If you’re a poster at Road to Nowhere and in the Fanfic forum, you know there’s been some kerfuffle with several authors deciding they won’t post there any longer due to bullying on the part of some of their readers.
I’m a different type of author, I’m aware of that. I don’t mind negative feedback (to a point) because it helps me grow and look at my stories differently. Some authors don’t want that, and that’s their prerogative. I only speak for me.
There’s a difference between having a negative reaction to a plot or a character and being a bully. I have never felt bullied or harassed in any way, and especially not in the last few years as I returned to writing and have built a rather amazing base group of readers, but let me clarify my point so that my POV at RTN is the same here as it is there.
When I wrote A Few Words last year, we all know the angst was off the wall. If you read some of my original plot sketches, you know I intended a great deal more of it. I scaled it back for a few reasons.
1. My outlines are just that — outlines. I try to visualize the whole story so I can lay the foundations for themes foreshadow future events. I am never married to them, which is why I often post them so you guys can see how I might deviate.
For example, The Best Thing was pretty close to the outline right up until about Chapter 15. And while I kept some elements (the engagement party, the warehouse fire), the characters themselves are completely different from I had visualized. I never intended to write Sonny’s POV to the point where my heart breaks for the character. I intended Carly to the antagonist (but not the villain), but some of the material I’ve written for future chapters twists how I picture her.
When you actually sit down to write, the outlines are just a guide. Writing takes you places that you don’t expect, and you can’t force yourself into a corner in order to write it. I was doing that with All We Are a few months ago, and as soon as I eliminated a confrontation with Lucky and shifted him to non-confrontational, I finished the story in about two days.
2. I do read and respond to your feedback. In A Few Words, I took a ton of heat for the angst level and for Elizabeth and Jason individually. I felt very strongly that their actions were in character, but I can see now I should have done more to put Jason’s POV earlier in the story, and I probably would have changed a few other things. But I stand by the majority of my story. The mistake I made was how I wrote it and communicated their motives. I attempted to clear it up and make it better for the second half of the story.
You guys were frustrated by their inaction, by their refusal to talk, and you wanted to punch me for the angst. Some readers thought the Liz/Carly fest was too much. And not one person was wrong. You guys were fantastic and I loved knowing how much you were responding to it, because you kept reading and hoping for better. I felt like we were all emotionally engaged and I hope the payout was worth it.
So I go into that detail to explain why if you read some of the feedback at Fanfiction.net (where people are brutally honest often), it doesn’t faze me. Someone responded to the first episode of Damaged at FF.net that they don’t plan to read it because Jason never would have rejected Jake if he were still alive. They didn’t bother to continue reading to learn why I had that plot detail in the introduction section. (Because of course, Jason wasn’t Jason, he was the missing twin brother.)
And I respect their decision not to read it, though I wish they’d give it one more episode 😉 You guys control your interactions with the stories you read. We put it there, you read it. And if you don’t like it, don’t read it.
But for me, in particular, I love all of my feedback. I love the people who just respond to tell me that they loved it. I like the guys who just tell me that this character was great, but ugh, this one is annoying. And I love those of you who give me several paragraphs to deal with.
I take fanfiction seriously. Because it’s what I write. I love to tell stories, but I love to tell stories in this world. I don’t write regular novels (every time I try, I always end up variations of the same characters I write for GH), but I do write academic nonfiction. So this is my chance to tell stories. So I approach my stories in a different way than some authors. You can ask my beta Cora, but you’ve seen the detail in my plot sketches. I plot and write dialogue months, even years before I ever write the scene. I think about the twists and turns in my sleep. I spend hours at my computer to write these stories.
I do it for me, there’s no mistake in that. But I do it more for you guys. Even those of you who don’t reply, I see the stats. And I know how often a post gets clicked. I do it because you guys make it worth my while and make me think I’m not crazy for putting so much effort and love into fanfiction.
So respond however you like or don’t respond at all. You never have to worry if I’ll be annoyed or feel harassed. I have a supremely thick skin and I know the community we’ve built here at CG is a safe one 😛