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Neil

Is writing a story a communal endeavor between the creator and the readers?

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I am not sure whether it is good or bad, but I find this odd sometimes:

Writers wanting so much to get "feedback comments" from the readers at the early stages of a serial story. Soliciting comments itself is not the issue. It is more when the solicitation becomes a desire from the creator to solicit a stamp of approval from the readers in regard the development of a story, for example.

Should the plot of a serial story be altered because some or many of the readers did not like it? Do we cater then to what is popular so that the writing is well-received?

Why exactly does one write?

Neil

N.B. I should note here that I am not talking about the interaction of the writer and the editor, and comments coming from the latter. I presume that a true editor of the story is privy to the general plot of the story well ahead of time. But even in this role, the editor should simply be limiting (his)her comments relevant to how the story adheres to the idea (story plot) conceived by the writer, rather than serve as a co-author. or "ghost writer".

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I am not sure whether it is good or bad, but I find this odd sometimes:

Writers wanting so much to get "feedback comments" from the readers at the early stages of a serial story. Soliciting comments itself not the issue. It is more when the solicitation becomes a desire from the creator to solicit a stamp of approval from the readers in regard the development of a story, for example.

Should the plot of a serial story be altered because some or many of the readers did not like it? Do we cater then to what is popular so that the writing is well-received?

Why exactly does one write?

Neil

N.B. I should note here that I am not talking about the interaction of the writer and the editor, and comments coming from the latter.

You most certainly realize there isn't any one answer that would serve for any of those questions. Everyone who writes is different, and their motivations and sentiments and thought processes are unique to themselves.

I don't know of anyone who writes a serial novel who solicits feedback for the purpose of getting approval of what he's written so he has the energy or support to continue. Perhaps that's the motivation of some, but I doubt it.

Writers do want to know people are reading what they write, and everyone likes to be praised for what he's doing, but if a writer has a good story in mind, I can't see him stopping writing it simply because he isn't getting much feedback.

I also doubt most writers would change where they'd planned a story to go because they got some negative mail concerning early chapters. But it's possible, I guess.

Why people write is a very complex matter. I write for many reasons. And some of those would be shared by other writers, some of them are possibly only relevant to me.

It will be interesting to see how others respond to this.

Cole

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I don't know of anyone who writes a serial novel who solicits feedback for the purpose of getting approval of what he's written so he has the energy or support to continue. Perhaps that's the motivation of some, but I doubt it.

Cole,

There are some very well know writers who have serial stories posted on the web who have abandoned their efforts because of lack of positive feedback from readers. I won't name any of them here, but many on this forum know of one or two.

There are also writers who want no feedback of any kind, and will stop writing when their wishes are ignored (either because of not knowing the writer's preference, or not caring whether the writer likes it or not).

You're absolutely correct when you say writers are different. These cases illustrate two of the extremes of that difference.

Colin :rolleyes:

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I don't usually post serial stories, but if I did I would definitely be encouraged by positive feedback and discouraged if I got negative feedback. However I'm an arrogant bastard and it's unlikely that I would change the story to suit readers, I would be more likely to give up writing it if it became clear the readers hated it.

Everyone's different and I know others feel quite differently about this - and that's how it should be, diversity forever!

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I don't write much, or often, but for me it is almost a cathartic release of tensions and angst. When the need to let something go is great, it just bubbles out of me in words. Happily, I'm not writing much these days, which says a lot for my inner peace of mind. :rolleyes:

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Is writing a story a communal endeavor between the creator and the readers?

NO.

What I will do sometimes is ask if a story concept is fun or interesting but once I'm started on the story, I have an idea where its going. I might name a character after a fan, someone who give me a good tip or someone that I just like but that's writers privilege.

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Regarding feedback, I think there is a significant difference between feedback from people you trust and respect and the general public, about which you may know little or nothing. Feedback from someone you trust can be helpful -- maybe is likely to be helpful -- especially if you know them to be forthright in their observations.

