Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Question of Story/Taste

I've been pondering a number of things lately in regard to writing and hence these are my own personal thoughts on story and taste.

No one's tastes are exactly the same (though many are close) nor should they be. Things can be done to help reach a wider reading audience-placement of characters and likability factors but regardless everyone has to write the song the muse gives them. If you force it-you will lose it and everyone will know it.

In matters of taste there are huge blockblusters that I Will Absolutely never read. They may be incredibly successful but they don't light my fire so I won't be picking them up-and that's OK because we should be different.

The other point I am pondering regarding taste and story is since you can't please everyone who should you please? I say yourself-you have to be proud of what you do. In contemplating a variety of comments lately I thought about WHO may favorite authors are-most will be unknowns to you unless you are already a fan or longtime follower of the blog. My absolute favorite writer to just sit and read is Robert E. Howard and he isn't considered a very good writer by literati snobs and yet there is no doubt in my mind whose books I treasure the most, who drives my imagination the strongest in Pict-haunted wilderness's and Stygian sands with malevolent ghosts blowing across the dunes.
Karl Edward Wagner is another as is David Gemmell, John Keel, Hunter S. Thompson, Joe Abercrombie, H.P. Lovecraft, Cormac McCarthy, Bernard Cornwell, and of course Tolkien.

So I pondered IF what I want to do is closer to these guys more than anyone-should I be bothered if someone who doesn't like them doesn't like me?
Should I be bothered if readers that like other authors more than my influences aren't grabbed by me?
Everyone will like what they like and IF my story satisfies me and my taste-why worry about the rest? Write to your passions. Follow your muse and forget the rest.

Tell the story.


Krista said...

'Nuff said. great post, David.

David J. West said...

Thanks Krista-sorry we missed you at Storymakers but I am sure you had a great time too.

T.J. said...

Well said! Another thing that I've seen/read lately that has reminded me to ignore the one bad critique. Awesome blog!

Wendy Swore said...

I think you must follow your muse when you write, but at the same time, when the story is done, you have to consider who you want your audience to be.

I'm not suggesting we write something that doesn't ring true to ourselves, merely that sometimes we have to be careful--or at least aware that the things we write can alienate certain parts of the population.

For example, in my story (YA, set on a farm)I realized when I had my first set of alpha readers that some of what I wrote was so Mormon, that my non-mormon readers actually didn't understand. THey thought the "ward" meant these people had something to do with a prison, and that the "sisters" were nuns. I chose to nix the words that made mine specifically LDS targeted and yet still keep the clean feel that made the story worthwhile.

If my intent had been to cater only to the LDS market, then I would have left them in.

Does that make sense?

Angie said...

Yes! Great thoughts. It's true we can't please everyone. I try to please myself too (and I try to please God, not to get too religious or anything). I have several huge blockbuster books that I'm just not going to read because they don't float my boat. Speaking of boats, everyone kept bugging me to see Titanic all those years ago, and I finally caved. Yeah. I could have done without that. Thanks for a great post.

Amalia T. said...

That's a great way of looking at it, definitely. As long as the audience you were writing for likes what you're doing, the rest shouldn't matter.

M. Gray said...

This is a great reminder. While I'm working to expand my audience, I can't lose sight of my story.

Of course, I realize you weren't referring to me, but that's what I got out of the post.

Everyone likes different stuff. It's a good thing. Can't wait to find out who your greatest fans are!!

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

David--your book has the makings of a literary classic, as fantastic as Tolkien and as literary as Faulkner. I am loving it so far. Unless you disappoint me in the middle, I can't wait to get it read and get you a glowing review.

Melissa J. Cunningham said...

Great post. Makes you think, doesn't it?

David J. West said...

Thanks TJ

Wendy-I am not talking about being cool with limiting your audience-this was more of a response to the first chapter judging and critiques/reviews as well as related parphernalia.
I know Farland.

Angie-I've seen a bit and Cameron just isn't for me-or at least hasn't been for like 20 years.

Amalia-I have been very pleased with my target audience responses as of late.

Mary-yes there has to be a balance and my response to some might make me seem lopsided.

Tamara-thank you very much-I can't see you being disapointed if you like it thus far.

David J. West said...

Thanks Melissa.

elizabeth said...

I have friend whose debut novel has been out for some time already and she feels the weight of the readership on her shoulders. She worries what she'll write next will snag their interest. That it's no longer a "hobby" fun type of thing, but more like a job.

I hope I don't feel that way when my time comes. I'll just have to keep it in perspective and remember why I go into writing to begin with. Good luck David!!!

PS--I really like your book so far. I can't stop thinking about it as I go about my day making dinner and taking care of kidlets!!

That's a GOOD sign!! :)

Wendy Swore said...

David, I meant to agree with you in that we write what feels right to us, and worry about the rest later.

It is very true that every reader is drawn to a different type of story. Sometimes it resonates with them and sometimes it doesn't, but we keep writing just the same.

Thanks for stopping by BTW. Nice of you. :)

KarenG said...

Just reading your post and the comments. Tamara is right on!! Your book has pleased so many readers, that if there are a few who dissent, so what?

Lori Nawyn said...

Wonderful post, David. Wish I would have had opportunity to meet you at the conference.

-David P. King said...

Way to say it, David.
Our little conversation didn't spark up this post, did it?
And you are completely right. A writer should write stories they like, not custom/tailor made for someone else. If someone likes your stuff, they'll buy it. Easy enough.

Good work, sir. Keep it up!

(I went to a WiDo presentation last night. It was very good. I noticed you're published with them. When I have something I'm satisfied with, I'm thinking of giving them a try)

Charles Gramlich said...

It always bothers me when someone doesn't like my work, but in honesty I understand the different strokes for different folks. Most of your writers are my favorite writers too. Have you read Gemmell? I think he fits that list pretty well. I'm just going to start some Cornwall this summer.

Lisa said...

You have to like your work first and foremost. That's the easy part though.

You're right on the mark. It is all a matter of taste. While I like romance in what I read. My husband likes things with weapons and fighting. Different people, different interests.

David J. West said...

Elizabeth-thank you very much I appreciate it. I have to write-IF Im not writing I go mad.

Thanks Wendy, we have to do it.

Karen-yep-thats life-you move on.

Lori-Yeah so many people this year-we'll have to chat next year. Blogs in the meantime right?

David-It was inspired by several people I talked with over the weekend and just coallesced(Sure I didn't spell that right) Cool lets talk.

Charles-I almost added Gemmel but have only gotten to 2 of his books yet. He could absolutely be on my list-I just need to read more, I already own the books. I'm excited to start his retelling of the Trojan War series and more Deathstalker one as well.

Lisa-hope I find a balance in theer for you and your husband-we'll see. I'm sure I have his intrests covered.

MT said...

Amen, Bruthuh. Say it like it is.

David J. West said...

Thanks Michelle.

Kimberly said...

Well said, David. I would call myself proof of that philosophy. While my writing is a LONG way off from being publishable, I didn't truly begin to enjoy the writing process till I found a niche for myself, something I actually enjoy writing. It may be lacking modesty to say so, but I think my writing has improved exponentially since I switched to a genre closer to my heart (okay, more my funny bone, really...).

Love how simply and forcefully you expressed this. It really can be that simple.

David J. West said...

Thank You Kim, wish we had-had a chance to talk more during Storymakers. My wife stole half the chocolate you gave me-but I enjoyed what you gave me very much-thanks.

Nichole Giles said...

True. You're so right about this. Also, love the advertisement post. Tee hee.

David J. West said...

Thanks Nichole, I seek to entertain.