1. Masked Mole
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    Masked Mole Contributing Member

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    Writing and Expectations

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Masked Mole, May 13, 2015.

    Have you ever written something that you expected people to really enjoy, but it fell flat? Also, have you ever written something you thought would be terrible, and people loved it?
    I have experienced both, even though I have a pretty good filter for what's good and bad.
    I realize that the essence of any art form will be mixed reviews. Literature is subjective, and therefore some people will like it and some people won't. I'm talking about an unexpected opinion someone gave that was especially strong, one way or the other.
     
  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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    Heh...
    Someone recently told me my horror piece was too romantic.
    I never even realized there had been romance in it >.>
     
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  3. Masked Mole
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    Masked Mole Contributing Member

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    Wow. That is unexpected. You win the prize, I think.
     
  4. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Yay!
    Gold medal for me :3
     
  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    So far, my son likes what I write. I think the critique group likes it. I love it. And I'm confident it's at least going to be liked by some people, hopefully a lot of people. But all people don't like all authors all the time. So I plan to ignore in stride anyone who doesn't like my finished product. :)
     
  6. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I'm not being a dick when I say this, but that happens all the time with pretty much everything I write. My first script seemed like a pile of crap, but the first producer to read it wanted to make it (we didn't end up making it but that's a long story) and many others afterwards gave it strong praise and I got grants and other success with it. My first manuscript is still shit in my opinion, but I won a University writing competition with it and was praised by the professors. My second manuscript, my WIP, has always felt like a gigantic, chaotic, emotionally exploitative mess. But some people think it's fantastic. I took it to a writing workshop and they adored it. I was the only writer who's work, 'didn't need to be work-shopped.' But I honestly still cringe when I read certain chapters and am struggling to be satisfied. But I hate reading, so that doesn't help.

    Hell, just look at all my poetry entries that won here. All 'spur of the moment' silly pieces that for some reason people liked. But my poetry is stupid.
     
  7. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    My American friend loves pretty much everything I write and finds it intriguing. We are obviously on the same wavelength.
    Generally speaking, the reception of my work oscilates somewhere between irritation and indifference with a few glimmers of hope that
    I might develop my writing skills into something that one day will be at least readable.
     
  8. VirtuallyRealistic
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    VirtuallyRealistic Active Member

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    That's the Dunning-Kruger effect at work. Highly skilled individuals tend to underestimate their abilities, while unskilled people tend to overestimate their abilities.

    More on this if you're interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect
     
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  9. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Jee, I once wrote a short story called "Trains" - one elaborated metaphor of life. I wrote it at University five years ago, prehistory in my writing development.
    I gave so much of myself into it that whoever read it was, just as your audience, blasted, blown away by the depth of emotion in it. I believe the cringy
    reaction just testifies to it being a good piece of writing. That it's not shallow, you know. It's principially a good thing.

    @VirtuallyRealistic

    How in the heck do you find yourself in a reality-based position, not self-overestimated or underestimated? I've always felt I was partially brilliant and partially sucker at writing.
     
  10. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Part of my problem, I believe, is that I don't understand what it is I'm exactly doing. I don't really understand, follow, or care for the rules of fiction writing. I'm stumbling along on gut feeling, and when I start to realize the potential of the work and the complexity of it's themes I feel that it's momentum is going beyond my capabilities. All I end up seeing is a failure to reach it's deserved potential, because while the successful authors have a very good understanding of how to write, the structure and style, I'm just pant-sing it.
     
  11. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Keep on trying, I guess. You already seem to have a deep understanding of your prose's weak points. Isn't that a good first step?
     
  12. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That honestly sounds like you've set the bar ridiculously high for yourself - however, if you're still writing then the high bar isn't necessarily a bad thing :) I seems like it's not so much that you genuinely believe your work is crap - but rather that you can see it can be and should be so much better than it is, and as such you are dissastisfied and still trying to reach that level, as you say.

    You've sought to get your work made/published, which in my opinion tells me you don't actually think it's a pile of shite - no one seeks to publish shite if they genuinely think that is all it is.

    However, you see the flaws, you see where it should go, and you're working hard at it. Truth is, isn't that the attitude of every good writer in the first place?

    Not caring for the rules of fiction doesn't equal not understanding it - you probably do have some idea of it even if you've never pinpointed it. Just because a gut feeling has never been analysed and put into words doesn't mean that that gut feeling doesn't represent some form of understanding. I mean, we've seen our share of newbies on the forum - not everyone's gut leads them to write well. While I do believe writing is to some extent intuition, it takes time and understanding of the craft to hone that intuition into an accurate tool you can trust and be guided by, I think. In other words, I don't think intuition is all feeling-based, but rather some kinda natural filter that improves with knowledge.

    Anyway writing expectations as per the OP - I've had negative feedback on pieces I've liked, and I've had whooping praise on pieces I've liked. I take negative feedback as standard - there will always be someone who doesn't like it and there will always be something to improve on, so I'm almost never surprised by negative feedback. I have been surprised by just how much someone has liked my work, however, because even though I equally love the work I submitted, I really wasn't expecting someone else to love it as I do. I assumed they would likely enjoy it and then give me a few pointers to improve, rather than adore it.
     
  13. VirtuallyRealistic
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    VirtuallyRealistic Active Member

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    I tend to agree with you. In most hobbies I take up I feel genius at times, and feeble-minded at others.

