Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Thought Bubbles

This was not quite the article I was looking for, but it covers the gist of it. Not having people disagree with and criticize you is bad for you as a person. More importantly, it is also bad for you as a writer.

For example, I know very few people who vote conservatively. Those I know who do are mostly relatives, or not people I discuss politics with on any kind of regular basis. This creates a thought-bubble for me, where everyone I discuss politics with is fairly liberal. This leads to things like blank incomprehension when my favoured party does not win elections. Blank incomprehension is bad, and means I am not paying attention and probably cannot write about the topic effectively.

If I do the same sort of things in writing, that means I will end up mostly with second readers (beta-readers) who agree with me or have a similar style. With similarities in style, they are less likely to notice weaknesses in mine. That would lead to putting inferior work out into the world, which would be terrible.

I am lucky enough to have a fairly wide circle of friends who write and are online a lot. So, when I finished a short story I wanted to post for someone's birthday, only a couple hours before the end of that birthday, it was to the online writer-friends I turned for feedback. Of those people who were on, one flatly refuses to read fanfiction, while another has a hard time with graphic medical things (my story was both fanfiction and graphically medical). Another eschewed fanfiction in general, probably wouldn't object to reading it from me, but has enough antipathy to some of the plot elements that their critique would be more focused on that than on the writing. Another, newly acquired, I hadn't ever seen critique from, so I was not completely sure of it's potential utility. I asked Pat and Theodore to read it, because even though Pat as a rule doesn't read fanfiction, he's fast and can concentrate on technical things, and Theodore is in the same fandom and was able to comment on things like consistent memetics in the story universe.

Both of them had minor issues with something (different somethings). Pat's was based on terrible imagery, and I ended up not taking his advice because the original amused me too much and was also something of a fandom joke. Theodore's was based on consistency, but we discussed it and deemed it plausible given other factors. This disagreement and discussion made me feel more confident in the story, because they both have different approaches to writing than I do, and so if this was the most they could come up with to nitpick, then I was probably doing reasonably well.

Am I still in a thought-bubble as relates to writing? Quite possibly. I am doing my best to ameliorate that, though - which is why comments on the pieces I post on Sundays will always be welcome.

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