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Tuesday, 22 March 2011

You can’t fool, or please, all of the people all of the time…

Hello again, this post is somewhat about my writing or at least about peoples reactions to my writing and to differing reactions to books in general.
This may be a bit of a navel-gazing exercise, but bear with me for a few minutes on this one, ok...

I recently got a fair few critiques back for part of one of my OtherWhere stories, most of which got the plot and quite liked the characters. The one that stood out though said more or less the opposite of all the others for every question I’d asked, and in a way that’s the one you want to be most interested in. Praise is always good, as long as it’s constructive. “I liked it,’ doesn’t really give much in the way of help, or improvement. So what was the main difference, you may ask? Character definition, the critique that differed in opinion though my protagonist and main secondary character had none, a fairly fundamental drawback to a story I’m sure you will agree.

So why would opinion be divided on such a fundamental thing, what had I done wrong? This got me thinking about some of my favourite books and some of the often shockingly deriding reviews they have received on occasion. Now I’m not saying I don’t trust the opinions expressed in any critique that differs from the norm regarding my own work. I do, and I don’t for a minute think anything anybody who has ever giver such an opinion was ether wrong or ever intended to be derogatory. To the contrary, I believe everything they have said was for my benefit, and there minority opinions have helped me understand how I write, what I am writing, and possibly most importantly who I am writing for. Right now this is possibly the only thing I have in common with my favourite authors, they know who they are writing for, and they know not everyone will like it. It sounds simple, but it’s probably one of the bitterest pills for a new and struggling writer to swallow - You will probably never write a book that everyone likes.

It’s hard to put your heart into something that screams ‘like me, like me, like me,’ only to be told ‘No.’
So what can I do about it? Do I simply ignore this minority? Of course not, I do what those successful authors do, I take their comments at face value and try to write better, for at the end of the day surely it’s about marginalising the minority as much as possible and gaining as much happy readers as possible.
But, is this a cop out, a sell out to you’re ideas. Some people would answer ‘yes’, and others’ no’. As the title paraphrased, “You can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”
Just remember you can’t please them all ether, so I try to make my work as good as I can without making it sound like something it isn’t. Trying to fool a reader will always come back as bad reviews, and despite what ‘they’ say, any publicity isn’t good publicity.

So what do you think? If you write, what do you do?

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