This post is for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group. The first Wednesday of every month, we all post our thoughts, fears or words of encouragement for fellow writers). They usually ask an optional question to be answered, and this month’s question is —
Have any of your readers ever responded to your writing in a way that you didn’t expect? If so, did it surprise you?
To me, my work, once published, is no longer mine. While it would be a lie to say I don’t care what readers think, because of course I do, I believe that a book belongs to a reader. They paid for it, and they spent time reading it, so it is their prerogative to think exactly what they like.
When editing a novel, the reader is front-and-centre in my priorities–I try and understand whether my words actually convey the pictures, the sensory input and the emotions that I’d like conveyed. I agonize over word choices. I question each scene and paragraph, and try to weed out what I find unnecessary to the story. This might lead to many torturous drafts, over months, and often, over years.
Once the book is out in the world, though, I’m often quite zen about reader reactions: a reader would bring to a book their set of experiences and expectations, which are totally beyond my control.
Most of the feedback on You Beneath Your Skin has been positive, and I hope I’m a better writer now for taking into account the reader reactions I’ve received. The one unexpected bit was the popularity of the subplot: the relationship between Maya and Pawan. Many readers have asked for spinoffs, with the two of them leading some sort of investigative agency.
What about you? Have your readers come back with a reaction that has taken you by surprise? What reader reactions have you loved or hated?
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. The wonderful co-hosts this time are Erika Beebe, PJ Colando, Tonja Drecker, Sadira Stone, and Cathrina Constantine!
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