of them, but it always seemed like Bo was the special favorite for most fans, chalk it up to John Schneider and his singing.

Corrine- if I read your story I would be rooting for the girl that you want him paired up with. I like it when the man goes for the girl with the brains instead of the b*** (of course I'm grasping at straws here but that is what I am guessing) And why would readers want him to pick the more beautiful one? Most female readers (me included) like it when the hero falls in love with a heroine for other reasons besides her T&A. I wonder who is reading that. It is all subjective- different readers like different things.

6/27/2012 . Edited 6/27/2012 #10
Corinne Tate

@ Lord Kelvin, It always surprises me, that as inflexible as you are on the site rules, you are so in favor of bending to the readers' wishes.

Considering the dearth of reviews on fictionpress, you can understand why I take the few I receive so seriously. However, I don't think pandering to the readers is the way I want to become a better writer. Would that not be making my story interactive?

I might consider their points more valid, if they were reviewing a finished piece, but they are not. Weighing in before the climax of the story, to tell me how it should go -- insisting how it should go -- calls into question my ability as the writer of my own story. It's insulting.

There are things yet to happen in the story, which would make one choice emerge as the better of the two, but since I have not yet written it, they assume it cannot exist. It is in my notes, and has been from the beginning. Which is what bugs me the most; I have an actual PLAN of where this story is going, and these short-sighted reviewers are upset because my plan differs from their plan. If they want to critique this at the end, and tell me I made the wrong choice, then that's fine. But don't ask me to turn the plane around mid-flight.

As to the smut, fictionpress is a bit more liberal, as it doesn't attract so many young readers and writers, nor does it have an organized user police force at work. I've read more smut on fictionpress than any other type of writing, as it's quite prevalent. I'm sure my story could be reported, but then they'd likely have to keep reporting until a huge number of stories are gone -- and I imagine a lot of the readers and writers would disappear as well. I may be wrong, but I believe a war on MA stories on fictionpress would be the death knell of the site, considering the average age of users there seems to be twenty-something.

The smut I've read there, is typically written by adults, for adults, and it is surprisingly well written. Smut is just a catch-all word for graphic sex, and it can be in a story for any number of reasons. It is in my story, because that's just how the character thinks and operates. I wrote it that way, to illustrate how shallow his glamorous lifestyle is, compared to what I'd present later in the story.

As to the skewed readership, maybe you could tell me, what happened on that site, say two or three years ago? From what I can see, it was a much more active site, but then dropped off dramatically. This year the glitches and broken features were so bad, I saw an even greater reduction. Just curious.

6/27/2012 #11
Lord Kelvin

you are so in favor of bending to the readers' wishes.

I'm just keen on voicing an alternative POV. Writers are represented very well here and in other major forums, but readers get to knuckle under by default. However, some readers may choose not to, which is where the real fun begins.

I might consider their points more valid, if they were reviewing a finished piece, but they are not.

Personally, I love reviewing a work in progress. This means my input may lead to the improvement of what is to come, not just the past. In addition, the next chapter is not set in stone, so the author is more tolerant to the idea of change. A greater possibility to consider the alternatives in a chain of plot points.

tell me how it should go -- insisting how it should go -- calls into question my ability as the writer of my own story. It's insulting.

The person in question has obviously developed a bond with the story, which should be flattering, not insulting. They are merely expressing the kind of urgent care for the things they admire in your work the way they can. Your fans will identify with certain characters, which can make certain negative events difficult to orchestrate in full force. You would be killing your fans, metaphorically.

these short-sighted reviewers are upset because my plan differs from their plan.

I'd call you short-sighted for saying the above. Someone could inform your audience that you consider them not worthy. The result can get ugly really fast...and the audience won't be a problem. No more audience, ha-ha.

I've read more smut on fictionpress than any other type of writing, as it's quite prevalent.

That would be alarming, but I am aware you don't read things in every category. Regardless, someone told me that they did the purgey-wurge on FP as well. Not sure if that's true. FP is a backyard compared to FFN.

