1. Fluffywolf
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    Fluffywolf Member

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    Popularity influencing your work?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Fluffywolf, Jul 29, 2012.

    How much do you let popularity influence your work?

    Are you inclined to work towards a certain plot because you think other people will like it, or do you only care about what you want to write about?


    Personally, every time I start to write towards what I believe is more popular instead of just writing what I want, I tend to lose interest in the project.
     
  2. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I only write what I like. If I like it, I think someone else will, too. If I don't like it, I doubt anyone else will.
     
  3. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This. I think of writing as a profoundly selfish thing to do. I see no reason in going through all the skull sweat unless I'm loving it myself. If I'm only doing it because I think someone else will like it, but I don't, I'll slam on the brakes and work on something I love.
     
  4. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    When we write, we write because we have a passion and something to say. Though I consider my audience, and what they would like to see, If I'm not 95% of my audience, it doesn't matter. I write something I would like to read later. Some people will like it, others won't but if you write towards others, chances are you won't like it. And poor writing shows whe the author isn't into their work.
     
  5. Fluffywolf
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    Fluffywolf Member

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    I thought that would be the general consensus.

    I guess there'll never be a vampire story coming from me. :D
     
  6. MeganHeld
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    MeganHeld Senior Member

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    I agree with chicagoliz. I only write what I want. If I am stuck between two ideas I will ask one to two close people, normally my husband and my mom. They are honest and can tell me what they like. That is the furtherest I will go to write for someone else.
     
  7. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    From a publishing point of view, keep in mind that trends change and that a book can take a year (or more) to hit shelves.
     
  8. Rafiki
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    Rafiki Active Member

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    There was an old Cat-Dog episode where Cat and Dog receive a chance to play a concert, basically turning them into rockstars. The only problem was that neither Cat nor Dog knew how to play their instruments.

    Dog wanted to practice his drumming but was constantly being stopped by Cat. Cat felt that it was more important to practice autographs for when they became famous, viewing it as more of an inevitability than a product of hard work. The result was of course that the band failed right out of the gate and all of Cat's worrying about signatures became a moot point.

    I feel like worry about letting popularity influence your work is akin to putting the cart in front of the horse. Become a good writer first, perfect your craft, perfect your story telling. Then and only then should you start worrying about what to do with all the groupies.
     
  9. Caeben
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    Caeben Member

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    As the other posters have mentioned, I don't really take popularity into account when I write. There is one exception for me: I do like to take some popular tropes, plots, or character types and turn them upside down, subvert them, or avert them in my own work.
     
  10. BBBurke
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    BBBurke Member

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    I'll admit to being swayed by the marketplace. I have dozens of stories I want to write, some of them more mainstream and some I'm certain would find a very limited audience, if any. So I choose to start with what I think I can sell, since the hope is that will allow me to continue to write more. I don't see any problem with trying to make a living as a writer. And if that's the goal, it only seems sensible to consider popularity.

    At the same time, I tell the stories I want to tell. I write a book that I would like to read. I write things I believe in and of which I'm proud. I don't change my characters or themes to match any trends, I don't write with the thought of 'what will the audience want' in my head. I still write what I want, but I want to write a bunch of different things so it all works out in the end.
     
  11. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    Naw, I write what's inside me.
     
  12. ThievingSix
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    ThievingSix Member

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    Well then, you must have written a few anatomy text books, or horror stories.

    I think everyone to a certain degree is influenced by popular ideas, and i think its ok to represent the context of your time in the content you write. Frankenstein was written in a period of industrial revolution, hence the idea of a "mechanical" human is explored. It would have been a popular idea at the time and she's not the only writer who has explored it.
     
  13. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    If one wants to get published, one has to be aware of the marketplace. But there are a lot of stalls in that marketplace. One genre is big on zombies (at the moment). I don't write in the genre (typically) so I'm not concerned about tossing zombies into my stories. If they were big in my genre, I'd be foolish to ignore that. What I would have to look at, however, is how long these trends typically last, how great is my interest in zombies, and if I think I can write a good zombie book.

    Popularity, to me anyway, is just another avenue of ideas to explore.
     
  14. Cassiopeia Phoenix
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    Cassiopeia Phoenix Contributing Member

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    Uh... Nope. Every time I stop to think about the ideas of my stories, I think: "man, this will never get published."

    Still writing them, though, because they are what make me tick.
     
  15. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I don't think I've ever thought it, but I like to keep up with contemporary writing.
     
  16. Bagabon
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    Bagabon Banned

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    I guess I'd like to say I write only what I want. But in all honesty, when I'm reading over a draft I ask myself if others would enjoy it. But truly, it comes down to whether I enjoy writing it or not. That's the only time I get excited when writing, when I really feel proud of myself, is when I can read it and enjoy it. So even if I did write purely for the audience, I would do a terrible job. When I'm writing, I'm writing a book that I wish existed, that I could read...
     
