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No One Cares About Your Story

Journal Entry: Sat Jan 12, 2013, 4:21 PM

GOOD NEWS: This is perfectly normal!


I can't remember the source, but a few years ago I read this famous author's account of how it felt to have his first book come out, and he mentioned buying a copy himself because he was afraid no one would take an interest. Now this is a guy who managed to get not only an agency but a publisher (which is a whole pile of people who were like yesplz), and he's still afraid readers won't care. I was like, 'whoa mind blown.'

But anyway, the fact is that we are all strangers on the Internet and, by default, there is no reason for you to read my stuff or vice-versa. If you went and stood in Times Square with copies of your latest story, how many people would give you more than a passing glance? And how many of those people would get to the end of your work, and how many of those would offer critical feedback?

And, if you were one of the passersby, whom would you stop for?



Okay, I'm done scaring the shit out of you. That's not the point of this journal, the point is to look at ways to make people care. Success not guaranteed.



How to Make People Care About Your Story


I had this long-ass spiel planned (and drafted, even), but honestly it all just boils down to respect.



1. Respect your readers.

Don't try to lord your cleverness over them, or expect them to automatically be as invested in your work as you are (did they spend twenty hours every week agonising over writing it? No they did not). Keep in mind that these are people with lives, and it's quite possible they have just as much of their own material to freak out over.

So how do you get them past that? By a) being a good writer and b) taking an interest in their lives.

Don't expect everything to fall into your lap. Communication goes both ways. I mean, how many times have you left a great critique that someone really appreciated and then did nothing with? It's happened to me more than once, and each successive time has soured me on bothering with more of that person's work. I still leave Goodreads reviews without expecting a pat on the head, so a well-done piece of work does outrank a 'wah wah this person was a jerk,' but unless you are 100% sure that you are that talented genius, don't be a dick.

FYI, it's never a 100% thing.



2. Respect the craft.

Everyone learns how to write in school.

Everyone learns how to write for school in school.

You may be one of those lucky bastards with a creative writing elective or even majoring in the field, but that's the exception, not the rule.

Creative writing is its own discipline, and getting an A in English class has little to do with it. I don't get how so many people equate being okay at writing essays or reading analysis with writing stories, but yeah. Stop doing that.

Yes, you can translate skills from one side to the other, and being able to analyze what you're reading is always important, but respect the fact that creative writing is as much an art form as drawing, and that if holding a pencil doesn't make you a master of drawing, being able to type words isn't going to toss creative writing into your lap, either.

Aside from this, you need to want to improve. I mentioned 'being a good writer' above, so it's even tied into respecting your audience, but if you really care about this being a thing that defines you, you have to be willing to do your own research. No excuses. Learn to use Google. Listen to good advice even if it feels like a slap on the bum.



3. Respect yourself.

Your words don't define you as a person, okay? Me telling you that your story is flawed shouldn't make you feel bad, it should make you want to do better. There's nothing wrong with caring about your work, but there is something wrong with treating every word of criticism like a stab wound. And with thinking that you're hopeless, the fact that you weren't a child genius is going to screw you over, you can never be awesome, blah blah blah.

(I want my writing to be perfect so it reflects well on me. Why? Because my ego is the size of a fucking mountain.)

You're not ink on paper. You're a person. Words are your medium of choice to showcase yourself, your ideas, and/or your views. There's no way it's going to be perfect from the beginning, and when someone tells you where you've gone wrong, pay close attention. Not because they're somehow better than you, but because wanting to be the best you can be means hunting down all your weaknesses.

Get your chin up and make your writing as awesome as your self.




GOOD LUCK, NERDS.





Add a Comment:
 
:iconreddzartz:
ReddZArtz Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2018  Student General Artist
When I was in elementary/middle school and writing my own stories, my teachers always told me how good they were. Looking back at my old stories, they were really really shitty. It made me lose some of my confidence in my writing abilities since I've always been told I was talented, but it's a slap in the face to learn that I kinda wasn't. I think maybe they should've helped me make them better and critiqued the stories, but maybe they thought it would just discourage me from writing?? I don't know... What are your thoughts? Are teachers too lenient when it comes to these things?
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
I think you get real critique when there's full confidence that a) everyone has basic skills down and b) everyone is ready to improve. I didn't take creative writing in college, but my oil painting class crits were definitely more extensive than the foundational/intro courses. I mean, you do have to crit to the level someone's at, although I don't think telling someone they're great when they're not is helpful.

