I’m not unobjective about my stories. I sit down and try to organize a variety of impressions in my head—a snippet from this; a trailer from that; a line from this; and a random character who appeared out of nowhere. They’re all connected, otherwise I wouldn’t be thinking of them all at the same time.
Once it’s done, I pay careful attention to reader responses and compare them to what I’ve already learned from writing the story. It’s readers who are unobjective about my stories, not me. They just say whatever’s on their minds. The only reason I write any story is to find out who is there—if there’s a hidden audience, good or bad. Entertainment can be very deceptive and it’s easy for people to get roped into following something they don’t fully understand. If I know a story is good, people complaining about it is a red flag. If I know the story is boring, people praising it is a red flag. I balance what readers are doing with the content of the story and rapidly see whether this book has a bad crowd attached to it.
One thing that really alerts me to a bad crowd is abusive reader behavior. Now whiny reviews; snarling comments; and sudden, personal feedback don’t always mean the book has a bad crowd. Many times it’s just people who are disappointed it wasn’t closer to them—and based on their behavior, farther from them is a good thing. But if they’re combined with the Wicked Twin of friendly with a dose of silent, I know I’ve got a little bad egg on my hands.
The Friendly Recluse is a quieter, more latent way of being abusive. While the others storm and rant, the Friendly Recluse tries to get close to you in a hope of changing what you said or at least reinterpreting what you said while you play along. Some are also silent, not wanting to implicate themselves in the midst of all this. (A sign of guilty involvement.) Why is it that these are the only people around the book who seem to like it? Because those screaming others are really friends of the Friendly Recluse. In my years as a writer, I’ve seen this over and over. The Friendly Recluse will morph like a werewolf and suddenly join the other side. Where, of course, they really belonged the whole time.
Once I know that it's got not only people who are rude, but ones who are fake-friendly, or silent when you expected them so speak, I’ve seen enough. I retire or marginalize that story away from me and my readers. Not because I’ve been scared off, but because there are lots and lots of better stories out there that deserve more time.
And there will be more updates.
7 books published and 3 more on the way. Farmer's daughter, LOTR fan, loves to read rather than talk about reading. Always has time to finish her WIP.