Writing for a wide audience.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Here’s one thing I learned at the writer’s conference. In truth, I already felt this way, but it was nice to hear it from someone else’s mouth. Dave Farland taught this and here is how I understood it in my own words....

There are two lines of thought authors have: One that says their characters tell them what they do, even if they do something so offensive the readers are turned off by it.

And the other: You need to be true to your characters, HOWEVER you are the author and if you expect to actually sell books then you control how you draw your characters so more readers can relate to them.

I know that this sort of thinking is viewed as major taboo to many authors. But it makes total sense to me. It’s not to say your characters can’t make mistakes or can’t do bad things. Dave Farland told a story that helps illustrate this. He said there was an author who wrote a book, this book was picked up by an agent and sold to a publisher. The publisher asked for some edits. Then the author made changes the publisher did not ask for. Basically, they made the MC, who was a child around the age of 13 sleep with an adult. This author used the excuse of—Well, my character said they would do it....

Oh, please! Of course the publisher was not pleased either because the book was then not what they’d purchased. And no reader would accept something like that either, at least none that I know of. Readers don’t care what authors seem to think the character said. They’re still characters in your head and YOU, as the author, control how you draw them, they don’t control how your write.

Yes, writing is an art form, and authors tend to know their characters better than anyone else. But writing is, well for most authors, also a business. If you expect to make money and write something which appeals to a wide audience then it’s really not best to offend the reader.
kbrebes said...

Nice post. David Farland-Wolverton teaches great things! Thanks for relaying them to us!