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Bail Point

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In the Drama Club thread in the New Writer's forum, dude wrote:

Before I started this site, I read a lot of stories on Nifty. I often get to a point in a story, my bail point, where my defense mechanism kicks in. Something happens that I just don't want to read about it. Usually, when I'd hit my bail point I'd do just that... move on to another story more to my liking.

In this case, he was referring to something dark and violent that dude felt crossed the line between fiction and real life, which we all know is far uglier than anything any author could ever dream up.

But I was thinking about this concept in general. I have had the same experience numerous times as well, reading several chapters of a story, and then discovering that it's no longer holding my interest for some reason. These reasons could range anywhere from unlikable characters, implausible plot points, meandering plot lines, poor grammer and spelling, too much sex, too little sex, to real life concerns and distractions.

Having been writing the same story for over two years now, and posting it for over a year and half, I often wonder at what point do readers lose interest? I receive emails from readers who are giddly excited about P&J, corespond for a few months, and then vanish from the face of the earth (from my POV of course). Where do they go? Why do they go?

I'm not looking to start a P&J bashing thread here, but I'd be curious to hear other readers' expereiences in reading multi-chapter, Nifty-type stories, and what caused them to reach that bail point that dude spoke of.

If I've been babbling incoherently over the past few paragraphs, my question is essentially this:

Why and at what point do readers abandon a story?

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Guest rusticmonk86

Hey Tragic Rabbit:

When reading a series, I usually leave it once the plot line becomes predictable. It becomes so little fun when there are no surprises. Or, when an author tends to repeat chapters. Or things that happened in a chapter before it. Also, I abandon a story if it looks like the author doesn't know where it's going. I'd rather just wait until it's complete and then come back and see it.

-Gabe

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from: any reader

to: all writers / poets / artists

Gabe covered a lot, and no, I don't think he meant them specifically for TragicRabbit.

What will make me stop reading?

* If I start to feel the story or author is...off, as in, I wouldn't want to meet that on a dark night, or maybe even in broad daylight. Every once in a while, that happens with a story. -- Maybe you think I'm prudish to say that? Or do you know what I mean? It's ashame that can happen, but it does.

* If the subject matter and presentation becomes too violent or too kinky for me. (Yes, that's a personal choice and hard to define for others.) Please understand, if it is handled well in the story, if it serves the story, I am OK with that. It's related to my previous point. If it seems to be there for shock alone, and for sure if it's there for the wrong reasons, then nope, sorry, that would be too "squicky." (New word for me. Translation: icky, sick, etc.)

I think I gave my opinion on presentation of tragedy and on whether a moral is needed in the Drama Club thread.

:arrow: Several gay stories, including those here, deal with various negatives. That's just how it is because so many people don't understand. Often, we ourselves don't understand. How does the protagonist or even an antagonist change through the story? What does it tell us? -- It doesn't have to be all sugary but it doesn't have to be all rotten, either.

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Guest rusticmonk86

I agree with blue on his last point.

I guess I really want to go back an reiterate what I've said before. (Sometimes I wish I could just edit my post. But that would just screw the thread, wouldn't it?)

I looked at the "Bail Point" as a point in any and all stories. Even good books have a bail point. Most of my bail points happen when there is too much description. In Jack London's books, it was the beginning 17 pages he used to tell us about the CLIMATE those fucking DOGS lived in! A lot of other times it's when there's that needed information to just . . . continue the plot. Or link together two scenes that didn't fit well enough together in the first place.

Those are the bail points in the stories I write. I've got a lot of stories that I just stopped writing because of that part. Why can't everything be all nice and self-explainatory?! Why can't you people just figure out I was talking about a crustacian? I mean, if you don't know what the hell is going on, why are you still reading this far? I digress.

And those fans, they do that. You know, write, then disappear. Personally, I don't do fans. (I have ;P) I hate them all and they're little "write me in!" or "oh my god, that was, like, so great" or "i have a great idea for the next chapter". 'Course, then again, the target audience for these little high school romances we write are the closet case middle and high schoolers ( 11-18 ) and their hags. At least, mine were.

