Thursday, April 12, 2018

Honoring Reader's Preferences

I’ve talked a lot about writing elitism. This time, it’s about perspective.

I can’t go more than a few days without seeing something ranting and railing about how “some readers” won’t read present tense, or 2nd person perspective, or other less common tenses. Mostly I find that it is done by writers who are pushing to have their own writing style “accepted” by more people.

I get it. Sometimes we write stuff that is a bit too far off the beaten path for the mainstream. I understand that frustration.

I like big “but”s.

BUT, when a writer does this, it doesn’t often come across as “oh, look, you should give this a chance.” It is more of a sneering, looking-down-one’s-nose rant about how the plebs just can’t understand how much they are missing. In case the point was missed, most of these call people some degree of stupid, narrow-minded, or uneducated. Because they prefer certain styles of writing.

Take a moment to think about that, from the reader’s perspective.

Any time a writer pushes the idea that you are some kind of fool for liking a specific genre, for preferring present tense over past (or vice versa), for liking the Hero’s Journey storyline format… they are insulting you for having a preference.

The funniest part is that most will backtrack and say things along the lines of “if you just give it a chance.” Funny, because people who read, tend to read a LOT. They have preferences because they’ve read a LOT. Most are willing to try new things, but few are willing to try something that they’ve tried (and disliked) before.

As a reader, I have preferences. If something sounds particularly good but is outside those preferences, I’ll still give it a go. That doesn’t change the fact that it is up to the author to make me want to leave my preferences.

One million new books every year are published. These books cross all genres, all styles. It is not up to me as a reader to throw out what I like and don’t like each and every time just to give a book a chance. It is up to me as an author to make people interested enough in my work to give it a chance.

That’s how that works.

It is also up to me as an author to accept that my style of writing, POV choice, 1st/2nd/3rd person perspective, etc, may not be what an individual reader enjoys. Accept it, and move on to the next reader, who likes the type of book I’ve written, or is at least interested in it enough to give it a chance.

My writing is not important enough to trump your right to have preferences and opinions. And vice versa.

No comments:

Post a Comment