Wednesday, August 03, 2022

IWSG: Who Do You Write For?

How is it August already? It feels like July just started, but I've already started preparing for my son's return to school. (Of course, I normally start preparing for that as soon as school lets out.) Anyway, it's also time to prepare for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post. Learn more about the IWSG on their website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Here's our question for August: When you set out to write a story, do you try to be more original or do you try to give readers what they want?

I have to be honest: part of the reason I write is because I can't always find the stories I want to read. The tropes that appeal to many readers don't always appeal to me. (For example, I personally don't care about physically attractive romantic interests who are controlling jerks. Once they make a poor first impression on me, they have a hard time winning me over. I prefer more equal relationships where the two people engage in banter.) However, I think whenever you write in a particular genre, you do need to meet certain criteria if you want to avoid reader rejection. For example, romances require a Happily Ever After or at least a Happy For Now ending. Genres like fantasy and science fiction certainly have their share of tropes, but originality has a place there. For example, the growing interest in genres like hopepunk and solarpunk show that many people are looking for stories that offer solutions to the problem of climate change, even if these solutions require changes in our way of thinking. Cozy mysteries do seem to have a more defined set of reader expectations: it's not just the mystery aspect, but there are also certain conventions about the setting, characters, and implied lifestyle that readers expect. I am trying to adhere a bit closer to genre conventions with my cozy mystery, but there are places within those parameters that offer me a chance to tell my version of these stories.

In general, I think most readers want to read the same types of stories many times. (I'm going through a similar phase in that I want to read cozy mysteries more than anything else.) They can offer comfort and predictability in an uncomfortable and unpredictable world. However, it takes something original to deal with an unpredictable world, and we all need to shake up our routines occasionally to change up our thinking. There's a need for writing original works and also for those that meet reader desires. Whenever someone offers you a dichotomy, seek a balanced, third way instead.

Where do you stand on the spectrum? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I started writing to read stories I couldn't find elsewhere.
Some genres do offer a bit more flexibility than others.

Lisa said...

I go through phases where I want to read things that, like you mentioned, make me feel safe in a unpredictable reality. I also like to try new subjects out to learn and just enjoy the newness!

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