I believe a war on MA stories on fictionpress would be the death knell of the site

Let me check the haiku section. Yep, the haiku are safe. No exaggerations, please. It's not like smut has any ads, anyway. All cost and no profit~

what happened on that site, say two or three years ago? From what I can see, it was a much more active site, but then dropped off dramatically

Two years ago? Hah, that's when I posted a story there. Seriously speaking, though: crises, budget and curd shortening, forum purge on FFN to save bandwidth and FP's backyard status. Xing has done some cost cutting with the server mergers, so it should be better now. Looking at traffic figures from free sources, I don't see any unusual decreases.

6/27/2012 #12
Corinne Tate

Hmm... why would someone want to chime in on a work in progress, as interactive isn't allowed -- by the rules. And yes, I'm teasing here, I really do get it. I acknowledge that in writing, you have to dance with the readers; but I still insist that I lead.

I don't mind readers who are invested in the story and want to see it go a certain way. What I object to, is those who tell me if it does not go a certain way, they won't read any further. They are free to do as they choose, but in telling me this in a "review," it makes it seem that they believe I would be controlled by their displeasure. I don't write interactive, and I don't intend to start now.

When I call them short-sighted, I mean that I am privy to my notes, outline, and plan, and they are not. I'm holding the binoculars, while they're just guessing at what's ahead.

As far as the whole rating, M vs MA, smut, purgey-wurge thing, I'm not here to argue one way or another. I only joined one forum there, and the stories I've read by those members seem to be fairly explicit. When I scan through what readers have on their favorites lists, they tend to be M rated stories leaning toward MA. My evidence is only anecdotal, so I'm sure the haiku's are fine.

I want to say, that I will take a real review seriously, and I will closely examine a specific criticism on my writing. But the plot of the story is not up for debate, unless something is wildly out of character or improbable. I'm not the only one who's dealing with the readers trying to force a writer to change their concept. It seems to happen even in those stories where romance is never intended.

Thanks for answering each point. In forcing me to defend my position, you've helped me to know I don't have to bow to the readers.

6/27/2012 #13

Not sure how helpful it is, but it is, I think, a matter of finding the balance between listening and staying true to your vision. Not everyone will like everything, and that is also a lesson to learn. It don't mean that either reader or author is wrong, just that they have different interests, and different ways of looking at it.

I became aware of this myself a late night talking to a couple of visiting story-tellers. Both experienced (much more than me) and very good (more than me, at the very least at that time, and probably now as well), and I was luck enough that they wanted to hear the story I was working on at the time-- and willing to give me feed-back.

One of the things they criticized, was the version of the story I had chosen to tell. This was the story of the Wedding of sir Gawain and dame Ragnelle (yes, I got my nick from it, I love the story), and it has several versions. One of them is in Chaucer, where the knight is unnamed and it begins with the knight raping a woman. He then has to find the answer to the question "What do women want?", or be executed. All the versions have this question, in some form or another, as the main story-arch, but in all the others, there are no r***, king Arthur is the one that has to find the answer, and sir Gawain is the knight who helps him.

The other story-tellers, both men, meant Chaucer's version was the best: there the knight had to undergo a change, and grow etc etc. This theme is not present in the other versions. And in some ways they were right. Gawain is the perfect knight in the other stories, stepping in to save his king and so on.

But, I was not telling Gawain's story. I am a woman, and I was telling Ragnelle's story, which is the story of a woman cursed, and who fights to lift that curse. It could only be lifted by "the perfect knight", so she has to find, and win, that knight. And this story does not work if I have a flawed knight that needs to be redeemed. It would, at best, be an irrelevant distraction.

That does not mean that the critique was not relevant, or that the other story was not worth telling. It was just not the story I wanted and needed to tell.

In this case, the feed-back made me realize what the story I wanted to tell, was. And the answer was another than what others might have chosen. So I learned a lot from it about when I should not just do as my teachers/reviewers/critics tell me.

But, that does not mean that my choice always will be the best. Nor that I should not listen when someone tells me something does not work. Those two men were right in that something in my story-telling did not work, and I needed to make changes so that it would work. Their solution was just not the right one for me.

I have, over the years, become more fond of clich├ęs. And to the special kind of enjoyment that comes with reading something known. If done well, I love waiting for that turn I know will be there, anticipating it and feeling joy when my prediction turns out to be right.

Done badly, I hate the same thing.

