Preferences Writer vs Reader

We all do it, sometimes we selfishly put forward OUR ideas inspite of the opinions of others. Ei) A character we know is slightly was out of place or is mildly outlandish but we have fallen in love with the idea. Though it doesn’t stop with characters, places, technology, myths and magic we all have that guilty little pleasure we inserted into our stories on a whim even though it doesn’t quite fit.

Then there are the times when writers hold back, censor some of the things we want for the sake of the readers. To please the readers is a goal in and of itself. Sometimes its heart breaking to pull back an idea because you ‘know’ it wont sit well or FEAR that it wont. Sometimes we hold back for other reasons, l like offending some minority, age group or singular person or just to be politically correct. Then there are times when you know there’s something the readers will LOVE but you the writer don’t feel to hot about, do you go ahead anyway or cut that section out?

My question comes to the point where the desires of the writer and that of the readers collide.
-Do you hold back or push yourself for the readers, or do you write purely for yourself? A mix of both?
-Do readers exert too much pressure too little?
-Is conforming to the norm something you worry about?
-Would you rather a writer aim to please others or themselves with their craft?
-How much sway should your input really have on a writers decision?

Long story short this is just a inquiry on personal values and opinion.

AND it’s late and I’m curious :smile:
Thankyou for reading
Much luv

I made a nasty serial killing jerk that manipulated archeologists, corporations, protagonists, and anyone else he thought he needed just so he could “twist a knife in god” so no I don’t think I hold back.
You could say he was the driving force for their apocalypse in my first attempt at a multi era story.

By the time his efforts bore fruit he was already long gone of course. He probably couldn’t have piloted one of those war machines equipped with “4th magic” technology anyway.

Too bad all my other characters are so empty by comparison but had some pretty good conversations.
An amateur poetry club liked them.

I just let the scenes progress naturally but this causes things to take maybe a little too long to actually get going (like 14 pages). I don’t try to shock. I don’t try to be edgy. I just include what belongs without considering what anyone would think about it.
Even if I’m crying on the pages myself I still write on. Now if only I wasn’t so bad at making my characters.

Aim to please yourselves THEN if there’s room try to please others (unless they’re asking for something to be removed).

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I think it depends on why you are writing. For example, if you want to make money then it’s usually better to conform somewhat to the norm and not to have your opinions be too wildly one sided or strong. If you’re writing for yourself then by all means, put all your thoughts in it or else you’ll never be happy with it. And then there’s the inbetween.
To answer your questions though:

  1. Honestly for me I write about 70% for myself and 30% for the reader. My opinions don’t stray too far from the norm so it’s slightly easier for me I guess? The major components and ideas are written for me as I feel if I do that the writing comes out better. It’s stronger and holds itself better than if I were to cater to the reader, but I do tone it down a notch so as not to come on too strongly.
  2. Sometimes it feels as though readers exert too much pressure especially if you’re trying to write with no intended audience and trying to make money. Trying to write in a way that pleases everyone and offend no one. Of course then at that point, I have to remind myself that not everyone will be happy and to just try to make it something that I won’t be disappointed in.
  3. Not really no. As stated above most of my opinions usually side on the norm so it’s not too hard for me and the ones that don’t aren’t usually the ones that are big moral no-nos
  4. I would rather a writer aim to please themselves because I find it makes more better and more entertaining writing. It’s just that they should try to understand that not everyone will follow with their ideas or jump to the same conclusion. Explain to me why you are thinking that way, convince me that you are right. I think that’s more entertaining.
  5. Not to the point where the writers feels they have to do a 180 on what they want to write. Just like above, the writer doesn’t have to write to please me but they just have to understand that I might not have the same thinking that they do. Of course if I pick it up and read it, odds are our thinking probably have some things in common.

I don’t plan to share for public my interactive fiction stories, but I think I can share my views as writer and reader.

Do you hold back or push yourself for the readers, or do you write purely for yourself? A mix of both?
I would write first for myself then if fans share some good points then I add it as well. But main thing is I write what I want the story to go.

Do readers exert too much pressure too little?
I think readers will always expect much for story especially if the story is what they like. This gives pressure, but I think in a good way since writer will now have a goal to make the story interesting.

Is conforming to the norm something you worry about?
Not really, would not follow the norm be bad?

Would you rather a writer aim to please others or themselves with their craft?
The writer should first write for themselves before us fans. The writer should feel comfortable with what they wrote so story writing for them is not feel like work, but pleasure for write a story.

How much sway should your input really have on a writers decision?
Input of many fans should be considered depending if the input is acceptable for the story or the input is something that could improve story. It also depends if writer/author want to listen to input of fans.

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I write 100% for myself at first because if I don’t like what I write how can anyone else. However I am very open to input from readers. Two cases in point are adding Denise and Victor as ROs in Unnatural.


I’m of the opinion that writers should write for themselves before anyone else. Holding your ideas back and forcing revision is dangerous, and can limit your ability to finish something. So if I’m writing something I think of what I want first, and if afterward I want to revise things after getting opinions, I’ll do so.

