1. Wyr
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    Wyr Active Member

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    How Do You React To Readers Who Embellish Your Characters/Stories?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Wyr, Nov 13, 2013.

    This question first popped into my head after a conversation I had with a friend of mine over a story I’m working on. After explaining to her the basic plot and letting her read a snippet of a rough draft, she insisted that two of my MCs had to be a couple. Never mind the fact that the part she read had no romantic elements whatsoever or that both characters in question are straight women, one of whose boyfriend is the third MC in the story. Nope! According to her they have to be a couple and the fact that their affair is a secret from the boyfriend makes it even better. It led to a rather pointless argument where I felt like I had to defend my entire take on my own story.


    I really don’t want to write a romance story, even before this I was taking great pains to ensure that the boyfriend/girlfriend relationship didn’t take over my plot, so I’m not about to let one person’s opinion cause me to rewrite the whole dang thing. But it does make me wonder how writers/creators react when their readers or fans misinterpret (sometimes on purpose) their story or characters. You see examples all over the internet of people “shipping” characters *shivers* or those who insist that Hermione should have married Harry, etc.


    How do you deal with that, both before and after publishing? Should I have even bothered trying to argue the point with her or should I just let her think whatever she wants, ignore it, and write it my way?
     
  2. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Ignore it.
    If anything, be flattered.
    The reader was emotionally involved enough to imagine something about the story.
    Like when you read a story and make up scenes and stories that you wish happened or how it would have happened if you were involved.

    It's fanfic, that's all.
    Canon remains canon.
    And you remain the god of your creation.
     
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  3. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's nothing to ignore. You and her have the exact same text to go on. It's a question of who can better argue their case according to what was actually written. If you lose an argument regarding your own text, it means you probably did a crappy job writing it.
     
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  4. Quabajazzi
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    Quabajazzi Member

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    It can be tricky to form a strong opinion unless you're familiar with the text, but as a general guideline to myself, I tend to ignore people who try to change my story to suit their own fantasies, unless of course I believe their input will better the plot (if I'm having a block, for example, and they offer suggestions).
    I do not really enjoy having to listen to people who force their ideas and suggestions onto me, however, and perhaps it reflects poorly on my personality, but I sometimes try to make the opposite of what they want work just to be an idiot. It's just a bit of a pet peeve, especially if I didn't seek their opinion in the first place. (And I'm talking about bossy people, not people who genuinely want to help and do so without being forceful).
    I consider that a personal trait of my own, one that isn't very flattering, but nonetheless I still suggest ignoring their canon ideas. But don't be mean about it, just say you don't really agree with their suggestion and any further argument they try to create is best to be confronted with a facial expression that implies they're fighting a losing battle. :)
    Good luck!
     
  5. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Oooh that would hurt man :D

    To the OP - well, it depends if she has a point. Your lack of desire to write a romance doesn't mean it's necessarily a good thing for the story. Sometimes we want our stories to go the way we've envisioned it so much we miss the points when really we should've deviated from it. And then we find this out after we've written another 80k words so we gotta go back and rewrite the whole dang thing :D (happened to me on more than one occasion)

    But yeah, as another person said, it's fanfic. Be flattered, if you think she has a point, consider it and maybe take it on, and otherwise move on. You'll always write it in the way you feel it should go, so there's no real question really. If you're not sure, go ahead and write one scene where your two characters as lesbian lovers and see if it feels right - if it doesn't, then you have your answer!

    Anyway I do realise that wasn't your question... :rolleyes: For myself? It's never happened to me before. And if someone suggests things that I don't agree with, I just smile/laugh and acknowledge that that could be a cool idea and I'll think about it. Very British of me heheh :D
     
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  6. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yep, we got to be very, very careful. There are people out there whose sole purpose in life is to outsmart the rest of us :O
     
  7. Wyr
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    Wyr Active Member

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    Thanks for the advice guys. :-D


    @A.M.P.

    You are probably right, regardless of what she says it’s still my story to write how I want. I guess I should be happy that she cared enough about it after just knowing the basics of it to even bother having an argument with me at all.:)


    @123456789

    You make a good point except the part that I gave her to read was actually from the beginning, where the characters meet as children for the first time and they bond over the fact that they've both lost their moms. There is literally zero romantic subtext you could weasel out of it. Her opinion was largely based on the overview of the plot that I gave her. The main points of her argument being-

    1) The plot makes the perfect set up for a tragic Romeo/Juliet style romance and I should take advantage of it.

    2) People are going to assume it anyway so I might as well write it in.

    3) Love triangles always make a story more compelling.


    @Quabajazzi

    I get that way too sometimes when people act like they know my story better than I do. Luckily she is a good enough friend that I can give her a very emphatic “Not gonna happen. Ever.” and tell her that Twilight has rotted her brain without her taking it personally. :p


    @Mckk

    I get your point about stories not always ending up the way we first imagine them, but my strong desire to not write a romance is part of what gave birth to the idea for this particular story in the first place. I wanted to write something with strong female characters who were not being driven by any romantic impulses or needs (at least in relation to the main plot.) On top of that, I honestly don’t know if I could write lesbian lovers in a believable manner since I’m not attracted to women. It would be an interesting challenge that I might have to look into trying someday.