So, I will not say fulfilling readers' expectations are a bad thing, nor that readers are wrong in feeling disappointed if the story takes a turn that feels wrong to them. It is usually a sign that something is lacking, but the lack might not be what the reader think it is.

And that, I think, is where we should not, as writers, just follow any critique. I have not read your story, Corrine, so I can't say whether it applies or not, but the fault might not be in which woman the man chooses, though some of the readers might think so. It might be in the characterization of the women. Or the man. Or the structuring of the plot, the POV, and a number of other things.

So, I tend to take the stand that the readers usually are right about feeling unease-- it means something is off (unless they hate the genre, or some other, outward, thing). Their unease, or dissatisfaction, is a symptom that something is wrong. But they are much more rarely right about the cause. I might think that the reason I dislike a scene is the florid descriptions. It might not be the descriptions at all, though. It might be the POV, and the author would see that because she would know what her intentions and plans with the story, and the scene, is. And I would not know those intentions and plans. I would only sense something off.

6/27/2012 #14
Corinne Tate

That was so beautifully said and illustrated Ragnelle.

That something is "off" is absolutely true. It's what I've been leading up to all along. My main character has some major issues he has to confront, and truly the choice of which woman will keep his interest is mostly immaterial. I've only just begun to confront his issues, and I have a reviewer or two who have followed along and they see his necessary growth. They have not become so invested in his choice that they missed this element.

I guess I was just becoming used to either no reviews, or positive ones, and the sudden hate caught me off guard. I do take my reviews seriously, even if they are harsh, cowardly, and anonymous. I think what I plan to do, is just continue writing the story I set out to write. I have planned a major rewrite for this story, as it's one I was considering for e-publishing, just to get my feet wet. When I do the rewrite, I'll take a closer look at what made chapter one shine for the reviewer, and see if it really did change. I'm sure a little more distance will give me a better perspective.

Thanks everyone. I'm going to turn this thread over to anyone else with fan hate issues.

6/27/2012 #15
Sassy Lil Scorpio

You can't make everyone happy. That's what I've learned. As the writer, your satisfaction with the story is paramount. Of course, it's understandable that you are concerned that some readers don't like your take on the story or the direction it's heading in. You can consider what they say, but in the end, stay true to your vision. If you rewrite your story to please them, it may move you further away from the vision. I know for one of my stories....I've seen comments or even noticed lack of comments that made me wonder if the readers weren't happy with how I wrapped everything up. It bothers me on some level, because I'd like to know what they honestly think (even if it hurts or if I disagree with it). At the same time..it is my story, I had a vision when I wrote it, and I kept true to it. I'm satisfied with what I wrote. Just remember that while, we, as writers, have a vision of our story, at times, it will be different from the readers...and that is okay.

6/27/2012 #16
Corinne Tate

We all want to know what readers really think, but I believe most readers don't understand we want the details. Don't just tell me my story is a joke, tell me where it specifically fails. I can respect a negative review that says, "You started with such strong imagery in the first chapter, but then you lost it in consecutive chapters. I keep hoping it will come back, but you've completely let me down on this level. You've taken something so promising and failed to live up to it. I suggest you go back and try to regain the edge you had , when I could feel the life and vibrancy of the characters." Then perhaps an example of what they liked would be nice. Instead they called it a joke. How can I respect a reviewer's opinion of what constitutes good writing, when they can't communicate clearly themselves?

Scorpio, one of the things I really wish, was that readers and reviewers were just a little more articulate. Does "Nice ending" mean they really liked it, or it left them cold? I've put it in my profile that I want honest reviews, but along with honesty I hope for details and specifics. I will work to improve with con/crit. In fact the reviewer who started me on this thread will make me take a closer look at the story, to see if they had a valid point.

But you're right, in the end we should stay true to our vision. I once changed a story at a reader's suggestion, and I've never been happy with it since.

6/27/2012 #17
Sassy Lil Scorpio

Corinne, I totally agree with you that reviewers should be detailed and honest in their reviews. It helps a lot. Making a general comment on how they don't like the direction a story is going isn't very helpful, and doesn't tell you what's wrong from their view. Whenever I have gotten certain reviews, always I was thankful for the review itself, but at times I'd be left wondering...what exactly did they like? Not like? Etc. In your case, the reviewer would've been more of a help to you if they explained what the "something so promising" was and explained why they felt let down, or what exactly it is that they didn't like.

