March 16, 2013 at 8:02 pm #217559Weird JimParticipantQuote:For me the advice that gets me is “Writers write.”
I think this probably originated as a jibe at those who claim to be writers, but who don’t write. I worked with someone at one time who was always on about this friend of his who was a writer, but he could never tell me what that writer had written. I also took an evening course from someone who told the class that writing letters made them writers, which, while quite true, was also quite untrue depending on what was meant by writer.
I also recall a book on writing by a published author wherein he complained that he couldn’t get his wife to understand that he was writing while staring out of the window.
I think that most people can tell a story. Think about the people you talk to who have a tale to tell — sort of gossip. Then there are those who can’t find anyone to listen. Often they go around talking to themselves.
I get the drift of what many of you are saying about writing for yourselves first, but taken to the extreme I see it as something like talking to yourself, aloud. Would not a better way of putting it be to write about what interests you. I put my book up on Smashwords free, not to get publicity, but because having written it, I wanted to have it read. The subject matter, partly autobiographical, interested me. How would a group of children look after a stray kitten when they were in foster homes in wartime conditions?
There is one thing though, when writing for a reader (should that be the choice made), it is not necessary to write for everybody. Catch the right readers and the crowd will follow. I very much believe that there is a way to write a best seller. However, it probably can’t be formulated.
(Make an ass of yourself and you could gather a crowd that way. 😆 )March 16, 2013 at 8:30 pm #217560
No, this isn’t a debate. That doesn’t mean one side can say ‘write only for readers’ and another side can’t say ‘that isn’t how I work.’
I think some people who look at the ‘write for yourself first’ is not seeing the full picture very clearly. This does not mean they don’t also write for readers, but rather that the first step is to make certain what they’re writing is something they would want to read. They focus on what makes a good story for them (and them does include me, by the way) before they start thinking about who else would enjoy the book and editing to make the work the best for that market.
This is simply a matter of approach and the truth is that if the book is good, you won’t know the difference.
Just because someone works differently and is enthusiastic about how they work, is not a reason to complain. You should complain if any other approach was deleted from the site.
J. A. Marlow is a selling author. She has a number of fans on the site and off and is doing pretty well by Indie standards. This means her approach is working for her and she has every reason to be enthusiastic about it. That doesn’t mean you have to work the way she does.
Everyone here (J. A. Marlow included) needs to remember that people approach writing in their own way. People should talk about their approach and let new writers see there are different ways. No approach is wrong except for the one that doesn’t get you the book you want.March 16, 2013 at 8:50 pm #217578
So, let’s look at this at the extreme point. Someone writes ONLY for himself.
How is that going to affect you? You’ll never see it. LOL This should be one of those ‘go for it, enjoy yourself’ things. What they are doing is never going to affect you, the market or any other reader.
There are extremes on every side. Some people think if they like what they wrote, it has to be crap. Others who think the acceptance of others is just another level of writing and some who think every word they put down is golden and can’t be touched.
You can’t reach the people at the extremes. But others should be open to how various people work and find what works best for them.March 16, 2013 at 9:01 pm #217583J.A. MarlowParticipant
As I said, “And yes, I’m completely aware that this probably now became one of those “writing advice I just don’t get” things.” No, it doesn’t work for everyone. Some need to view things from a different slant. Some need more external validation than others. Others need more personal satisfaction.
Either extreme typically won’t result in the book the writer wants, much less one a reader wants. I was not advocating extremes. To me, “The reader is everything” is one extreme.
The String Weavers, Salmon Run, Redpoint One series.
Writer alter-ego of Dreamers CoveMarch 16, 2013 at 9:09 pm #217585Linda AdamsParticipant
That was one of the problems I had with my former cowriter. He was always focused on making it marketable to readers — i.e., what would they like, would this phrase offend them. It was like he was afraid that if he had one line of dialogue or exposition that made a reader react badly, then there was a major problem with the story. It got very tiring fighting battles like this, because it always felt like he could never let the story be something that we liked first and then have it be for readers.March 16, 2013 at 9:17 pm #217546Linda AdamsParticipant
This is following along with something I’m having to do, and it’s for the reader. I’m very poor with details. I don’t really see them, and it’s frankly hard for me to even get any into the story. I’m not talking hair color and eye color, but the telling details that everyone always talks about. So on my revision, I’m having to go back over it six and seven times just to get the details into the story. That’s for the reader.March 16, 2013 at 9:29 pm #217586NPhoenixParticipant
I have seen that kind of obsession kill the creativity and ‘spark’ in people’s writing so many times it hurts. Which is why I so vehemently disagree with the idea of the reader being the end all and be all of why a writer writes.
People get so obsessed with getting it just right for this or that person be it a fellow writer, an agent or an editor or family member, that they lose the spark, the thing that makes them unique, and often they seem to lose the joy in writing.
One person upstream mentioned in the first draft they write for themselves and after that they fix for the reader or something like that (am in the middle of dinner don’t have time to search for the exact phrasing) and that, imo, is a good way of looking at things, it balances writing for you and writing something which portrays the tale you’re trying to tell. And still having fun writing. But that’s just me.March 16, 2013 at 11:56 pm #217587JuneDrexlerParticipant
Tacking this on NPhoenix’s post only because it’s the last in the list, not directly to her.
For me, as with so much in writing, this is a balancing act. On one hand, I need to be sure that the story I’m telling is one I can care about — that’s ‘for me’. But, I do want to communicate, so on that side I’m trying to write for readers too.