Read Closer by Dennis Cooper.[/i]

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ooooh! I like this thread.

I think we have established that "Bail Points" can differ from reader to reader... and writers can have them as well... the point where the story is just too difficult to carry on.. or often when the author is writing on the web too close to real time.. he/she can't go back and fix something in the plot without seeming a total fool.

So we have a "readers bail point" and a "writer's bail point" which are closely related.. a point where it seems it is useless to go on.

It might be fair to say... that I have found Bail Points in stories that I really liked and ultimately loved. I am enjoying Drama Club and in it's thread I mentioned the bashing at the end of Part Ten brought me close to a Bail Point. I totally love The Least Of These but I ran into another Bail Point there... when the rape took place in the school basement. There was even a Bail Point in Perry and Jesse for me.... and there were several in Jagged Angel. In all these cases, I somehow continued reading the story and ultimately am glad I did.

I think I mentioned once that I generally seek stories that I personally like for AwesomeDude and also that I like to host stories that push my own personal envelope a bit. It is the only way to grow, I guess. So the flashing warning "Bail Point" doesn't alarm me as much as it used to.

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Guest rusticmonk86
I think I mentioned once that I generally seek stories that I personally like for AwesomeDude and also that I like to host stories that push my own personal envelope a bit. It is the only way to grow, I guess. So the flashing warning "Bail Point" doesn't alarm me as much as it used to.

:: grins hopefully ::

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Hi UTH (et al)

Looking at things from a slightly different point of view - what makes you so sure that people are no longer reading the story?

I used to converse pretty regularly in the early days, but life has its ups and downs, sometimes you're busy, and sometimes you're not.

But, for example, I have never bailed on P & J, I still look for new additions to the story whever I'm online. It still remains one of my favourite (English spelling <g>) stories of all time.

Lack of correspondence can't always be correlated to bailing. As Dude said, sometimes there is a point in the story where, for whatever reason, you lose the total passion you may have once had (or something might be personally distasteful), but you still read and enjoy it immensely.

Oh, g'day UTH - it's been a while <g>.

Regards

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A lot can also depend on where the "bail point" occurs in the story. In "The Least of These", that rape scene was so far in that I was already hooked. It was also not overly explicit. On the other hand, the opening chapter of "The Wednesday Boy" hit my bail point. I will admit that it's because Keith is such a great writer that I bailed. I felt the situation too strongly for me to be able to continue the story. If it was someone who didn't create such evocative images, I may have continued.

Driver, in "The Quarry", had what could be considered a "bail point", but he prefixed it by having the narrator start by saying he was about to describe his descent into hell. This gave me some warning on what was to come, plus gave some hope that there was going to be some light at the other end. In my case, I read it at the worst possible time - I read the "bad" chapters late at night, and wasn't able to get to the following "good" chapters for over a day. However, the ending of that story is so upbeat, I'm glad I persisted.

These are examples of "bail points" that are because I became very uncomfortable with the subject matter. The serialisation approach makes these even worse, because it may be weeks before you get a resolution to the stress. In the case of "The Quarry", I was reading it after it was finished, so I got over it quickly. If it was still being serialised, I may not have gone back to it for weeks, or even months.

Other "bail points" have simply been because the story's appeared to drift for a few chapters, and I just couldn't be bother going back to them. Sometime later, I may go back and catch up and, in at least one case, re-discover the enjoyment I found in the story.

Regards,

Graeme

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Thanks for pointing that out, emjaycee. I realize that people continue to read P&J regardless of whether or not they correspond. I am a rather dull person, and not too many people have the tenacity to sustain a long term correspondence with me (although I am very grateful to those that do). One of my great joys these days is hearing from a reader after months of silence. As you said, most continue to read, and some stop for various reasons and pick it up again. That is all perfectly fine.

Personally, if I was reading P&J, I would wait for a few chapters to accrue before reading them (and then I'd write the brilliant author a gushing note).

Awesomedude, I'd be curious to know what your bail point was on P&J. Could it possibly have anything to do with...GURLZ?