I will add that no one ever told me my poetry was trash - but it was all written for assignments, and I met the parameters, so frankly not sure quality was a consideration at all.
Reply
:iconskipback:
SkipBack Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Well, now I feel bad about myself. Congratulations, neurotype.
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm sorry the message past the title was unclear for you.
Reply
:iconskipback:
SkipBack Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
No, it was clear. I was stabbed threw the heart.
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Given the opening sarcasm, I think you can help yourself out of this.
Reply
:iconskipback:
SkipBack Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
I've read the title and that's what caught my eye. Then after reading, I was stabbed through the heart with a harpoon. I'm fourteen! You have to know what makes people break.
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
I suggest you talk to your friends about this.
Reply
:iconskipback:
SkipBack Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Alright. *Gives you a small hug* Thanks for that advice.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Good luck.
Reply
:iconwill-reierson:
Will-Reierson Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2017   Writer
This is the most click-bait title I've seen on DA, but hey, it's a damn good post, so you are 100% justified! Wait...its never a 100% thing...

...DAMMIT
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
hee

ehehehehehee
Reply
:iconwill-reierson:
Will-Reierson Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2017   Writer
:trollface: heheheheheheheheh-*COUGH*-eheheheh
Reply
:iconilovechu:
Ilovechu Featured By Owner Edited May 22, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
It's funny, about a while ago I had stumbled upon this topic (of course ask me where and I'll have no idea) and it is actually very truthful. If any thing I have learned about writers (not all -- just a lot of the ones I know) is that we are such emotional, anxious people. I mean that in the most absolute loving way, I swear! From the several friends that I know that have managed to publish do this very same thing! It's natural feeling to have with the craft we have.

Very thorough and engaging advice, thanks ;)
Reply
:iconflintpokemaster718:
Flintpokemaster718 Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2017
>Get your chin up and make your writing as awesome as your self.
>
your self

the irony
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
That's intentional, dude.
Reply
:iconjoethelozgeek:
JoetheLoZgeek Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2017
I read this and then thought to myself, "Y'know, this person may be a genius." For some reason, I found this entertaining (dunno why, I don't think that was you intention.) and useful. 
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
haha, well thanks! It is meant to be entertaining, I'm glad you picked up on that :D
Reply
:iconstargazzer811:
Stargazzer811 Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2015
As a writer of fan fiction for Star Trek, I follow the above rules to the letter. Things start out slow but eventually I know if I keep doing my best and help my readers enjoy my work, I'll make it.
Reply
:iconajb-2k3:
ajb-2k3 Featured By Owner Edited Aug 21, 2014
1, So true. I hand out my work and let the reader tell me if its good or not. if its crap, I ask them to point out all the issues then thai ten for their time!
2, I flunked GCSE English and swore never to write again!
3, ROFL, again so true.

Some people need to grow a pair and learn that there work will be shite until someone says otherwise!

The only way to get readers is to learn about being a sells person and push interest i your work wherever possible.
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
:lol: good shit.
Reply
:iconzortharg:
zortharg Featured By Owner May 2, 2014
Except for one problem. You're ASSUMING that ANYONE is reading my stuff. I could be the best writer in the world and it wouldn't make a difference if not even ONE asshole comes and reads it to troll me about being a bad writer and to serve as a critic and a warning to others to steer clear of my garbage. If NO ONE reads it, it doesn't matter what I write.

So NO. This is ALL bad advice. Following it will not accomplish anything. This is advice for a bad writer who gets lots and lots of undue attention, not anyone, good or bad, who gets none at all. Which is what actually happens here in reality.
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner May 2, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I have no interest in being the target for your frustration with your own situation. So either recognize that you can reach out and ask how to deal with it, or come up with a more relevant comment.
Reply
:iconakatsukigirl47:
AKATSUKIGIRL47 Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
... Well i have nothing to say.

