One of the greatest parts of being a writer is the ability to communicate thoughts and ideas to readers. The problem is the writer and reader have differing outlooks on life; they often don’t have shared experiences upon which to draw that will help the reader make the connection the writer hopes. Most times, the reader has never met the writer in person and only knows them through their online and/or professional persona. What the writer intends to convey isn’t always what the reader interprets since they have little to no shared background.
This never occurred to me when I started my writing journey oh-so-many years ago now. At that time, my focus was on getting my stories onto the page in such a way as to tempt a publisher to take a chance on me. The stories I found the most success with were ones based upon my favorite television show at the time because the characters, situations, and back-story were all well-established. Whoever read the stories already knew and loved the characters so they would be interested in picking up the tie-in novelizations in order to explore new adventures with their beloved friends.
I’m no longer writing what I now realize was a form of subsidized fan-fiction (not that there’s anything wrong with that – I still enjoy reading fan fiction and tie-in novels, but now I’m trying to embark on my own path as a writer). Many people enjoy exploring all the ‘what ifs’ of the worlds they know and love and others enjoying reading the thought processes of people who share some background, but different overall life experiences. The differences in background become a means of exploring a shared love through new eyes.
In the case of original fiction, the well-known and well-loved characters don’t yet exist. There are no established backstories or situations for the reader to draw upon. Everything is new territory and potential readers look for stories in their favored genre that look as though they may be appealing. The writer then has to successfully draw characters and build a world for the reader to love. Creating the relationship between the reader and the characters can take time and patience and the reader has so many options from which to choose these days that they can and will give up if the story takes too long to catch their interest.
The writer must know and love their characters very well and be able to express that so the potential reader’s interest is captured right away. The writer must know the back-story in such detail that they can indicate what has happened while putting the current story into play. Choosing the right words, phrases, and overall tone is vital to catching reader interest. These facts are all either well-known or instinctive to the successful writer. Some writers, like myself, may need a little more time to wrap their mind around the concept of successful world- and character-building.
These are thoughts I’m keeping in mind as I work to create enjoyable characters and stories in the future. I’ve got to make sure my intention is clear enough for the reader to be able to interpret what I’m trying to say in such a way that they enjoy my stories and characters as much as I do.
And now…back to work!