I’m having trouble writing my book and am hoping you can help me. I have a very small following with my short stories. I really have a lot of fun writing them, but now I want to write a full-length novel about one of the characters. I know my audience has a lot of expectations about the character, which I was hoping to subvert and make them see the character in a whole new light. However, I’m worried about blowback from people who really love the character. I could wind up losing my reader base and that is not what I want. Do you have any tips or ways around this that might be helpful?
I think the first thing you need to do is ask yourself the real motive behind subverting your audience’s expectations. Is it because it’s something you really want to do with this character or is it simply something you’re doing to get a rise out of your audience. I ask, because subverting expectations has become a pretty common trope in today’s media/literary culture, starting (I believe) with The Last Jedi, and the effects have not been positive. Basically when a creator tells you that they are going to subvert your expectations, that’s basically a red flag that they’re trying to piss you off, gaslight you, or just wreck your view of whatever story they’re working on for various reasons. It’s basically become book sale and box office poison.
If there is one maxim I’ve always lived by, it’s that you can only write for one person; you. Write the story you want to read. Look at what you’ve written and ask yourself, “Would I like to sit down and read this? Is this something I’d look forward to over and over?”
If yes, good, keep writing.
If not, it might be time to start over.
Writing what you think other people want to read… or in your case, what other people probably won’t expect, is a fool’s errand. People are fickle in what they like and there’s no way to please everyone. If you can write a book that you enjoy reading, others who read it will pick up in the joy you took from writing it. It’s one of those things that tends to be infectious.
On a more personal level, in terms of advice… if you’re going to write based on some audience feedback, don’t subvert people’s expectations… exceed them. If people think that your character is destined for great things, don’t turn around and put them in the ditch, escalate them even further. People don’t like shock, they like surprise. Go with that and you’ll get a much better reaction from your audience.
Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.
I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.
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Catch you on the flip side!