Ultimately, though, damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead with the writing. It's the writer's work, and if it works for him or her, so be it. The writer, however, has to realize that communication with the reader is the final objective. Writing in tongues may please the writer, but there may be only one reader. And, from my editing experience, there may be no reader.

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Feedback from readers has never caused me to alter the story line, however it has affected how I present that line. Readers sometimes note things that we, as authors, missed and their criticisms can help us in improving our skills. In some cases it can be as simple as how a word is thought of in other countries or areas which causes me to use a different word going forward. To give an illustration, in some parts of the United States a small stream of water can be referred to as a branch while other areas of the country will call it a creek or a brook. Most English speaking people will understand the words creek or brook, but may need an explanation about the word branch when used to describe the concept. When you couple the differences in the understanding of the word branch with the saying, "up the branch," or, "so far up the branch the hoot owls screw the chickens," (meaning following a small stream way back into the hills and away from civilization) you can see how some people might not understand what you were trying to say. Another example of the same use of that word would be someone ordering Bourbon and branch, meaning Bourbon and water. Anyhow, when I get questions of that nature it causes me to examine my writing and see if I should change or stop using a given word or expression, or supply a footnote explaining it.

In other cases it has caused me to elaborate on certain topics because readers have asked questions about them. Too often we forget that not everyone shares the same cultural background as ourselves, and concepts that are perfectly clear to me and people in my area may be less clear to readers of another country or area within my country without additional information.

Anyhow, that's my cent and a half's worth.

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James, that rooster should be quite capable of fending the hoot owls off no matter how far up the branch it lives. As a service to Merkin you might supply an address where it can be found as the hens there would no longer excite his sense of wonderment. Then again, maybe certain other senses of wonderment would take place. :rolleyes:

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Should the plot of a serial story be altered because some or many of the readers did not like it? Do we cater then to what is popular so that the writing is well-received?

I agree with Cole and AWL above. I think a writer has to write for himself first, and for the readers second.

You can't get into the position where you're spoon-feeding people exactly what they want. I also think that audiences are so hard to predict, you'll only drive yourself crazy if you try to predict what you think they'll want.

I think the best advice is to write a story that entertains you. That having been said, listen to your close friends and relatives who are advising you on the story before publishing. Sometimes, they may be in a position that's objective enough to see an issue you can't yourself appreciate.

On at least one occasion, a bunch of my advanced readers ganged up on me and insisted I change a plot issue on one of my past stories (a climax in which a minor character died). If it had only been a couple of them, I might have resisted, but it was 10 to 1 against. In the face of those odds, you've gotta know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em. In the end, I think the story turned out better, and I'm grateful for the advice.

My last point is, as far as I'm concerned, what I put out on the net is just a first draft. There's no telling what can change later on, and I'm not against the idea of rewriting later on, once I realize something could be improved. Stephen King has done this a couple of times, both with The Stand and with parts of Dark Tower, which he revised years after release to solve certain story issues (and to extend and flesh-out both).

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I totally agree with Pec. If you're going to employ editors and pay them the extortonist fees we do, we probably would be wise to listen to them.

When more than one of these guys tells me something should be changed, I almost always change it. Not always; there are times I think they're missing the boat, or it's something I feel passionately about, but I usually grunt and groan and make the change.

And I think the stories are always better for it.

C

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At least now we know what all the hoot 'n hollerin' that's goin' on back in them thar hills is all about!

C

Holy Shit! Did you see the size of that cowboy's cock! DAMN! Why did I EVER leave Arizona.

As a writer, I love to hear that it [my story] is being read. Period. If it is not being read then why post it? It doesn't mean I would stop telling the story, but it is difficult to go through the headache of formatting it and sending it off if you are not even sure if it is still being read. Silence is not ALWAYS golden.

As for changing the direction of a story, by the very nature of the story and the way I write, being told by the characters what to say, I am unable to change the way the story goes. I found out early on that storybook characters HATE outlines. I have added readers requests for circumstances on occasions with mixed results.

