When it comes to a writer having their own voice in their fiction, it sort of becomes a signature for fans of their work. It’s easily recognized, not just by the words being used or the particular flow of their storytelling ability...but sometimes it can be through the content alone. Writer’s bring a deeper part of themselves to the table. Their memories, their sense of humor, their feel for drama...both their attributes and their occasional flaws. It can be as easy to pick out of a line up as the vocal sounds of a singer or a band when you hear them. And sometimes...you don’t have to hear their voices at all. For example, I’ve heard a LOT of people play the harmonica in their music...but I KNOW when I hear Stevie Wonder play the harmonica. It’s unmistakable. I’ve heard a lot of people play the piano, but there’s something about the way that Elton John plays it that just hits different. It can’t be imitated or reproduced...there’s just a part of him that is so evident in every key.
Listen for yourself. Stevie Wonder and Elton John. If you’re familiar with either one of these artists...just listen. Neither one of them says a word...but you know it’s them. You just do.
That being said...the point is...we write what we write, and we’re good at it. Again, being comfortable with your art is a big part of being able to manipulate, take chances, and make educated and skillful choices as to what you can do with whatever you create. Readers can tell on a subliminal level when you’re at ease with your craft. It’s a good thing. A GREAT thing!
(Hehehe, you knew that there was a ‘but’ coming, didn’t you?)
Despite getting a great deal of enjoyment out of your craft, your themes, your thoughts, your cast of characters...as an artist (and to a certain degree, an entertainer)...you have to be able to ‘read the room’. It’s an important part of writing fiction that I think some people overlook from time to time, and it doesn’t often end up with the best of results.
I posted an article on niche writing not long ago, and I definitely encourage authors to make that a fun and pleasant part of the whole writing experience...but when it comes to writing anything in what you would call ‘mixed company’...knowing your audience is going to play a major part on whether or not your audience is going to truly enjoy your writing, or immediately get turned off and click away from it. And that is really bad, especially if it’s a first time reader. Chances are they’re going to judge you on that one piece of work and not come back to check out anything else of yours, expecting more of what they didn’t like about their very first experience with your writing in the first place. This means that you’re alienating your audience right off the bat, and your connection...that much needed reader/writer symbiotic relationship, is instantly broken. Once that happens, it is very VERY hard to get them to give you another shot. So always make sure that you’re putting your best foot forward. And that means developing a sense for who your audience is and what they came looking for.
I understand...it’s very easy to find your writer’s voice and pursue it with some varying degrees of success, and even build up a decent sized fanbase because of it, to the point where you sort of get enveloped in that personal bubble of, “This is what I like. This is what I write. And people will love it no matter what.” But, let me tell you...nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to certain circles. Believe me, I know. At the risk of sounding insulting...that’s ego talking. There’s a huge difference between reaching out to readers, and having readers reach out to you. This is something that you need to keep in mind, no matter how much of a genius you may be at putting words together. K? Sometimes, you have to take your signature voice and practiced methods out of the equation and examine the landscape that you’re working in before rushing in blind. Because not everybody wants to hear what I have to say. I have to be prepared for that.
More on this in the “Touch The Nerve” article, coming soon!
When I first got the idea to write my own stories like, “New Kid In School” (https://gayauthors.org/story/comicality/newkidinschool), “A Class By Himself” (https://gayauthors.org/story/comicality/aclassbyhimself), and others...I decided that I wanted to post my stuff on the Nifty Archive. Now, I had been reading the stories posted there for quite some time before ever trying to do my own thing, and it was pretty much the only game in town for stories like mine, so I pretty much got the gist of what was going on there and decided to give it a shot. Boy meets boy, both are cute, find a reason to get them along with each other, and then have them bang like a couple of jack rabbits. Done and done. If you read a lot of my earlier work, you’ll be able to see that pattern playing out in almost every post that I put out there up until about “On The Outside”, I believe. Was I just super horny and sexually frustrated when I wrote them? Hehehe, of COURSE I was! But that wasn’t the only reason that I structured my stories in that way. I was a fan of the site, I had been reading a lot of other offerings from a lot of other writers, and I took a lot of mental notes on what kind of stories existed in that space, what was constantly being posted, and what was most popular with Nifty readers. So when it came to my first shaky tries at writing my own additions to the archive, I made sure to keep that in mind. I wanted something that would stand out, be extremely hot, but still have some heart and actual story to it.
Basically, I wanted to have my writer’s voice to be heard in its truest form...but I also wanted to be aware of my audience at that time and what they might be looking for. When I started, a vast majority of Nifty’s stories was comprised of jack off stories and quick chance encounters. There are a lot of stories that I write now that would NEVER had garnered much attention way back in 1998! You guys should thank the stars for places like GayAuthors that we have now! Hehehe! ((Hugz)) Thanks Myr and crew!
