Readers make a book what it is–no question about it. The story and characters that take shape within a writer’s imagination find form within that of the reader. Readers bring their own thought processes to a story, their own worldviews. They project themselves into the writer’s world, and in some ways, this turns into a very intimate yet totally impersonal meeting of the minds, across time and space.
As an author, I confess to thinking more about the people inside my head than those without. People turn into characters. Places, into settings. Anecdotes turn into stories. Sometimes I’m not sure my memories of the people I met are made of are reality or imagination. I keep making stories up–all the time.
Writing them, for me at least, is an intensely private act, laid bare to the public at some point.
The Insecure Writer’s Support Group question for this month deals with this very topic : 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?
There are no right or wrong answers to this question, only different ones.
In my case, writing the first draft is always for myself. The second is for one or two readers. These days, those readers are my agent and editor. The third is where the general readers come in. And from there onwards, readers remain a priority. While writing the drafts though, the story remains one I’d like to tell. I tweak and re-tweak the structure and the language to ensure that my readers are able to experience the story the way I’d imagined it.
This was more or less the process for The Blue Bar, and the early response from readers so far has been heartening as I work on the sequel. If you have the time and enthusiasm, you can scroll below for links to pre-order or click here. (It is at 2580 Want to Reads on Goodreads, and has had several wonderful early reviews.)
For The Blue Bar sequel, I’m a tad nervous about reader feedback, because the topics I deal with are volatile, both within India and without. I can’t let that stop me, though. The story has its own life and its own trajectory, and I can’t let my fear shape it. So again–the characters will take precedence in the first few drafts, and readers in the later ones.
When you write a story, do you think of your own world, or the readers? Would you sacrifice originality for your readers? As a reader, do you wonder about the author when reading a story?
Today is the first Wednesday of the month post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
Founded by the Ninja Cap’n Alex J. Cavanaugh, the purpose of the group is to offer a safe space where writers can share their fears and insecurities without being judged. This is a wonderful group–if you aren’t a part of it, I urge you to join in!
My own crime novel, The Blue Bar will be out this October with Thomas & Mercer. It is already available for preorders. Add it to Goodreads or pre-order it to make my day.
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