On the first Wednesday of every month, members of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (open to anyone and full of great resources and information for writers) post their answers to a monthly prompt on their blogs.
Authors benefit from getting an insightful prompt for generating more blog content, and IWSG links all respondents, which is a way for writers to discover each other. Pretty neat!
August 3 question – When you set out to write a story, do you try to be more original or do you try to give readers what they want?
I think this is a hard question for me to answer, because I’m not sure I make an intentional effort at either.
I’m not explicitly setting out to be “original” in the sense of creating something new, groundbreaking, innovative, unique for the genre. Neither do I first consider what is marketable or what readers’ preferences might be. I just… write what comes to me. Maybe that’s the intent of the first option?
If by “readers” the question would include “editors” then the answer is most certainly yes, especially so in later drafts. When just setting out to write a story though, the answer is mixed. Sometimes, I am writing to a specific prompt or theme that has been provided; in fact, all of my market-published short stories have been for themed issues or anthologies. Is that “giving readers what they want”?
Perhaps I’m overthinking the question. Zooming out.
I write for the sake of creativity, exploring themes, worlds, and characters that interest me, and to express ideas that I find hard to get across in any other medium. If readers happen to like it and maybe even buy something to help me recover costs, hey that’s great; but I don’t think of my writing life as a business, nor my writing output as a product. In that sense, I choose “original”.
If the writing well reflects you as the writer, then it is original you! I think that’s as original as we need to be. If I don’t enjoy what I’m writing then I’m not sure that I want to do it–unless I’m being paid very well to do it.
The writer’s main job is to write what’s on their mind in a cohesive understandable way. If I kind of enjoy what I’ve written then I figure others might enjoy the writing too.
Tossing It Out
Thanks for the comment Arlee! It makes me wonder about a hypothetical question… how much would someone have to pay me to write a novel I didn’t want to write? I’m not sure I know the answer to that…
I like the way you define original in your last sentence. Sounds like you and I write for many of the same reasons. If someone else likes what I like, then great!
Thanks Loni! have you had much success finding a reader community that is along with you for the ride?
If we start thinking of it as a business and write for the “market,” all the passion goes out. And no one wants to read a story like that.
I definitely don’t set out to write to market. But I don’t depend upon income from writing to survive. I really come to appreciate the blessing of being able to write for the pure pleasure of craft.
If short stories is your thing, you do have to consider the market you are submitting to. But you still must write what is your passion.