For me this is the best way to read things as well. You can tell when what you’re reading was enjoyable to write, or when it’s trying to pander. I like it a lot more when writers are self-indulgent, personally. It’s not ‘selfish’… it’s having fun and enjoying what you write.

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I’m of the opinion that it’s really a mix of both which sort of makes it a third option; you write for the sake of the story. If you want to simply write for the pleasure of writing then you need not ever publish it. But in truth most of us will likely want validation for our efforts in some form or another. I believe that if you have an audience for your work then you have some semblance of a duty to your audience and especially if they pay to read your work.

That being said, when your own desires clashes with the audience (and that implies you will release your work to an audience) I think you should merely consider whether it would better the story. Coming up with ideas is the easy part and it’s a writers job to make sure they are consistent with the narrative. Fan shipping is a case no author can please everyone with and some clearly don’t make sense within context of the story. But many author’s own ideas are not immune to this. Editors exist for a very good reason and every professional author will revise their own work many times before the final draft. You don’t have to erase that cool idea but at least ask whether it need to be in this story.

I’m also leery about preaching too much at your readers or being edgy for the sake of being edgy. If you do so at least make it make sense and consistent throughout. And be honest about it. Don’t disguise political or social commentary in something that had nothing to do with it.

In short write for the sake of making the writing better.


I personally write entirely for myself. I don’t like “structured” writing or having to follow the generally accepted formulas for how stories are put together. I’ll write what I want to write, and HOW I want to write it and I don’t really care if it’s not how its done or someone doesn’t like it. I am of course open to suggestions and criticism, even if I won’t always change things because of it. But hey, that’s just me!

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Do you hold back or push yourself for the readers, or do you write purely for yourself? A mix of both?
I would say a mix of both. I primarily write for myself but I often consider my audience as I’m writing.

Do readers exert too much pressure too little?
I would say readers are very excited for the product and they’re usually open about that. That is pressuring, but that’s not the readers fault per say. I would say most readers try to pressure as little as possible, often saying “take as much time as you need”.

Is conforming to the norm something you worry about?
Rarely. I don’t see my ideas as bad or strange, even when they’re not normal. I mix realism and dark aspects of life with hope and love. I’m not usually too sure what the “norm” is, in all honest, so at this point in life I’ve just stopped worrying about it.

As a reader:

Would you rather a writer aim to please others or themselves with their craft?
Themselves. It usually produces the best product and it’s interesting to see an authors imagination at work. For me, if I had my own ideas about things I’d write them. I read other peoples work because I like to see their take on things.

How much sway should your input really have on a writers decision?
I would say a writer should always consider what their audience is saying, especially if a majority of their audience is saying it. I don’t think writers should change everything for their audience, especially if it goes against their views and how they see their characters and story.

But like with editors, a writer should look at what’s being suggested and say “how does this come off to other people?” “do they have a point?”

At the end of the day, though, the writer knows what they’re trying to say and the reader doesn’t. The writer knows what’s going to happen (at least partially). Readers gain clarity as more of the story becomes available.

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Would you rather a writer aim to please others or themselves with their craft?
I want the writer to please me. That’s why I’m reading. If I don’t like what I’m reading, I’ll read something else. There are so many other wonderful things I could be reading, it’s overwhelming.

I don’t particularly care about how pleased the writer is. That’s not my business. If I ever want to read stuff written purely for the writer’s enjoyment, I’ll go on Livejournal.

How much sway should your input really have on a writer’s decision?
As a colleague, editor, or playtester, I leave that up to the writer. I love it when I suggest something that turns out to be helpful, and I don’t mind if my suggestion turns out not to be. Either way, the product can only get better.

As a reader, I dearly hope that the writer isn’t looking to me for input. Writers who are any good will already have a clear vision for their work, and the support of editors and colleagues to help them realize that vision. If reader or fan feedback starts influencing the course of a work, I’m likely to lose interest.

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I really enjoy thinking about the market, because it’s often inspiring. It also makes me work harder and produce better work. When I first thought about steampunk, I felt it was a good choice of marketable genre as well as one that I enjoyed reading. I hesitated to go there because I knew I’d have to actually research the history that I was altering. But of course that extra work made my stories better. At the same time, I discovered I became bored if there was no magic, so I made my steampunk into fantasy. I didn’t think it was a big deal; it was just what I enjoyed writing (and reading, eg Gail Carriger novels).

Since my HG has come out (magical steampunk set mainly in Australia) I’ve discovered that people have strong reactions to the setting. A lot of people adore it, some hate it. So it turned out the market was different to what I expected anyway. But it still helped give me direction.

Thinking of the market is fun. It’s like a teacher giving you a writing exercise (“I want you to write a story from the perspective of a blind man” or whatever) instead of a blank page. Writers often write better the more restrictions they’re given. Sometimes that’s because the restrictions spark ideas. Sometimes it’s because the restrictions make them realise how much they really want to write something else…and that something else is brilliant (and often, ironically, becomes a bestseller).


