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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Story I Want To Read

In my writing travels I've run into a lot of aspiring authors who ask me to read a portion of their work. I often oblige because I do love getting a look into fresh material and finding that occasional diamond in the midst of the wooden cogs.

What most turned me off with most writings was the lack of originality. I could tell that so-and-so had read such-and-such-a-book and been inspired to invent something along similar lines. When I told them that honestly I thought their work lacked originality they were at first taken aback. Perhaps they didn't expect forthright critisism, even though they'd asked for it, but writers owe that to each other and so I do my best to deliver. Also, I personally prefer to hear an educated critic over a flatterer. After all, where does the flattery get me? Nowhere. It certainly doesn't push me to do better, to improve and revise, revamp, and master my craft.

Often at the base of an unoriginal work is a desire to write something that will sell; something the reading public has proved it likes. The most common example I've seen is vampire romance fantasies resulting from Twilight.

Today I was reading a bit of C.S. Lewis, a paper he wrote titled (something like) Three Ways to Write for Children. I found myself smilng as I read because Lewis ran into the same situations as I and had the same response. He told one woman that he didn't care for an element of the story she'd written. She replied that she didn't either, 'but that is what children like nowadays.'

Lewis went on to state that he didn't write his stories to what children wanted, rather he wrote the stories he would have loved to read as a child.

Ah! A kindred spirit of mine, at least in this respect.

How can a story have meaning to the reader if it has little or no soul from the writer? I have found myself of late thinking too deeply on what my readers would want in my novels. It did not used to enter my mind prior to signing the book contract, and if it did it was inconsequentially small an issue. But we all have the desire for acceptance and approval . . . and praise.

I have a novel in progress and I've been struggling to write it as best I can. Tonight I am determined to put the soul back into my writing. The story will be exactly what I want to read and, in the end, I believe I will be a happier novelist for doing so. And my writing will be own original work without trappings of commercialism.


Star-Dreamer said...

Yes. Yes, yes, yes. This post is very true.

I have the same trouble many times. I write something, and it starts out like something I know I'm writing because I would like to read it... then it sort of meanders into what I know people like... then it comes back to just what I want the story to be like. It's difficult sometimes. Very difficult.

When I start to get discouraged because of the knowledge that this is what I'm going through as a writer, I try to remind myself that I don't have to write for anyone but me and God. I'll know when it's ready when I feel it in MY gut; when I feel like God is saying, "Alright, this is where the story needs to be"... not when everyone else says it's ready.

That can be dangerous too though, because writer's seem to have a tendency to edit until there's no voice left, thinking that they just aren't quite there yet when really they should have stopped a while ago.(I know from my own experience :D)

I wish you luck in your continuing writing endeavors. May God help you keep your eyes on what is truly important in your writings.

A Servant of the King said...

Yes! I've been trying to do the same. To write stories that I would want to read, stories that touch my heart as I write them, that make me think, without worrying about whether or not everyone else will love them. Because in the end, if the story on the page is the story in my heart, it will have been worth it, whether anyone else reads it or not!

Jake said...

Excellent post! :) I really love this and agree with this. >_> I write for God. And no one else. Part of my personality, as some people tell me, is that I absolutely do not care what other people think of me. Of course I accept criticism about my writing and stuff, but as to my plot, I come up with whatever I like and try to make it as much 'mine' as I can. If someone tells me, "I don't like the way you put this and this, and the way this character died, and I think you overdid the allegory," I would ignore them. I write how I write--allegory comes in there naturally. I make no attempt to 'tone down' what I believe about Jesus. :) It goes into my stories naturally.

Honestly, when I read that you read aspiring authors' novels, my mind went whoomph with excitement. ;) Heh. I actually was looking into Flaming Pen Press recently, reading all through the requirements and such. I'm prepping one of my most original novels to try and publish....ah, but I am just musing aloud again. It's a habit of mine. :)

Anyway, my ramblings are done. Again, great post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


"Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones." -Proverbs 16:24

In a world where morality is forsaken and Christ neglected, wholesome books are uncommon. The themes of my writing are love, self-sacrifice, and honor.

I see my generation turning from God to the gods of this world. I see homes torn apart in the pursuit of pleasure and self-gratification. Children are murdered by the millions every year . . . without ever seeing the world outside their mothers' wombs. Through fiction I strive to encourage those who are willing, to stand against these things and be heroes and heroines; chivalrous, gentle, full of righteous indignation, and the fear and love of their Creator.