Some of this, I think, comes from a larger experience in the writing world. There are people (not saying here) who will tell you that you MUST write something for ‘the market’, that it must be chasing some sort of trend or what’s hot, and that this is ‘for readers’. These are the folks who say that you shouldn’t worry about what you like in a story, only about what’s selling.
I could never be one of those people. I have to care about the story I’m writing.
But, otoh, I don’t want to write only for ‘me’. I don’t want to write and then put the story in a drawer. I want people to read it. How to make that happen is something I have to work on. And working on it is a good thing, but only if I can do so without taking the story to a place where it no longer matters to me.
So, for me, balancing is the goal.
–JuneMarch 17, 2013 at 12:09 am #217419Samantha_KroeseParticipant
One also has to be careful how they decide to write for the readers/audience in my opinion.
When I put my first novel up for critique I was new to all of this and I really wanted to please my readers. I tried to please everyone and I ended up with a story that was no longer mine but it was written by committee almost. And it didn’t make sense any more. No one liked it and I personally hated it because I’d lost the story I wanted to write by trying to please other people. It was stuffed in a drawer and even though the original storyline I think is still good and I love it I would have to completely toss years of revisions and start over from scratch. I haven’t found the will to do that. So for me there’s definitely a point where write for the readers is extremely bad advice.
I do keep markets in mind. I know the trilogy I’m writing right now is probably going to only attract a small niche of readers. I’d be happy with that though. So I think you also need to decide how many readers it is important to you to attract. Since I’m all right with just a few and not planning to get rich off this trilogy it will stay mostly how I want it to be and I won’t worry so much about readers. I’m planning to Indy publish it. If I were trying to secure a place at a large publisher or if I wanted a large following I wouldn’t even be writing this trilogy I’d be writing something that is more acceptable to a larger audience.March 20, 2013 at 1:05 am #217420AmbermooreParticipant
First I’d like to apologetic, I didn’t mean to start a debate of this magnitude. It seems I, also, must clarify what I intended. For me very rarely have I been able to forget that, in the end, I am writing to communicate my ideas to someone else. It shapes, at some level, what I write from the word go. I understand that this is a different process than most people here follow. I wasn’t trying to convince anyone, I was simply attempting to explain my view.
I am a bard and a storyteller. It affects how I approach writing, and very often what advice (the topic of conversation) that is useful and not useful, and what I can offer others. My apologies for the confusion.March 20, 2013 at 4:13 am #217733
You don’t need to apologize. This is the way you work and as long as it really does work for you — you get what you want and you finish your work — then that’s good. That’s the way it should be.
As I pointed out, we all work in our own ways. For me, finding that right word is the one that works for me when I read the story and it invokes the feelings I want. I can’t know what some reader whom I don’t even know will think of the choice, so I always make certain I’m saying what I want.
If I tried to think about what someone else would read into everything I write, I’d have to start working on multiple personalities since that’s the only way I’d ever have a good chance at really understanding the mind of some other person.
The best I can do is to make certain the story is what I want and look for readers who like what I like to read. It seems to have worked. I’ve gotten some really nice reviews lately.March 20, 2013 at 4:40 pm #217421Wandering AuthorParticipant
I have my own way of working – I won’t elaborate, since I already have. And it isn’t something I’ll change lightly. I’d have to be convinced any change would be an actual improvement. But to even consider possible changes or tweaks, I have to understand how other processes work.
The only way I can do that is to read about other writers’ processes and how they work. And, somehow, without upsetting anyone, figure out how to question those parts that don’t make sense to me – not because they’re “wrong” or anyone else has an obligation to work in a way that makes sense to me, but because if it doesn’t make any sense to me, then there’s clearly something I still don’t understand. Only then, when I understand not only what you’re doing, but the way that works for you and the rationale behind it, can I figure out if there are any lessons in there I can apply to my own process.
So I actually find it valuable when someone comes up with a different approach. Far from apologising, I think you should be pleased that you’ve managed to introduce an approach most of us have never thought of. At least you set me thinking. I mean no offense at all when I say I doubt I’ll ever approach writing from exactly the same place you do – I don’t think I’m wired to do that. I’m closer to Zette and what she just explained in the post above me. But that doesn’t mean I can’t learn and improve by considering your way of doing things, so your willingness to explain and then to further explain your process is useful.
I won’t pretend to know what it is, but I think there has to be a middle ground. No one should be – or even feel – attacked for working whatever way they do, however unusual that may be. Certainly no one should ever find themselves on the wrong end of a flamethrower because they follow an unusual process. At the same time, there does have to be a way those of us who are interested in understanding but just don’t “get it” can highlight the things that don’t make sense to us, to keep searching for an alternate explanation that does make sense. I understand there are those who don’t want to go to the considerable effort of taking part in such a strenuous discussion, and no one should be forced to, but I really think for those who are willing, there can be a lot to learn – on both sides. When I’ve pressed for answers, those who were patient enough to keep trying to find a way to convey what they were saying that would make a light go on in my head have always managed to increase my understanding, sooner or later. On the other hand, at times when I’ve been “forced” to “defend” myself and whatever point I was advocating, that has often caused me to think harder and more deeply about what I was saying than ever before – and, thus, to learn more about it than I thought I knew.
So what I’m trying to say is, anyone who takes part in such a discussion without descending to the level of abuse and name calling is a hero in my book. (Generally. I’m not intending to include myself, simply because I don’t really have a choice. That’s the only way I ever manage to understand much about the world. :blush: ) Even if we learn nothing to add to our own writing process, at the very least, we’ve potentially gained a bit more insight into the mind of others, which can only help with characterisation. There is no learning which is wasted for a writer.
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