But all in all, I write for myself first and even without feedback, I would probably continue to do so. But comments keep me informed that others are there and are interested in what happens next. So it keeps me posting and holds me to a schedule I would not have otherwise. So in short, comments affect my writing frequency and consistency, but not the direction of that which, for me, is already lain in stone, just waiting for me to chisel it out.

Cheers,

John

aka bestpi (codey's World)

aka ricky (Nifty prolific author, IOMFATS.org, SCREEVE.org)

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Guest Dabeagle

I agree in whole or in part with most of these comments, especially the concept that everyone's writing motivations differ greatly. I freely admit that feedback of any kind was the some of the motivation of posting the story. I can play out an entire story in my head, but if I'm going to take the time to bang it out and post it, it's nice to know someone other than myself actually read it. Bonus if they liked it, but not a requirement.

As for changing a storyline for a reader, I don't recall having done so. This would not be, presumably, because of my arrogance as the creator of whatever world I am currently writing (perhaps my arrogance knows no bounds?) but more because I don't always know how a story is going to end up. I have an idea and flesh it out, and sometimes I have a rough idea of how it will end but I don't always know the details. Unfortunately most of the suggestions I have gotten over the years from readers fall along the lines of 'so and so should hook up with so and so' or 'you need to add some sex'. Because of that, I summarily discount the suggestion.

And those suggestions re just the ones Lugnutz sends me.

Readers can be a great source of inspiration though, not only in continuing to share the tale but in launching new ones. If we are lucky a character or story will so affect the audience that they want more, that they feel. Sometimes it can be for a side character that kind of got hosed in the storyline you tell, only to make their own story later on.

Sometimes getting less feedback is a good thing too, in the writing process. When I first started writing it was because it was cathartic for me in the coming out process among other things. Initially feedback was frequent and in abundance but those stories were pretty bad, honestly. I look on them now and cringe, hiding them from the probing of the internet as best I can. The responses I get now are fewer, but of higher quality.

Dabeagle

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I like feedback. I haven't gotten negative, but I have gotten one or two that wanted sex in the story. Not going to happen. I might hint at it but that's as far as it goes. I haven't gotten much in the way of suggestions either, but I don't really think I could change a story to suit a few readers. But you never know. Given the right ideas anything is possiable.

I haven't written anything in a year or so, something I need to get back to. A little inspiration does wonders.

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No.

Unless I put forth some sort of a "workshop" type piece, where I specifically solicit comments from the audience (Brandon Sanderson's "Warbreaker" comes to mind here), the piece that the audience reads is what I envision in my head as the chapter/novel/short story/whatever.

That is not to say that comments, suggestions, concerns, etc. aren't taken into account the next time that I sit down to write.

There is, as said, a difference between advance readers of a work and the general reading public. Editors/Advance readers/whomever are encouraged and indeed (I think) entitled and almost required to challenge the author on plot, pacing, characters, and the like. These people I listen to--because they have an objectivity that I the author do not.

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Interesting topic, though there for a while I thought it was going to be totally hijacked by a cowboy and his cock.

So many good things were said and so I dicided to add my ha'pence. I don't think I'd ever change my story because a reader didn't like a character, situation or an event. If they say I think you should do thus and so or should have; Well I say, let them write their own story.

I have no problem if they point out a discrepancy, punctuation, historical or timeline error or grammatical error. I appreciate it when they do. I, of course, blame my editor.

I like readers' comments, after all, I do have an ego. I would hope if there are critcisms, they at least be constructive, or at least not too brutal. I'm sensitive, aka, touchy bastard.

I have as yet had to wrestle with any of the editors I so richly reward with uh, uh... well money isn't everything. I like it when one editor doesn't agree with another editor's edits. I sit back and giggle.

Anyway, lots of good stuff was said.

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...I have no problem if they point out a discrepancy, punctuation, historical or timeline error or grammatical error. I appreciate it when they do. I, of course, blame my editor...

Editors are never appreciated. We work behind the scenes, unrecognized. :closet: It's a sad situation, something akin to the lack of appreciation which meter maids are subjected. :cry: Then we are bashed for the failings of others. :cat: It's appalling, I say, just appalling! :shock:

Colin :lol:

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