    However, I underestimate my ability as a programmer regularly, so I take this to mean I'm quite good at it. :p
     
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  14. Ivana
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    Ivana Contributing Member

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    I'm confident that when you finish writing your manuscript, it's only half a work done. The other half gets created in the reader's mind. So it depends on a reader, really. Of course, praises feel good, but I know some day there will be (a lot of) people who'll think it's a complete bullshit. And that's perfectly fine. Luckily for me, so far all of my beta readers loved my book. What's important now is how agents and publishers will feel about it.
     
  15. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    You seem to be pretty darn serious about your work being published. For my part, I have to admit I have a hard time imagining my work ever gets published unless I am exposed to a huge, sickening amount of quality literature and some time spent in an English speaking country to foster natural-sounding style.

    But mostly, I've got a hard time ever getting down to writing in English as even at the best of times I find it too rudimentary and simplicist, which discourages me heaps. Sometimes it feels like a rambling parrot reiterating the same old song.
     
  16. Ivana
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    Ivana Contributing Member

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    Hm... I guess I am serious about it. :D I know it'll be a long way, but I also always felt that writing is what I'm suppose to do in my life.
    English is an obvious obstacle for me, that's why I'm going to translate my work first (I write in Serbian).
     
  17. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    I know you're Serbian. I rember :)
    Not that I take English as an obstacle either, at least I don't pereceive it as such, it's that unless my prose is excellent, I don't feel comfortable at offering to a foreign publisher.
     
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  18. Masked Mole
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    Masked Mole Contributing Member

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    I shared a short story with one of my friends, and he was convinced afterward that:
    A. I was smarter than him (which I'm not, by a longshot)
    B. I'm always incredibly subtle
    He's carried B into everything I've given him since. It's strange. Those were two things I definitely didn't expect from him.
    By the way, this thread really blew up overnight. Good job, guys.
     
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  19. Ivana
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    Ivana Contributing Member

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    I'm glad you remember :)
    Hm.. Excellent prose. What does that even mean? Don't be too harsh on yourself. Remember that your publisher has a team of editors, whose job is to correct and polish your manuscript if necessary. If everyone would write an excelent, flawless prose, what would be their job?
    Plus, I wouldn't call some world wide known bestsellers "excellent". :p But still they brought fortune to their creators.
    I think the great, imaginative plot, some strong characters and, of course, a great writing skill is what they all search in manuscripts. But not for you to be perfect. There's no such a thing.
    He he.. After having read my ms, one of my high school friends told me "It is such an honour knowing you." I was like :eek::bigoops::rolleyes: in that order. :D
     
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  20. Masked Mole
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    Masked Mole Contributing Member

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    My friend just went home and stared into space, sitting on the couch. I think I broke him.
     
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  21. Ivana
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    Ivana Contributing Member

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    @Hwaigon Do you write in English or...?
     
  22. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Based on quite a lot of feedback, I can quite safely say @T.Trian and I write pretty okay-ishly. Decently. Not spectacularly, not expertly, but on a level that is sufficient for genre fiction. Obviously there's room for improvement -- and both of us want to constantly improve as writers. But I think the problem (challenge?) is the content, and I always expect beta-readers to balk at it, dislike it, or 'meh' it. Sure, I love it, the WIP looks like us, its creators, it's exactly what you'd expect to come from our minds, and I guess that's the important thing... But every time we send a new draft to old or new beta-readers, I expect them to say something less than favorable about it.

    Some have liked it. It has surprised me... given me some hope. :)
     
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  23. Ivana
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    Ivana Contributing Member

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    Why do you always expect beta readers to dislike it? What's the content?
    To be honest, when I was writing my first book, I always tried to write without ever boring myself. Also, I always had, in some part of my mind, a thought about the commercial part of everything. Sooo, I knew it'll have to be sellable. I think that's why I got so many positive reviews. They all agreed in one thing - it is a "page-turner", which is what I was aiming for.
     
  24. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It doesn't bore us, and it's definitely been written and structured in a formulaic way in the sense that every scene has a purpose, there're plenty of hooks, and at one point, there were even too many things "up in the air" waiting to be resolved. As much as people seem to dislike how-tos for creative writing, they offer very useful tools for writers. It's just up to the writer to decide how to use them.

    However, some of the subjects and themes are quite dark and appalling (gang violence, prostitution, loneliness, loss of loved ones and innocence etc.), and our creed is to keep things realistic and not glamorize, so... it gets ugly. Also, the genre is space opera/military sci-fi (I guess), and especially the former is not exactly known for realism. Also, there's typical turn-off stuff for readers not familiar with the genre like acronyms and gun porn. Obviously especially the former can be done in moderation, and we've worked hard to nigh on shoe-horn some of the terms, while with the latter I guess it's the matter of taste. I like to know which sniper rifle or caliber the given character is using, adds to the authenticity, while I guess most readers find it superfluous.

    The closest series I can think of are Elizabeth Moon's Vatta and Serrano series, but even they're relatively nice in comparison.

    So I guess that's where my somewhat negative expectations come from. Sure, there's been more positive than negative feedback, yet I somehow fear the worst every time nonetheless. :p
     
  25. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    I do. I've put up some of my prosey pieces here :)
     

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