My stories on Nifty back then would have been too much story, too long between graphically described sex scenes, too much dialogue and teen angst...I don’t think many people would have had the patience to skip ahead to the ‘good parts’. Of course, the landscape has changed dramatically since then, and writing full stories with believable characters who aren’t always stripping down naked and screwing each other every chapter is much more common. But it wasn’t when I started. The reason that I was able to gain the love and support that I did at that time was...I was able to read the room. I was aware of my audience. I got to write what I wanted to write from my heart, but didn’t mind coating it with a little bit of fictional ‘candy’ to raise a few eyebrows here and there.
That little bit of sexy homework could have been the difference between having a ‘Comicality’ and not having a ‘Comicality’. So trust me when I say that knowing your audience is ESSENTIAL to how your story is received by the people you’re sharing it with.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not at all saying that you should pander to anybody for the right to be liked or appreciated. No. That’s not necessary. I’m telling you that being aware of the kind of readers that your work is being presented to before you even begin to type those words out on the screen is going to give you an advantage by the time it’s finished and released to the public. Themes matter. Amount of sex matters. Depictions of sex matters. Language and vocabulary matters. The ages of your characters matter. Genre matters. All of these guiding lights come into play when it comes to sharing your projects with whatever group you happen to be in league with at that time.
If you’re writing for a younger preteen audience...you can’t submit something graphically or overtly sexual. If you’re on a site for modern love and romance stories, submitting something that edges more on being a grotesque horror, blood and gore, story isn’t going to play well with a majority of your audience. If people are looking for something adhering to a certain theme or a subject, you cant just barge in with something completely off topic. And so forth and so on. I mean, those are extremes...but there are subtle differences to be noted as well. Take that little bit of extra time to look at the other writers’ offerings around you, and see if your particular voice fits into the layout of what everybody else is doing. Like I said...take ego out of it. Take a moment to see if you can adjust and adapt your own abilities and instincts to still maintain your beloved and recognizable style to what this particular site/contest/anthology/publication is asking for. It’s not a difficult task at all. Not for any experienced writer. You’re a writer! Figure it out! I do it all the time!
The difficulty comes from authors who are too shielded or defensive of their personal voice to notice that the idea of, “I’m just gonna write whatever I want” isn’t always the way to go. It might make you stand out...but not always in a good way if readers can’t draw a connection between what you’ve written and what the task at hand was. Make sense?
Versatility is the key. Sometimes what you want to write doesn’t quite ‘fit’ into what everyone else is doing. And while it’s cool to be different and original, there are still guidelines that you have to set for yourself and use your voice to tell the story that’s being asked for. Something that is structured to blend in with the current environment that you’re trying to be a part of. There’s a big difference between having an original take on a common idea, and just forcing your ideas upon a group that is looking for something else entirely.
You’ve got to teach yourselves how to change things up every now and then, if for no other reason than to keep from being labeled a ‘one trick pony’ in terms of your content. Really take some time and think about where you are and who your readers are going to be. It’s not a trivial part of being an author, it’s a part of being a part of a community. No one is asking you to compromise your voice for the sake of a ‘herd mentality’. If anything, it’s a chance to flash your skills and bring your own unique flavor to the table when it comes to creating a new presence where you didn’t have one before. Always an awesome experience!
True story...when I wrote the first chapter of “Waiting Outside The Lines” years ago (https://gayauthors.org/story/comicality/waitingoutsidethelines) it was for a writing contest that I was asked to be a part of online! And...if I may take an ego moment, hehehe...I WON that writing contest, and turned it into a series! One that is coming to an end soon, but I’m very proud of it. Anyway, guidelines gave me three cute celebrity boys to get together and basically just told me to build a story around it. And that’s exactly what I did. That’s the story that you can read right now to this day.
Now...there was a second contest that I was also added into...and that one was a little bit out of my depth for that one. Hehehe, but the guy who was running the contest told me to ‘figure it out’. Now this one involved Chandler Riggs, Chris and Liam Hemsworth, and some sex toys, etc. Now that’s not the kind of stuff that I usually write, but hey...hey! Challenged accepted, you know?
I wish I could show it to you guys, but I honestly don’t have a copy of it anymore due to a computer crash. But if any of you guys can find it, I’d LOVE to read it again myself! I think I surprised myself. Hehehe! How did I deal with the more hardcore presentation of it all? I had Chandler get sick with a nasty flu, and while he was in bed, he was watching the Hemsworth brothers on TV, I think...and the whole thing pretty much takes place as a horny teenage boy’s fever dream. Sex toys and all. Proving that a little ingenuity can get your particular voice heard and still have it blend in with the assignment that you’ve been tasked to work with.
Seriously, I don’t remember the name of that one! But if one of you guys has a copy, PLEASE send it to me! Hehehe! I’d love to go back and look at it again some day! ::Giggles::
It doesn’t take a whole lot of research to read the room, folks! Figure out what the vibe is, and do what you can to match it. Just do it in your own way. MAKE it yours, and show the world what you’re made of. Cool?
I hope this keeps your brain bubbling over with new ideas and inspires you guys to keep pursuing your art! We always need new stories in the world! Whether it be on a laptop screen on painted on the walls of an ancient cave...we’re all storytellers at heart. So buckle up, and show us your best!
Take care! And I’ll seezya soon!
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