On Writing & Publishing by Robin D. Owens

Personal notes on writing techniques, writing a novel, my writing career and threading your way through publishing a book.

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Location: Denver, United States

RITA Award Winning Author -- that's like the Oscar, folks! Futuristic/Fantasy Romance and Fantasy with Romantic Subplots.

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Subtlety in Stories

I suppose all over the blogsphere there will be stories of Family Thanksgiving. This isn't one of them. It was good, there were snippets that I could weave into a charming story, and we've had some horrendous Thanksgivings (which I will spare you for now). I won at Yahtzee. Pretty cool.

Anyway, back to topic. Sometimes I'm too subltle in stories, I think what's in my head has made it on the page, so that's a flaw I have to watch for. It can also lead to repetition to get a point home, especially in genre fiction. You really don't want your reader to go "Duh," and scratch their head because they might not buy you again. So there's a balance. I can be repetitious, too.

Yesterday I listened to a short story on NPR, (if you want the details go to http://www.npr.org) I could critique it, and it WAS a charming story, but I believe the end was ambivalent. And I think the author wanted the end to be ambivalent, because I'm still thinking about that story and will probably gnaw it over a couple of more hours before I settle on an ending in my mind. Which is a good thing for a short story, I think, but not in the fiction I write. A satisfying ending is important. In romance, a Happily Ever After is part of the definition. So I view the story from that objective.

The point is: if you want to be subtle and your genre allows you Go For It. But be aware of reader expectations. I think I expected a little too much from the story because of my background, and though I enjoyed the story, since it WAS too subtle, I probably won't be picking up any more of this writer's work. I think I needed more indication of how the story will turn out, or if there was a true ending, and idea of the characters real feelings, though as I am typing I guess I'm finally getting it.

So, with the story being subtle, I'm not sure of the author's intentions, which makes me, the reader, feel a little stupid. And maybe I was, maybe a lot of people "got it" and I didn't, and that makes me feel even more stupid.

Choose your subtletywisely. Too little and you can be boring and repetitious, too much and you can leave the reader feeling stupid. And since I feel I'm rambling, I'll leave it at that.

May your writing please you today.


Blogger Michele said...

Hmmm, good point.

I read a story a ways back that had NO ending.

It was very unsatisfying. The author explained that she wanted us to decide for ourselves how we wanted it to end.

To me, and I could be wrong, but that kind of ending just seemed too darned lazy. I was left frustrated actually and I didn't bother "thinking" of an ending, I walked away from the rest of the book. It was a compilation of short stories. I didn't care enough about the characters to WANT to pursue the ending.

As a reader, I want and expect an HEA. You, at least, Robin, always deliver.

7:13 AM  
Blogger Robin D Owens said...

Wow, Michele, good story and point, and thanks. ;)

4:26 PM  

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