I'll give you an example. Someone wrote that they loved my story...what they liked, as well as what they didn't like. When the reviewer wrote that "I don't see how Character A and Character B would've had these interactions" ...it made me wonder...well, what kind of interactions, did you, as the reader, imagine? Or, what would you have liked to have seen? I'm just curious. It is what it is though. If the person had left an email, I would've review replied to start a conversation...to thank them for their thoughts and also explore their point of view. But they didn't, so that's that.

I hate to say it, but it's FFN, and you will find a very small amount of reviewers who will leave you the reviews you are looking for. I've learned to leave the reviews that I like to get: detailed ones that explain what I liked and why, and also some suggestions to improve--but not to alter the story to my taste.

I can tell you right now, on one long fanfic I was working on and recently completed posting (it's a trilogy), if I had taken certain reviews or comments to me really seriously to the point of altering my story, my story wouldn't exist as it is now. I mean, I do consider and appreciate reviewers' comments. Some are very helpful as I do have blind spots when writing. Other times, if I know the story wouldn't be the same if I totally altered it to the readers' liking. That's why I stay true to my vision.

Basically what I'm saying is, I'll add in something if I feel it will add to my story---and not take away from the story I want to tell. So stick to your vision...it's a shame that a change you made for a reader caused you to be unhappy with the story. Remember, it's YOUR story. Readers are allowed to have their opinion, but in the end it's your story. Stick with it. I'm sure J.K. Rowling and many other writers have to deal with this...with readers not liking or approving of their story or the direction it's going in...and they just have to put up with it, like we do, and in the end, stick with the vision they see for their writing.

6/27/2012 . Edited 6/27/2012 #18
Corinne Tate

Sassy, that was a comment I created myself to illustrate a point. What the reviewer actually said was much ruder, and they called my story a joke. There were no specific comments, except that they liked chapter one. The review was left on chapter 23, even though I'm on chapter 32. So... wonder why they read so far if they felt 22 chapters were a joke?

I did rewrite a chapter once, on the basis of one review. She'd followed my story and reviewed every chapter with long, detailed reviews that I salivated over. But she hit one chapter, and her comments were honest. "I'm just not feeling it this time. Every chapter up til now I've felt like I was right there with you, but there's just something missing here..." She went on to explain her misgivings, as well as point out spelling and punctuation errors while she was at it. I PM'd back to explain why I'd written it that way, and in the explaining, I discovered what was missing. She was right, and I hadn't gone far enough in the writing, and it did show a lack. I rewrote the chapter and we were both happy.

But most readers would just stop reading, rather than tell me. If it's something in the writing, I really want to know, so I might fix it. If it's something in the concept or plot, then... I sort of feel that's more sacred territory. Unfortunately, most want to comment on the plot and premise, and not on the writing. You can tell me my baby needs a diaper change, but you can't tell me she's ugly!

6/27/2012 #19

I once changed a story at a reader's suggestion, and I've never been happy with it since.

It's swings and roundabouts. The story I'm proudest of is the only one I've ever completely restarted from scratch, after both my beta-readers told me it didn't work. They were right.

But what I changed wasn't the concept, it was the execution. I changed it from the story being someone's confession, to it being them writing the confession.

(Confession in the "guilty of a crime" sense, not the religious sense. It's my story which gets the least hits - most months it gets none - and I do wonder if that's because people are put off by the title, which is "Confession".)

6/27/2012 #20
Actually, you CAN say if someone's baby is ugly, but that's more on a matter of opinion. What you CAN'T tell someone is how to raise their child, as I think that's more of a matter of fact. Same with a story. You may not have to LIKE my story, but you can't tell me how to write it. I think that was your point lol.
6/28/2012 #21
Corinne Tate

Are you sayin my baby's ugly!? (giggle)

Point taken. I do love my analogies.

6/28/2012 #22
Lord Kelvin

What you CAN'T tell someone is how to raise their child, as I think that's more of a matter of fact. Same with a story. You may not have to LIKE my story, but you can't tell me how to write it.

This is silly. Any reader can tell a writer how to write the story. Doesn't mean they always should. They are certainly more motivated to say something when the 'child' has fleas. Or they just inform the authorities.