  17. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    When I was younger I used to jump on the band wagon of what was going on - I liked Sweet Valley High , so I wanted to write something like it - err - rip it off is more like it. I couldn't separate my reading habits from my writing. The more I distanced myself from popular fiction , the broader my outlook and reading habits became, something marvelous happened - my ideas became my own.

    I no longer needed to be part of a popular pack , my influence could come from anything, from any decade, any seemingly outmoded
    genre , a line of poetry , a piece of forgotten literature and stand on it's own.

    I don't stop to think whether someone else will like - I like it - I'm writing it - good enough for me.
     
  18. MistKestrel
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    I only write what I like, to be honest I don't like many popular books. If I only wrote what was popular, I would never enjoy writing.
     
  19. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    I agree with this.

    But I also disagree with it.

    Jason Segel was saying that he engineered the ending of Five Year Engagement to suit the audience.

    You have to consider the audience too. They are the other half of the equation.

    It's an age-old question. Do you create a product and push it to market or do you let the market influence product creation.
     
  20. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is somewhat dependent on your goal. Big-studio Hollywood films are a different ballgame. If you've reached a point where you're writing/producing something artistic purely or primarily to make the maximum amount of money possible, then yes, you do need to play to the audience, and doing so means pandering to the lowest common denominator. If you're trying to maintain artistic integrity, then you should stick with your vision of the story.
     
  21. BBBurke
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    BBBurke Member

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    I think many of us write to share ideas with our potential audience. Isn't that one of the joys of writing? And wanting to make money off your hard work is a natural and fine thing. Even if that isn't your 'primary' goal, it still makes sense to pay attention to your readers. And I don't think that always means pandering to the lowest common denominator. Something can be good and popular. I think there's a lot of integrity and value in trying to produce something that other people will enjoy and hopefully pay for. There's a difference between selling out and paying attention to your audience (though maybe it's hard to say where that line is crossed).
     
  22. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think it's a matter of 'pandering' if one considers the audience while writing. After all, most of us would prefer that people read our books. I don't think it's at all impossible to "maintain artistic integrity" and give the audience what they're looking for at the same time.
     
  23. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    To clarify: I was specifically thinking of Big Hollywood studios, who absolutely do pander to the lowest common denominator. There is obviously a continuum and therefore varying degrees of writing to entertain a particular market versus writing a story conceived by the author. Ideally what the audience wants overlaps with what the author wants to say. When these diverge, that's where the question of whether the author is "selling out" arises.

    There's a very creative series on Showtime right now called Episodes. Its about some British television producers who created a well-regarded television program about a headmaster and teen boys at a boarding school. An American television studio buys the rights to it and everything about the show is changed beyond all recognition, to the horror of the original producers. They grudgingly accept this because they are getting some fame and money, but they are upset about the terrible critical reviews, because they agree with them.

    I'm not judging anyone who is in a position to make more money by playing to an audience. There is certainly room for both. But let's be realistic. Most of the people who are on this forum aren't in a position where they have been so successful that Hollywood studios are willing to accept just about any script they produce. For most of us right now, it's about the art and the craft.
     
  24. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    But by that very statement, it sounds as if you are. I'm not saying the author of a "Frankenstein" should change the book to another "Twilight" to get more readers. But I am saying that without that audience there's no reason to publish. We should respect them and not just assume we have to somehow downgrade our work to please them. As someone else mentioned - the audience is part of the equation.
     
  25. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    All I can say is that if I myself were in a position where I was so successful that I could make money by playing to an audience I would. I made the statement that I'm not judging anyone who is in said position and I do not intend to imply anything else. Take that for whatever it's worth. Interpret it however you like.

    There are all kinds of motivations for writing. Whatever works for each particular writer and makes them happy is what they should do. Generally what makes writers happiest is writing the story that they themselves want to tell. If there is only a remote chance that writing a particular story will garner wealth and fame for the writer, then the writer may as well write what he wants to write. Similarly, I suppose if you already have an audience, and what makes you happiest is to give the audience what they want, then go ahead. I think most of us on this forum don't have an audience yet. Therefore, the primary consideration should be what makes the writer happy. If there are members of this forum who already have an audience for their writing, and they believe that the audience would be displeased and upset by a particular action or outcome in your story, they can go ahead and take that into consideration. (My understanding is that J.K. Rowling did not do this, and had several plot twists that upset many fans. I don't recall for sure and haven't read any of her books, so I can't recall with certainty.)

    For me, at this point, my potential readers' anticipated desires do not figure into what I write. If I ever get to a point where I am commercially successful, that might change. If that happens, my motivations and circumstances will be different than they are right now. Right now, I'm not anticipating that that scenario is likely.
     

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