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Writers' worries about reader responses

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So often I see writers say they aren't sure if readers are interested in their stories, so they don't know whether to continue a story or not.

Well, here's a thread to discuss that or other concerns writers have about reader responses. (What about that reader who says your story was crap and your mother dresses you funny? What about the reader who wants to rewrite your story?)

I just wanted to say that many readers may really like a story (and be pretty disappointed when it isn't finished!) and yet they may not reply at all by e-mail or on a journal or blog or message board. Why? There are lots of reasons, but I think the most important one for gay stories would be anxiety and, in the case of teens especially, the lack of freedom to respond.

Will it get me or the writer in trouble if I reply? What if the writer is some creep, even though his story was neat? And many teens aren't allowed to e-mail or surf the web without supervision, and so just the fact that they've *read* a gay story would be cause for all kinds of trouble for them, plus, they probably are worried about replying anyway.

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What about that reader who says your story was crap and your mother dresses you funny? What about the reader who wants to rewrite your story?

I have no problem discussing any facet of my stories in Email, with anybody who wants to question anything I ever did. Beyond a certain point, I have to eventually say, "well, I made certain choices for a reason, but it was deliberately done, and if you don't like it, that's cool." But that hasn't happened many times.

I always try to give every single letter-writer at least the courtesy of a reply. Sometimes, I resort to a kind of boiler-plated form letter, but I at least thank them for their time, and I also will try to answer any specific questions they had. In some cases, a few readers have pointed out little flaws here and there that have made me say, "hey! I never thought of that -- let me mull that over and see if I can fix that in a later draft," and I go out and do that. So sometimes, it helps to get criticism, especially if it's on something very direct and specific.

I have no doubt, though, that for every reader who does send in an email, there's probably a dozen others who didn't. I think that's just the nature of the Net: it's hard to communicate sometimes, and sadly, there are some wackos out there you gotta watch out for. But 99% of most of the emails I've ever gotten have been pleasant and complimentary.

--Pecman

P.S. BTW, "Hoodster" is actually a good guy, no matter what he says. Maybe a little sensitive, but generally a pretty good writer.

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Underthehoodster said:

turns out underthehoodster is a creep :wink:

Pecman said:

P.S. BTW, "Hoodster" is actually a good guy, no matter what he says. Maybe a little sensitive, but generally a pretty good writer.

Blue says:

Good to hear you say that, Pecman. -- Your comments about replying to readers are very good, too.

Hoodster, I'm really glad you're *not* a creep. Sensitive, yes; creepy, no, thank goodness. You're also a good kidder.

I know many writers feel anxious about reader responses, from what I've read on other boards from some really good fanfic writers. They say they try to answer each reader's questions and think about it, and sometimes, as Pecman said, it makes them (the writers) notice some point they didn't see in their writing, so usually it's very good. I've also heard about arguments from some very pushy fans who had to be ignored. I know that some authors could get really defensive too.

Nice to see the forum beginning to talk about things. I do hope more readers/fans will join the discussions too.

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Hi Guys,

In many ways what is unique about the net in this regard is the very fact, that unlike traditional publication of a story or novel, is that there is an immediate and direct response by way of feedback to the author.

While a majority of that feedback can be little more than a thanks and I really liked your story sort of expression on the part of the readers out there. What I have found invaluable is the quality of the intelligence that is often displayed by way of critque, viewpoint, or in some cases pointing out obvious mistakes.

I do agree with Pec's observations about the unpleasantries of some of the feedback. Then too I would also be inclined to agree with him that those are somewhat limited in nature.

The other part of this discussion revolves around yet another unique feature in terms of story sites other than Nifty. Blue mentioned it, the forums of the message boards. In many ways I just love the fact that the stories, the authors, and the readers become linked into a sense of connectivity and family of sorts.

Should a writer worry? No, I think not. After all, truly, storytelling is the oldest artform on the face of this planet, and there will always be an element of bias for and against no matter what.

Paul

:mrgreen:

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While a majority of that feedback can be little more than a thanks and I really liked your story sort of expression on the part of the readers out there. What I have found invaluable is the quality of the intelligence that is often displayed by way of critque, viewpoint, or in some cases pointing out obvious mistakes..

All e-mail is valuable to me ESPECIALLY the ones that just say "I'm reading" Unlike most authors I //love// when a reader points out an error or argues a position I've taken as long as it's intelligent. Keep me on my toes and keeps me organized.

-- wbms

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