Often times, I get to know my characters long before I put pen to paper. I like to know where they are in their lives and what part of their lives will get the spotlight when I write the story. Usually, my stories focus on relationships whether with a lover, parent, sibling, co-worker… whomever. Sometimes the relationship is dynamic, sometimes it isn’t.
There are even times where I see potential for the story to touch on certain subplots, take advantage of a particular story line to drive the story in a new direction — add a layer of oomph. But most times, it’s just a distraction from the story I had in mind.
I know that sometimes when readers indulge in a story, they can see a million different ways in which a story could go or might go. They anticipate certain actions that may never come. The foresee certain circumstances that may never materialize. And they feel cheated. Then they send us hate mail because the story wasn’t written the way they think it should have been.
Sure, it might be more exciting to write it their way. But, that may not be the story I want write. The story may be about a particular relationship and the situation they are trying to overcome. And I tend to like it that way — simple, dramatic. I like exploring the various relationships from a certain perspective. I like secondary characters who add dimension to the story. I love subplots that drive the story forward. But I don’t like subplots that steer the story in a direction that doesn’t suit the story that I want to tell.
I made the mistake of trying to please everybody. You know… being the people pleaser. I wanted everybody to be happy. If you said the story was too long, the next one would be shorter. If you said it had too many descriptions, the next one would be less descriptive. If you said it didn’t have enough sex, the next one will have an added level of heat. Still, that wasn’t enough. Now, the story is too short, not descriptive enough with too much sex and not enough about the relationships.
What I learned through this journey, as I published my third novel, is that I can’t please everybody and I shouldn’t strive to do so. It will only send me to the crazy house. It’s a difficult balance because I want people to enjoy my stories but I also want to be proud of the stories I write. I don’t want to be ashamed of any of my work. I don’t want to put anybody “off” either. I just want to write stories that people enjoy.