SO it appears that me being a writer is nothing then?
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm not really sure how you got there? :confused:
Reply
:iconakatsukigirl47:
AKATSUKIGIRL47 Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
i saw the article in the deviantart gallery thing, and I read it. I've been a writer since 2008
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I meant in reference to your first comment on this ^^;
Reply
:iconakatsukigirl47:
AKATSUKIGIRL47 Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
oh this is the first time i seen this
Reply
:iconmomojiro:
Momojiro Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013  Student Writer
This is really well written. Super helpful too! :)
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Glad to hear it :D
Reply
:iconradiuszero:
RadiusZero Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2013
You forgot to include the 'holding your story at ransom if you don't recieve x-amount of comments' rule. :XD: I go to sites like ff.net and it always pisses me off when I see writers write that crap. Automatically, I'm turned off. I think the worse offender I saw was an author DEMANDING the readers to read her personal note prior to the start of her story (which was ridiculously long and did nothing for her - it was more bitching and complaining, actually). To make matters worse, at the end of her chapter she stated how she wouldn't upload the next chapter until she recieved x-amount of comments. :shrug:

Granted, I can understand the frustration of not getting feedback/support and why authors feel the need to hold their stories at ransom. It happens in fanfics where I see stories recieve 300+ faves/reviews simply because they got a favorite pairing with a favorite topic (ex: time-travel fanfics for FF7 - god, that's like crack to an FF7 addict :P). The grammer could be crap and the story very typical, but because people like a specific pairing and certain plotline they're all over it like peanut butter on jam. Meanwhile, fanfics with original or controversial ideas get overlooked. Many readers are also awfully impatient. There are plenty of stories I follow that I think are brilliant and amazing. Their chapters are well thought-out and fresh. However, readers won't touch them because they're too impatient to wait for the next 25-paged chapter a week later. Authors have lives too. They can't whip out a 25-paged chapter within two hours. :P Of course, long stories have the extra challenge of keeping readers interested. Many readers don't want to bother waiting for a well-paced story to resolve itself. They want the interesting plot-lines/cliff-hangers *immediately* settled in the next chapter. There is no time for proper build-up. They want things NOW-NOW-NOW. I used to wonder why it was hard finding good quality fanfics. And now I know. It's a bit unfair to the author to have to rush things. Worse, the story suffers. Just the other day I stumbled across a real potential gem. I wasn't a big fan of a certain character. But the writer really got me glued with solid characterization and an interesting premise that I actually started to care for said character. With each chapter, I enjoyed the amount of depth she put in it. It was obvious she took great care and love in her work. But then I got to the last two chapters and scratched my head. :( Those two chapters were extremely short, had little description, and rushed some very important scenes that I felt required more build-up. Upon investigation, I learned from the author that she had taken a poll and asked readers what they preferred: long, complex chapters with delayed updates? Or quick, fast chapters with short updates? Surprise-surprise, many readers wanted NOW-NOW-NOW. :shrug: This was a case where the writer sacrificed quality over quanity in effort to appease her readers.

I state this because authors need to accept that readers can be funny (and not everything they say/demand may serve the best interest of the story, only their own personal interest). Even if an authory follow steps a-b-c, they may still not get the amount of support they want. It has nothing to do with the quality of the work. It's got to do with readers' personal preferences actually. I've come to know this based on my own experience. I had to take a break from posting my epic long fanfic because I saw many people drop/unfollow it after my last update and got a bit depressed. I love the story and continue to write it for me. But I haven't posted my next chapters online because I'm trying to get out of my funk. Out of courtesy, I informed my readers about my hiatus on my author's page (I didn't want to post the announcement on my update since I didn't want it to distract from the story and create drama, lol). I gave myself a month to decide whether to take it down from the site or not; I wanted to reach my decision with a level-head. As the weeks have done by, I'm thinking I should start posting the story again. Many people have noted me and I feel guilty for letting at few departed comrades get the best of me. I'm also coming to accept that, even with the unfollows and lack of support, my story *is* successful. For a while, I thought the unfollows meant my story 'sucked' and that people had enough of it. Which may be true. Still... Even with losing some of my readers and still struggling to reach a bigger audience, I did manage to obtain a core readership that accepts my controversial ideas as they are. And given that my story is over 550+ pages long? Um, yeah, I think I did an impressive feat. :roftl: Not many readers would take the time to invest in a monstrous story like that, which is all the more reason to finish what I started.