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Thanks for pointing that out, emjaycee. I realize that people continue to read P&J regardless of whether or not they correspond. I am a rather dull person, and not too many people have the tenacity to sustain a long term correspondence with me (although I am very grateful to those that do). One of my great joys these days is hearing from a reader after months of silence. As you said, most continue to read, and some stop for various reasons and pick it up again. That is all perfectly fine.

Personally, if I was reading P&J, I would wait for a few chapters to accrue before reading them (and then I'd write the brilliant author a gushing note).

Awesomedude, I'd be curious to know what your bail point was on P&J. Could it possibly have anything to do with...GURLZ?

Why do I bail on a story?

(1) I dislike the story or where it?s going. If a story is getting nasty (rape, incest) I?ll leave. But some stories this might not be so bad if it?s worked in properly.

(2) When the author has ?Jumped the Shark? -- not to name names, but one of my favourites for a long time was Carrots & Celery. But it?s done and the author hasn?t figured it out. She?s stuck in a rut and can?t get out. The characters have turned from interesting to whiney things. I hate that.

(3) The story isn?t believable. This is my number one reason for bailing on a story. Just because it?s sci-fi/fantasy isn?t an excuse. ALL WORLDS must be believable.

(4) Bad writing and/or editing. Nothing pisses me off more than bad writing. Let?s take ?The William Carter? which was SUPERB. Now, I don?t even LIKE the new version coming on at Nifty. But I still read it because the author is such a good writer, I just enjoy reading his words. The worse a story is, the better it better to keep me going. At some point it becomes so bad, it?s unforgiveable. Storm Front is a fantastic story but the chapters are getting worse and worse in terms of editing and have slews of bad grammar but I still read because it?s good. Writing and grammar go hand-in-hand hence I?ve combined them here.

(5) Disregard for the audience. You know what I?m talking about. Some authors rely on Deus ex Machina too much. This should be rare and not common. If you?ve ever felt cheated then you may be here. But not liking something doesn?t necessarily mean the author?s cheated you.

(6) Too much sex. I read for mental pleasure. If a story becomes ?fuck and suck? I?m outta there. There is nothing wrong with sex, but I like to read a story not get off. Standard disclaimer applies :)

BTW, if you wonder what happens to your readers, perhaps it?s ?cause you don?t answer your e-mail. You answered once, and I wrote back. Personally, I gave up writing after two tries, because being ignored sucks. I didn?t take it personally and I still love P&J but I stopped writing :)

Best,

WBMS

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WBMS wrote:

BTW, if you wonder what happens to your readers, perhaps it?s ?cause you don?t answer your e-mail. You answered once, and I wrote back. Personally, I gave up writing after two tries, because being ignored sucks. I didn?t take it personally and I still love P&J but I stopped writing :)

Sorry about that, my friend. I'm generally pretty dillegent about my correspondence. I won't make any excuses except to say that it was nothing personal--simply a lack of proper organization on my part. I do remember us speaking when you were posting the original version of your story.

"Jumped the shark" ?

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"Jumped the shark" ?

To see exactly what I was referring to:

http://www.jumptheshark.com/ (The site is way cool and will keep you busy for hours)

It's a phrase originally coined to indicate something good has gone bad and specifically the EXACT MOMENT it went bad. It's named after the episode of Happy Days where Fonzie jumped over the shark tank. It's in common use now, though most people probably don't know where it came from (or the precise definition).

-- wbms

[/url]

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In a previous posting I dropped the link to Nick Archer's Jumping the Shark In Gay Fiction.

http://www.keithmorrisette.com/14_Stuff%20...0Directory.html

I want to add my disclaimer. Take it with a grain of salt.. A talented writer can take any of the points he mentions... violate them and still come up with great story. I don't have much patience with teachy-preachy stuff. If you have it... you'll catch on fast and find your own level. If you don't, all the tips, rules and "this pisses me off" diatribes won't help you. Constructive feedback from readers, editors and other writers can help, but you must have that creative spark to begin with.

