This weekend I am going to set down and do some free writing. My plan is to post what I write here on the site.
The ground rules I have laid out are simple. No topic has been chosen. Genre will be fantasy or science fiction. No in depth editing will be allowed. Editing will be limited to only the last ten words written at any give time. This means that once a word is on the paper and is past this set limit it stays regardless of grammatical correctness, spelling or other such faults.
We will see how this goes.
One thing all authors should do is get feedback on their work. But, I will be honest with you, other authors can be one of the worst sources for feedback. I don’t know if they do it on purpose or subliminally, but I suspect it is a little of both when they give petty and meaningless critiques.
Not all are like this. Thank God!
But when I submitted one of my recent works to a group of fellow writers for critiquing, I got to experience those that are so shallow. One fellow author offered me no real critique of my work but instead insisted, repeatedly, that I was telling the story from the wrong point of view. When another author chimed in and told him he was being ridiculous in his critique and that the POV was fine, he began insisting that I use certain other words instead of the words I had chosen in a seemingly random fashion. Another author called that “silly”, saying that there was nothing inherently wrong with my word choices which were now under criticism.
After the whole event I learned that the noisy, other author critic was someone who was getting very bitter at not having been published in nearly a decade of trying. He often tries to change other authors into himself in terms of style. His style is not bad. But it just is not me.
Thankfully though the whole experience did yield some positive things that I was able to take away from it. But one thing I definitely learned is that other authors are not always good sources of critique.
I had, what I consider, one of the most nonsensical discussions with a know-it-all author last night. This author, insists that a good fantasy novel must, and he emphasized the must, follow a very rigid formula.
For example, he said that the opening chapter must have action, the second chapter should be character development, the third chapter was for presenting back story, the fourth chapter had to be back to action … and so on he rambled.
I asked him if he wore a lab coat and mixed his concoctions up in beakers with such a rigid formula for “success”. Still he insisted he was right, despite having just two novels published to his name and neither of which have sold any number of appreciable copies.
How boring it must be to write like this. To lock yourself into such a little box with no room to expand beyond codes that in my opinion do nothing other than force everything one writes to be so similar? That would be boring.
What if, I asked, one’s story was not an “action” fantasy? How would you open with action? He said such things don’t sell. I reminded him, apparently neither does what you write. He got upset and dropped the argument.
Here’s the thing about writing that ALL writers must remember. People want and prefer different things when they pick up a story. Some readers want stories that are filled with action and are fast with a bang, bang pace to them. Some people want compelling dialogue as the driving feature of a story. Some people want lush descriptions of everything down to the finest feature of every blade of grass.
You cannot please everyone with their wants and desires and trying to force fit your style to fit all these wants and desires so don’t try. What you should do is write compelling stories in your own, unique, by solid, style and let the critics complain when they do not get what they desire. The quickest way to not loving what you do is to try and bend to the whims of others while seeking what is ultimately meaningless change to who you, as a writer, are. When you bend to the whims of others and write like you don’t want to write you risk becoming just another, boring, formulaic writer who never challenges orthodoxy and producing boilerplate works.
Do not get thrown in with the rest for you will have a hard time being seen.