I mention all this because I think it's important that writers understand there are different types of success. This journal is all about what not to do in an effort to gain a readership. But it also serves to provide hope to authors who wonder why their stories aren't as successful as others. In truth, they may *already* be successful. But not in the way the author originally thought it would be. They may not have 300+ followers/faves. They may not have their story circulating everywhere on the web. They may not be the talk of the town. However, if they managed to step outta the box and pose some fun/controversial concepts and STILL have a few strong readers who are in it for the long haul? Well, that's its own success. Right? :)
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I've never actually met people like that. I have a suspicion it's because they're not good enough writers/artists to achieve success without being massive blackmailers/attention whores :P

I think the biggest problem with fanfiction is that you have two very competitive interests. One, the wish fulfillment part that makes people favorite just because it's their OTP. But on the other side, good writers want to craft a good story, which generally breaks wish fulfillment because deus ex machina to solve everything is no longer an option. It's a shame people feel the need to reduce quality just to appeal, though.

Yes, it's really important to be clear on whom you're writing for! I think if someone wants to pander, that's their right. But if you're not aware of what that entails to start with, it's going to cause you a lot of grief in the long run. And more so if you drop what is best about your story just because you're afraid of losing fans or whatever.

It totally is. :highfive:
Reply
:iconultimate-glaceon:
Ultimate-Glaceon Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Mind = blown
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
:D
Reply
:iconultimate-glaceon:
Ultimate-Glaceon Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Most deviants are flipping retarded and run behind a tree when confronted
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Eh, it's not stupidity so much as just no idea on how to deal with someone not being a beacon of love and support. I think this is the first website for a lot of kids, which is actually a terrible idea.
Reply
:iconultimate-glaceon:
Ultimate-Glaceon Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Depends on where you're coming from here...
Reply
:iconhttpkirby:
httpkirby Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That is an ironic icon when you say "beacon of love"...
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
?
Reply
:iconcritexmind:
CritexMind Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Very interesting article. Faving it.
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
:D
Reply
:iconlotusyui:
lotusyui Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Thanks for posting this. I actually was nervous in posting my story (which i'm currently working on.) because I was afraid that no one would read it. But now, I have the motivation to continue posting and finish what I started. ^_^
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
:)
Reply
:iconlotusyui:
lotusyui Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2013  Student Digital Artist
:la:
Reply
:iconhefeigal:
hefeigal Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
This is awesome!
I agree with everything written, especially 'Respect the craft'. Even my English teacher has admitted that she can't write. I mean, just because you know what an adverb is and how prepositions and conjunctions work (I admit, I do not) doesn't make you Stephen King II.

Love the GIFs too, by the way. The last one is great. :la:

So, thanks for posting this! I actually might print it out and put it somewhere where I will see it ALL THE TIME. Might be good for me. :D
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
That's awesome :iconepichighfiveplz:
Reply
:iconhefeigal:
hefeigal Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
:highfive:
Reply
:iconmayjasmine:
MayJasmine Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow, this is a really inspiring journal! Thank you so much for writing this. Yes, researching is a big MUST for a writer! And I do agree that while criticisms may be painful, they are helpful like sharpeners are helpful for a dull or new pencil. There should always be a little consideration though, some people are too sensitive, but the sensitive people also need to toughen up if they want to be better. :D

I also agree with respecting your readers! I mean, all readers have lives, and so spending time reading your story and commenting on it is actually a big thing. :heart:
Again, thanks for this! I should really keep this in mind. :aww:
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm glad it helped you! :love:

YES. Sensitivity is all across the board a bad thing. I mean, in business...if they tell you to shape up, you don't get to cry, you either shape up or you're out.

:w00t:
Reply
:iconmayjasmine:
MayJasmine Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Totally helped me! I'm more inspired to actually write now. :heart:

That's probably one of the major weaknesses I have to overcome! I've tried so hard to be less sensitive, and I think I'm going fine... but I'm still sensitive! But I do take critiques if they're nicely-worded, sincere, and/or true. I've encountered someone who critiqued me before and we've actually been okay and I really learned from it!

Thanks for the encouraging words, I'll keep that in mind! :w00t:
Reply
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