I've seen stories where the author has made some ludicrous decisions. On top of that, they would complain about being the story not getting the attention it deserved etc. My take on such a situation is simple: which is more important, the audience or the text you've posted?

Thankfully, the audience is a priority more often. This gives us a clear direction and a result to strive for. If a reader is experienced in a certain fandom, he or she can suggest some very effective points to consider. Why not rewrite chapter one by adding X and dumping Y? It would double the review count~

In practice, if you are min-maxing, you should consider whether a decision that disappoints a Z percentage of the audience will have a long-term effect of pleasing Z + 1. When it's the opposite, the story is losing readers, and it is your fault. Who should have the burden of delivering such news to the writer?

6/28/2012 #23

To receive a good, detailed, negative review is almost a miracle. That's what I learned on FFN.

I am open to criticism and I am willing to do changes - I accept 99% of changes my beta suggests, because they make my story sound more natural. But if she, or anyone else, tried to make me change the core of the story, I'd refuse. I know what I want to write and I know why I want to write it. The readers can either accept the story as it is, or stop reading. As much as I love feedback, I'm not willing to sell my soul.

My main multichapter on FFN, is about the ex-assassin, with very traumatic past (in order to make him a cold hearted murderer, his Masters abused him physically, emotionally and sexually). The person who saves him - the mark he failed to kill - has also traumatic past, and, by canon, he's a member of inferior race (elves) and despised and feared group of people (mages). Right now, they know each other for six months. And people complain that they're not together yet and that the story is slow... while I in fact think it's too fast.

'You should stop writing romances if you can't write' (that was the nicest part of an anonymous flame I got), 'yes their past was bad but people cant stick to their pasts you must overcome it you know so they should get together quickly,' 'they are so cute together make them kiss!' and 'it's interesting but it's dragging forever skip unimportant stuff and get to the action between Zev and Air' are examples of PMs I get after every chapter (people in my fandom tend to write 'negative' stuff into PM, rather than reviews).

If I changed the story how these people want it, it would become a sugary soap opera, with the magical healing co... um, sex, and they could in fact be staying in one room, exchanging fluffy confessions of love, kissing and making love... with occassional glass of wine and a gurmet meal in between. :D I will not to that. And if it means I will lose those readers, all right. I'm fine with that. They obviously not my target group.

Every time I get such PM, I read again the reviews by my favourite reviewer, who always understands what I wanted to say. I love all the reviews, but I admit that after posting a new story or chapter, I'm anxious to hear her reaction. If she wouldn't get it, then I'd know something' wrong.

6/28/2012 #24

I've written stories and gotten responses with "Is this going to happen? I wish it would," or "Please make the paring A/B!" and to that I've sometimes had to say, "No, that's not going to happen. But please hang on a sec - I've got the story all planned out and I think you'll like the end." It works for me, but probably because I usually write humor and the fics are just a couple of chapters. Since I plan a lot of fics around the ending and the final jokes/punchlines, everything leads up to that and the response is usually, "OMG I didn't see that coming, but now that you've written it, I can't see it happening any other way."

I'm working on a longer serious fic right now, and it's not getting much of a response. I suppose some people might not like the way the story is going, but I'm just getting silence and a few positive reviews, so I'll continue to slog forth on that front. It's not that big of a deal for me if it turns out that people think the story's crap. I'm already my own worst critic.

6/28/2012 #25
Hamfast Gamgee

I must get lots of miracles!

6/28/2012 #26

I'm sorry that I haven't read every post here, so my opinion might have been stated before. I just saw the subject matter, and I have an opinion on it, so here goes.

Personally, I think even if many reviews say the story went down hill plot-wise, there are people who love it. As it was stated here, breaking a trope disappoints a lot of readers, but I also think it lifts the writer from the crowd of others. Distinguishing yourself such a way means there will be less readers, because you're not in the mainstream anymore. But I also think writing such a story or such a twist makes those people who still like it love it even more.

