Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Artistic Choices AKA You Can't Please Everyone

I think of myself as a crafty writer.  The words are important.  To me, it's as important how you tell about what happened as it is that you have an engaging, interesting story.  One of my reviewers called me "a magician with words", which is embarrassingly flattering, but also a beautiful metaphor for a story.  I love the idea that a well-told story is a weaving of a special kind of magic, subtly casting a spell on the reader. 

When I wrote E, I made some very careful choices about how I wanted to tell the story.  One of those choices was in regards to world-building.  I chose not to go in depth about the complexities of the society I had created.  I did not explain how certain things had come to be, aside from dropping a few hints.  My story is told in first person, so I felt that the scope of the world was limited to what my character was seeing and perceiving, and that the immediate threats to her well-being far superceded any pondering over government, politics, and so on.  I felt that world-building needed to happen on that immediate level.  On the level that was most relevant to the story.  Did that leave some questions?  Yeah, of course it did.  However, that was also my intent.  I wanted my readers to ask those questions, as they are relevant to the ongoing story.  I thought of them as teasers that would draw my readers into the bigger picture.

To a large extent, this all worked as intended.  I have those readers who totally got what I was doing, and they are on board one hundred percent.  I've had lovely reviews that have praised the world-building and many readers who have made comments about the unique world, etc.  Then, on the other hand, I have a handful of readers who did not like that I held those things back.  They wanted answers to the questions that were raised.  They wanted them now!  So, essentially, the choices I made did not please everyone.  However, they did have the desired effect in both groups of raising questions and offering teasers that lead into the next story.

The hard part is when people take off a star on a review for something that I intended to be a certain way, and absolutely would not change about my story.  I love reviews, and even the ones that are not entirely positive are well worth reading in my opinion.  I love to see what is happening in my readers' minds when they read my story.  But yeah, that missing star can be painful, especially when a reader claims to have loved the story in the review!  I think the thing is, we need to sometimes focus on what readers are saying in reviews, not looking at the missing stars. 

For me, I know that my sequel has to include answers to some of those questions, and more world-building, which is all on track with how it was going to be anyway.  I'm headed in the right direction.  The main lesson I have learned as a writer is that I am never going to be able to please everyone.  That just reinforces that I really write for myself, because I love to write.  Sharing my stories with others is just an added bonus.  I will continue to stay true to what I believe is the best way to craft my stories, and I believe that ultimately, that will lead to success.

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