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Some personal bail points of mine:

Too many characters, not enough personality:

Especially common in the "youth crew" type stories, where there's a whole gang of gay/bi kids and couples. Twelve characters who all speak, act, and look the same can get pretty old, especially if they all start pairing off. I mean, you can only stand to watch so many identical teen couples getting together before you start to think "Hey, this exact same thing happened two chapters ago...why am I taking the time to read it again?"

Celebrities/Sci-Fi coming out of nowhere:

I've seen a few stories that started out great, completely original, but then all of a sudden, a few chapters in: "You mean that guy from Hanson is your long lost cousin!? And he'll fly us to the set of the new Harry Potter movie in the Millenium Falcon!? *gasp* Look out, SPACE NINJAS!" I've got nothing against Sci-Fi authors and fan-fictionists...it's just that I'd prefer some kind of warning ahead of time.

Of course, the ones that other people have mentioned apply to me, too: Too much sex, too much kinkiness, plot lines that don't go anywhere, hospital scenes, etc. However, I can usually look past those. The above two, on the other hand, are immediate bail points for me.

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Another point on science fiction and fantasy, particularly fanfics:

I like science fiction (a lot). Sci-fi with gay themes or chiefly gay sci-fi has to be good science fiction first, and the gay elements should be worthwhile too. Don't stick a couple of ho-hum, nothing to say, gay characters in a poorly done pulp sci-fi plot, and call it good gay sf&f. Either or both will make me bail.

However, there are good published sf&f books with gay themes and chars. out there and some good web-published stuff too. (I've gotten recommendations on a couple of online authors I haven't read yet.)

On fanfics, those are an immediate bail for me if the established characters are out of character. I can't see some characters as being gay, sorry. Some of them, I can believe they might be up for something, at least occasionally. Fanfic has to be true to the series it is set within. -- There are some excellent fanfics out there, too, slash (gay pairings) or not.

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I guess i've got a pretty strong stomach, or i'm just pretty damn stubborn. Sometimes i stick with stories long after i feel like i should have quit just in the vain hope that something good will happen. A while back I wrote an endorsement for a story called "SpellSong" over on Nifty. I was four chapters in when i wrote the endorsement, and didn't really understand where the story was going...it was not at all what i expected. I thought it was going to be a typical story about the long lost prince returning to the kingdom held by the corrupt regents, who corrects the evils thereof and brings in a kinder, gentler reign. It has all the earmarks, I swear!

Instead, it was an indepth discussion of the horrors of sexual abuse and how recovery from such brutality occurs, and the justice wrung from those who perpetrate such abuses. It went on ad infinitum, was amazingly graphic and descriptive and painful to read...and i didn't bail because the prose was so well done. If it hadn't been done with such obvious sincerity and artistry, i'd have bailed shortly after i left the note on this forum about it, but the language held me. There was a lot of non-gratuitous sex and violence, but there was a great deal of love, and that carried the day.

My one major bail point: stories that tell, not show.

cheers!

aj

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I guess i've got a pretty strong stomach, or i'm just pretty damn stubborn. Sometimes i stick with stories long after i feel like i should have quit just in the vain hope that something good will happen. A while back I wrote an endorsement for a story called "SpellSong" over on Nifty. I was four chapters in when i wrote the endorsement, and didn't really understand where the story was going...it was not at all what i expected. I thought it was going to be a typical story about the long lost prince returning to the kingdom held by the corrupt regents, who corrects the evils thereof and brings in a kinder, gentler reign. It has all the earmarks, I swear!

Instead, it was an indepth discussion of the horrors of sexual abuse and how recovery from such brutality occurs, and the justice wrung from those who perpetrate such abuses. It went on ad infinitum, was amazingly graphic and descriptive and painful to read...and i didn't bail because the prose was so well done. If it hadn't been done with such obvious sincerity and artistry, i'd have bailed shortly after i left the note on this forum about it, but the language held me. There was no gratuitous sex or violence, but there was a great deal of love, and that carried the day.

My one major bail point: stories that tell, not show.

cheers!

aj

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