    But not today.:p



    The basic outline for the plot that I gave her, which she jumped on, was that these two girls grow up together and become as close as sisters. Once they are older they end up on either sides of a very ugly political battle that eventually escalates to civil war. Through third-party manipulations and a lot of backstabbing by the nobles who rule their corner of the world, one of the girls ends up as the well-meaning but powerless puppet-ruler. The other girl is politics-savvy enough to understand what is going on and tries to put a stop to it. For her efforts she is branded a traitor and eventually becomes an influential member of the rebellion. (This is just the bare-bones of the story.)
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2013
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  8. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    i know how you feel OP, i had someone insist i put toast monsters into mine (this was a piece id already written 10k words on already) and and like Mckk above me i used the same method of laughing acknowledging and saying id think about it, unfortunately that story met its demise about a year ago, but it could be picked up again.

    @Mckk I think us brits have several ways of saying <censored> you to people without actually saying it
     
  9. Wyr
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    Wyr Active Member

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    Toast monsters huh? I would be interested in seeing what kind of story could fit in toast monsters. ;)
     
  10. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    Yep, Toast monsters, dont ask me what planet this person was on, but it certainly werent the same one as me!
     
  11. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I reacted differently, in different situations. I got upset once, because I felt like the reader was trying to take my story away from me, but mostly, I react with amusement. I never changed my story based on that kind of feedback, though. You can't please everyone all the time, and maybe, if they read all of it, they'd realise I was right :p
     
  12. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @Wyr - your story sounds pretty awesome and yes, I can see how making the two women lesbian lovers completely do not fit the plot and would actually undermine it. In that case, I think it's just your friend latching onto what she perceives to be a "cool" idea (served with a generous dollop of stereotypes)!

    @ChaosReigns - hehehe that is very true. The one I like to explain to non-British peeps is "That's interesting." :D Non-Brits take it as a compliment usually, and I have to explain to them why it's not. I'm now giggling to myself trying to say "It's interesting" without sounding sarcastic - I really can't.
     
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  13. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    @Mckk one i like its "not being funny but...." its like <censored> you because this is what i think and thats final
     
  14. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @ChaosReigns - aah, now that reminds me of "No offence, but..." and "I don't mean to be rude, but..." I've had friends (British friends) complain about these phrases because they do perceive the upcoming piece of opinion as offensive and rude loool.

    Then I marry a Czech husband who has no such filter and go right up to a stranger and say, "That hat looks funny on you." Or something else on those lines. I'm just glad most of my friends are laid back because I do often cringe on those occasions.
     
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  15. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    LOL at the No Such filter bit!
     
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  16. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I just say, "Yeah, I can see how that would be interesting," and then don't actually do it. Life is made of little social lies. ;)
     
  17. Wyr
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    Wyr Active Member

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    Thanks again guys.:)
    In the future I’ll consider other people’s suggestions, but politely turn them down unless they make a very compelling case.


    (On a completely unrelated note, I’ve no idea how to get the quote function to work. How the heck do I get names to show up in quotes?)
     
  18. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    First, you'll want to hit the Reply button to get that post's text into your reply box. It will look this:

    [quote="Wyr, post: 1166289, member: 55722"]Thanks again guys.:)

    In the future I’ll consider other people’s suggestions, but politely turn them down unless they make a very compelling case.


    (On a completely unrelated note, I’ve no idea how to get the quote function to work. How the heck do I get names to show up in quotes?)[/quote]

    Make sure to place your response either before the opening [quote] tag or after the closing [/quote] tag, else your text will look like part of the quoted material. ;)
     
  19. Aurin
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    Aurin Member

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    I do not mind most embellishment of my characters from readers. Sometimes it's actually extremely useful, and it's an idea about that character that I didn't have before, that is like the missing link so to speak. In that case, the embellishment is wonderful.

    I do not like it, however, when the reader is very much "your character has to do it the way I want it or the highway". I have learnt that often its just this ONE reader who feels like that and not all my readers on the whole. So I've learnt that if I don't like what people suggest - and really, this goes with all critiquing - you just nod and say thank you for their input.

    All of the above has to do with before publishing... after publishing, I'd just see it as flattery.
     
  20. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    The answer to that is easy. You smile and say, "That could work, but...then it would be your story. And maybe you should write it. In my story, though, they _____(fill in as required)"
     
  21. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, one of my most helpful beta readers (and the first of them) who is a writer himself just could not accept my MC because he didn't carry (and use) a sidearm! (I made a strong case for why he didn't, so it wasn't an oversight on my part.) Furthermore, he was unhappy because my MC didn't want to hunt down and kill the 'bad guy.'

    The fact that the 'bad guy' was the MC's brother, and the events leading up to the situation were emotionally complicated, just didn't wash with my lovely beta. He kept saying that HE would have been so enraged, no matter who the bad guy was, he would just have shot him and been done with it.

    I had to tell him, gently, that as far as I was concerned, the reasons my MC did not share his view was what underpinned the story and gave it the irreconcilable conflict I was looking for. If my MC had just executed his brother in cold blood, that would have made a different story, for an entirely different character. We eventually agreed to disagree.

    When I critique, I sometimes say things like: 'what would happen if your MC did this or that instead—just a thought.' I think this sort of input is fine, especially on a WIP. But I would never insist on a change or refuse to accept the original idea, if it's what the writer wants to keep. It's his/her story, after all.
     
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