(I’m not a Writer so I can’t really answer a few of these questions)

[quote=“Snoe, post:1, topic:12935”]
Readers:-Would you rather a writer aim to please others or themselves with their craft?
[/quote] Well, I prefer a writer to enjoy their own work, as long as the writer is proud and happy with their work then I’m happy.

[quote=“Snoe, post:1, topic:12935”]
-How much sway should your input really have on a writers decision?
[/quote] If it effects the story then it should be left up to the author in most cases. If it’s a small detail like for example, the appearance of a character, it should be left to the author to decide whether they want to accept the ideas of the audience or their own. When it comes to grammar the audience should definitely be noticed.

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That is…a difficult question. First and foremost, I write for me, I think. More accurately, I TRY and write for me. I seem to fail more often than not because I constantly ponder what readers want, what they think, what they could condemn me for. Now, after having written a story of 70k and having had to deal with praise and hate alike, I admit to having grown to…resent many of my readers, just a bit. (While at the same time staying motivated mostly because of them.)
They exert a lot of pressure, though I don’t think they realize it. They tell me to change things, they make demands, they go from praising you to burning you at the stake for every perceived transgression and it gets quite tiring after a while. Now I can’t say whether this is the case for every writer or if it’s just a side effect of the whole ‘posting and receiving feedback chapter by chapter’ thing, but at the very least it has taught me one thing: You can never satisfy all of them. The thing is, your readers have an entirely different outlook on your story than you do. This can be helpful, but more often than not I have found that they…really don’t make much sense and have not thought their suggestions through.

So it’s actually getting easier for me to write what I want instead of what I think the readers want. I know where I want my stories to go. I know what I want to emphasize. And I’m getting used to the idea that I as the author really do know best.

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Years ago I heard Neil Gaiman say that it is hard to come up with anything when someone calls you and simply asks you to write a story. “What kind of story?” you ask. “Any kind you want,” says the anthology editor. That’s the hardest kind.

But when someone calls you up and says, “Hey, we’re doing a short story anthology about cats. We’ve already got stories about green cats and blue cats and red-and-yellow striped cats, but we don’t have any stories about purple cats. Would you like to contribute a purple cat story?” – that’s when you start getting the good ideas.


I suppose since all of you have been kind enough to share some very wise insight I should share mine aswell. It’s a very interesting topic for discussion! But then again the questions with no easy answers are all the best ones to ask.

My opinion on it is pretty simple but kinda vague, I figure the creative process is a mixture, like cooking, you can put any number of ingredients together and ‘call’ it food. There are an astonishing amount of ways to make what you want and never make the same meal twice or you can be very precise and calculated, but regardless of which method the one thing that remains is quality ingredients, careful balance, and patience.

We as writers are responsible for cooking the story and managing the ingredients, the readers get to enjoy the meal, but as we know everyone has their own tastes but you cannot cook to please everyone at the table but you can always ask opinions and pass the salt :slight_smile:

Using the same analogy, writer’s the cook and the reader’s the guest, the writer decides what goes into the pot in the end, while the reader gets to judge the results of the meal. Problem is getting your guests to come back for another helping.

sry I like analogies.


Actually, I aim to offend some minority, age group, or singular person in my writing because people are waaay too sensitive now days.


I definitely believe in writing whatever you’re passionate about - or, to put it another way, to write what YOU want to read. I’m finding with “Attack of the Clockwork Army” (new HG) that a surprising number of people hate it… not because of the usual CoG diversity, but because it combines steampunk, magic, and Australia. (I know they hate it because the ratings graph is weird-looking compared to other HG - LOTS of 1st despite having three times as may 5s).

I knew I was being mildly original with my setting, I had NO idea I was controversial. Gotta say, I’m kind of flattered by that.

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A lot of cog 1 stars are from people who don’t understand what they’re buying. They get it thinking it’ll be some awesome action adventure video game, then realise… ew, it’s words. I wouldn’t let the rating get to you.

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It depends on your definition of ‘controversial’, I guess. To me it seemed like a pretty normal setting, though there were some specific things I really liked, like the metal magic stuff and the metal corsets. Then again I do have a preference towards stories which are a bit creative with genre’s.

What I do dislike in a story is when people seem to throw in romances just because it’s the norm, but they do not, or hardly, affect the story. (I’ll read ‘Attack of the Clockwork Army’ a few more times before penning down a more detailed opinion on that, since one playthrough isn’t really enough for that.)

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A few of the 1-star comments specified that the setting was their main issue, and I bet I can do a better job of set-up on the next book I write, but no-one seems to object to the setting of my other long gamebook (different fantasy world). I always thought I was normal… or as close to normal as any writer.

The romance both does and doesn’t alter the story. I suspect if you dislike shallow romance then it won’t be enough for you - and thanks for mentioning that so I can do better next time.