My personal experience for this is my work-in-progress original fantasy novel. Without advertising myself too much: it is dialog-heavy and also very description-heavy, and the story is moving very slowly, filled with scenes depicting the characters' everyday life in peace. They will get into danger, but that will be much later, the first let's say 300 pages is this. The point I wanted to make with this is: Not everyone liked it. In fact, I've probably gotten more feedback on it being too descriptive (I like writing a lot of gestures and faces in dialogues, I like long scenery descriptions and showing individual parts of a crowd for example), too slow (there are supper scenes going on for 25-30 pages at a time). But those who like this sort of style said they loved it and it was one of the greatest things they've read.

So what I'm trying to say is, yes, there is such a thing as writing for an audience. I myself don't consider myself a so-called Artist because I don't write for myself, if there was no audience I wouldn't write stories. But if you distinguish yourself and lose many readers that doesn't mean there won't be any readers left. You'll have a more defined reader base who will definitely remember your name and your story.

So as with any other situation, I'm all for keeping to your beliefs and plans. I say don't change a thing, go through with it as You intended to, and know that the people with (and sorry if it's offensive, but that's what i think) more intelligence and taste for stories will appreciate it. Those people can accept if a story goes different from what they wanted - it is called drama at times. Breaking the tropes and getting out of the mainstream is an admirable thing and it shows that the writer is trying to create something memorable.

That is what I think, but tell me if my logic is faulty.

6/28/2012 #27
That Way

To receive a good, detailed, negative review is almost a miracle. That's what I learned on FFN.

Haha, this so hard. I think I have one reviewer who leaves me reviews stating what he doesn't like about my story and then actually explains WHY he doesn't like them and makes suggestions on what (he thinks) would've been better. As a result, I've actually altered the ending of my fic...though since I'm planning a sequel, this isn't too big a deal for me.

Like others have said, subverting a trope or a reader's expectations can often lead to disappointment in your fanbase. But sometimes you have to do this to elevate your story to that next level.

I don't know...making smaller changes because of your readers can often be a good thing, if you think they actually make sense.The problem is that (in my experience) it's pretty unlikely to have readers/reviewers all agree on which changes would make the story better. Everyone has an opinion and it varies widely based on age, life experience, the fandom (or genre) and their prior experience in it, etc. Sometimes making a change is a riskier proposition than leaving things as-is because you don't know how many new people will be upset with the change.

But making a big, significant change because of a review or reviews that express dislike of the overall direction of the story...that's a risky move because you might end up unhappy with the result and then you're left writing a story you don't believe in and never wanted to write. And if THAT happens, surely your work will suffer and your readers will eventually notice and they'll be disappointed anyway.

6/29/2012 #28
Corinne Tate

When I started out writing my original stories, I wanted to confront some issues I have with the romance genre. I wish I didn't want to write romances, but that's where my muse always takes me, although I can write horror pretty well; I wonder if there's a connection? (evil grin)

I don't like all the tropes and cliche's in romance. I cut my teeth on Harlequin Romance, and I have a strong aversion to those things now. I really want to write the anti-romance in a way. I want to get rid of the pretty, young, rich people and all the blushing virgins. I want to write characters who live next door, not in Paris. I want to write about divorced women, and single dads, and out of work songwriters, and tattooed ex-gang members. I want them to have child support checks, mortgages, scars, stretch marks, and baggage.

But I want them to also have wit and spirit, and honor and dignity, even in the trailer park. I want them to still believe in love, and maybe be willing to give it one more try. My examples are Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt in "As Good as it Gets," or the romance in "Pay it Forward." Real people with real problems, who can still come together and fall in love. To me that would be more real than; "You had me at Hello."

6/29/2012 #29
Lord Kelvin

To receive a good, detailed, negative review is almost a miracle. That's what I learned on FFN.

Why wouldn't it be a miracle? Authors are ready to eat the reviewer just because of one negative detail. When the review is detailed as a whole, some people would rage to all their fans to get the critic off the site. Making the review 'good' in addition to being critical takes time, effort and experience. Quite a few teens won't get the experience because the raging writers will be too much. The adults won't have the time, and the ones that have both won't necessarily exert the effort.

Look at this thread. It does not increase the chance of said miracle. Unless, of course, you'd try to make one yourself. That is riskier than 'bending' to the will of one's audience. I hope the reasons are easy to work out, and I am inclined to lend an ear if someone requests a more private experience.

6/29/2012 #30
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