Friday, November 25, 2011

The Story That Became A Story

Previously I had written a fictional story and placed it here on my blog. Several people had read it and enjoyed it. In an effort to gain more readers for the blog I decided to submit the story to a blog of English speaking writers based in Peru. My thinking was that perhaps I could expose my writing to more people and gain some constructive criticism that would help improve the story. I did this on a whim and didn't really read the kind of stories that they wrote which would have helped me in the long run.

When I received the criticism from three of the writers I was stunned at what they said. As a matter of fact, I had trouble getting through the volumes of notes that they left because of how angry it made me. Then I had to sit back and think about why I was so angry when reading their comments. Was it just because it was criticism? Was that what I was bristling about? It was not, after all I was expecting some criticism, just not that massive volume that came. Was it because I thought that my story wasn't so good after all? Perhaps I didn't feel my story was good enough? No, none of those things were what I was feeling.

Ultimately I came to the conclusion that it was because not only did they not "get" where I was coming from but that they seemed to want me to write it the way that they would have. I know my writing style isn't very classical or even common but everybody has their own way of writing and mine is what it is. It's not my place to say if another person's style is good or not, after all it's theirs not mine. Their notes were laden with comments about what they would like in the story, more dialogue, less big words, more about the mother and basically at the end for me to wrap it all up in a nice neat package that explained everything to them.

What they missed was the idea that this was about a man remembering a time when he was young that totally changed what he thought he knew about his life. It was perhaps the very first time that he looked at what went on around him without blinders covering his vision. It was about him starting to realize that there was a lot bigger picture than he could ever have conceived. It was not supposed to answer all of the questions, instead it was supposed to make you question the assumptions you had made when reading the story. It was simply dropping the reader in the middle of a small piece of this persons life without giving a back story. The idea is to challenge the reader to keep up and come up with your own ideas for what had gone on in the boy/mans life.

In the future I'm going to have to do some research and make my choices better when sending anything I've written out to be criticized. After all, you wouldn't want a romance author telling you what's wrong with a sci-fi story would you? I also plan on sifting through the large amount of notes and eliminating the comments about how they wanted it and instead look for those that can actually improve my story. There are some in there and I just need to go through and draw them out. Then I'll bring the story back in it's new and (hopefully) improved state. It will have to be soon however because there is a writing competition coming up in about two months and I'd like to submit my story, if it's ready. That's a big if.

Written and Published by Don Leach. May not be used without permission from the author.

1 comment:

Samantha Bangayan said...

Don, I am SOO sorry that you went through that frustrating experience! You've share a life lesson that I want to remember -- ultimately, *we* should make decisions for ourselves. Others will give their opinions on our work and our lives, but they are only *opinions.* Stay strong and confident. Excited to read *your* original, updated version and best of luck with the writing competition! =)