On the need for read(ers)

It occurred to me yesterday that some of my writing actually suffers through lack of a reader, and it was an uncomfortable thought.

It’s the Dresden Files fanfiction that’s my target. It’s not a series that’s likely to ever get a reader through a wide variety of factors, the major one being the amount of time and effort it would take to rewrite and make it readable by anyone not familiar with the game we’ve played…which is everyone! So my Dresden writing doesn’t really have a reader, in that I don’t write it for anyone. It’s lovely in some ways in that I can cut a lot of corners, but that’s also bad practise. I don’t have to make sense or have a good plot. I work in a world where a lot of the details are assumed, a lot of the story is based on previous events or plotlines, and a lot of the world is borrowed. I don’t need to explain. I don’t need to expand. It’s incredibly personal and, possibly, incredibly lazy.

I also write two personalities that are antagonistic, but one of my current personal niggles is the feeling that I don’t write them differently enough. Whenever I meet the person who’s character one is based on, I wonder why I can’t quite get it right; they are always that little bit snarkier, nastier, different. Well, of course they are – they have their own version of the character in their head, and they aren’t me! But the character in the story is filtering out of my brain, and it’s always going to change in the course of that. I just wonder if I’m letting it change too much.

Usually, I wouldn’t be bothered. I’ve actively encouraged anyone reading this blog and writing to just ignore their audience! But for this…

I should add, for anyone who has read this blog and is currently frowning at the screen, that I do currently sort-of have a reader. But they don’t do feedback (and that’s not a comment on the reader, because I knew that when I shared the work). And that’s what I miss. I like getting “yeah, it’s good” or “this doesn’t make sense” from my alphas. I like getting “work on this” from my betas. And for this world, I’m worrying that I don’t have the ideas, that my plots are all the same; I don’t have the levels of danger I need, and I don’t have the possibility of failure. I focus on the relationship between two characters, possibly to the detriment of others, and…argh. Some of it’s just personal worry and paranoia, I know, but some of it’s probably legitimate fears. And because I don’t have the feedback, I can’t tell!

Ugh. So, there you go, another minorly paranoid thought from a writer’s brain. But it is something that does affect writing, and affects it in a major way. That’s why I have other readers for my writing – they see things differently. They point out the plot holes, tell me I’m boring, say what they like, give me feedback. And for the story I’m currently writing, I am really noticing the difference; not that it matters for this, but…

Author: kate

Kate Coe is an editor, book reviewer and writer of fiction & fantasy. She writes the sparkpunk GreenSky series and blogs at writingandcoe.co.uk. When she's not working, she fills her spare time in between writing with web design, gaming, geeky cross-stitch and DIY (which may or may not involve destroying things). She also reads far fewer books that she would like to, but possibly more than she really has time for.