Throwing in the towel

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by Sebulba2179, Aug 10, 2005.

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  1. Sebulba2179

    Sebulba2179 Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 5, 2002
    This isn't what it sounds like - yet. This is just something I'd like to toss out for discussion and advice. Is towel-throwing ever something you feel like doing, because you feel like your story is a waste of time and board space? If so, how do you deal with that? When your readership plummets to an all-time low, and you lose interest in writing the story as a result, what do you do in a case like that - particularly if it's a story you're very excited and passionate about writing?

    I'd really like to know, so let's see what you think.
  2. obi_ew

    obi_ew Jedi Master star 5

    Apr 14, 2002
    It happened to me a lot on my last story in particular. It was an OC story so I went in telling myself I was prepared to not get much response. I was wrong. :( After awhile it would get to me and I did consider just chucking it a couple of times. Thankfully I have a wonderful friend and beta in Shaindl who was always there to give me a swift kick in the rear. She always made me stop and think about how much I loved the story and my characters, and my handful of devoted readers. Sure it continued to be a struggle, but once the story was complete I was very happy with it and the work I did on it. And thankful I didn't stop. I do think sometimes it helps to step away from a story if you're struggling with it. Hopefully the drive will come back. If not, that's okay too. Some of the boards best writers have stories that they've left in limbo.

    I guess my advice is to take a break from it and see if the passion for it comes back. :)
  3. Jennifer_Lyn

    Jennifer_Lyn Jedi Master star 4

    Jun 8, 2005
    I think readership is highly overrated. (says the girl with 2 or 3 regular readers, maximum!)
    If you're really enjoying writing it, who gives a flying fig if anyone else is reading it? Besides, you never know how many lurkers are out there, completely enthralled, but too nervous to poke there heads out and say hi.
    Keep going, it can only do your writing chops good to work through that. I guess you could also take a long, hard look at the piece and see if there is somewhere specific readership had dropped and figure out what causeed it. Doesn't mean you should change the story to suit the audience, but it would be an interesting exercise.
  4. Neo-Paladin

    Neo-Paladin Jedi Master star 4

    Dec 10, 2004
    I don't know what kind of stories you write, as for me, I've written some short and one longer piece. Either way, I don't post a line of what I've written until the arc is done. The thing about this is it doesn't mater what the readership is; I write it for the story, and handle the response when it's all done and won?t impact my writing or my enthusiasm for the arc I?m on.

    I won't say I've never been disappointed, it still cuts when you?re excited to see what people think and the post sinks to page 6 of the boards in a few hours. However, I've been pleasantly surprised as well. If you do go this route don?t give into the temptation to post things earlier than a regular posting date. Response plummets to ~zero if you post things too close together.
  5. oqidaun

    oqidaun Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Jul 20, 2005
    I think that's a reasonable kind of frustration that everyone feels at some point and I think it hurts the most when we feel that we've got a really good story to tell. I've always been an odd ball with regard to my genre and character preferences, which limits my readership to a degree. I like strong OC characters and complicated plots, thus creating stories that aren't easily digestible. I'm also a canon junkie and tend to put a whole lot of research into everything. A lot of people just don't get it. Additionally, I prefer horror/suspense over romance and a lot of readers aren't looking for that either. This is always been my approach to fanfic and I'm not surprised when I don't see a thousand folks lining up to read my sweeping political intrigues and getting all weepy at the cool imagery I use to describe the lower levels of Coruscant or State dinners. If I had to bank exclusively on my big fic A Thousand Shades of Gray/A Cacophony of Voices I'd be rather blue. I've got some devoted readers who I love dearly, but it's a small crew. Needless to say I LOVE them with all of my tiny twisted black heart. LOVE them! Yet, if I didn't have them I'd still be writing this story.

    However, I've learned to diversify to appease my ego and sense of self-worth that comes from the occasional pat on the back. I do write some comic pieces, the vignettes, challenges, and so forth. The sneaky trick is that I use the broader quasi-canon world I've established in my bigfic (strange how the same people and places always keep showing up). My two comic characters Maz/Elan are in my other stuff and maybe when their chapter comes up again in the bigfic a reader might be drawn in by seeing their name and get hooked. It's a strategy. I'm consistent, if nothing else.

    I love my OCs too much to give up. I love the craptastic sector of the galaxy that I've carved out for them. I've given them lives that I can't walk away from and I think are valuable enough that somewhere someone else will latch on to them too. I let my OCs surprise me every so often.

    I say take your characters and give them a chance to run around in some vignettes or short pieces. Pull out parts of your big story and explore it in other contexts. Don't let go.
  6. flowerbee

    flowerbee Jedi Knight star 5

    Apr 29, 2004
    Oh, sure. I actually did it with two of my earliest fanfics... because I hadn't mapped them out properly and had no idea what to do with them. Plus, I was just frustrated and needed a break. I had no experience with it and didn't have the patience to wait out my inspirational dry spell.

    I have now learned to outline everything... if not write the whole thing before I post one word.

    I write fairly obscure things, so lack of readership doesn't bother me. I have a story to tell and I'm going to tell it. I just remind myself that I have dozens of lurkers and go about my business if no one is replying. :p
  7. Briman

    Briman Jedi Padawan star 4

    Oct 8, 2004
    I think so. I mean, if you are writing something and no one takes interest, then why continue to do that when you could go onto something else and try again.
  8. americantragedy

    americantragedy Jedi Youngling star 3

    Jun 6, 2005
    this happens to me a lot. i get majorly frustrated over my longer stuff and just quit. i end up shelving the story for months then finding it under my bed or in my harddrive and start it up again.
  9. Sebulba2179

    Sebulba2179 Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 5, 2002
    Assuming you have any. I posted during Lurker Appreciation Week and nobody spoke up. I was enjoying writing it, but for some reason, I just don't enjoy writing it as much if nobody's enjoying the read.

    You took the words right out of my mouth - almost all except the horror/suspense genre. I'm more into the action/adventure genre. And thus, in the ongoing analysis of what I could possibly be doing wrong with this story, the popular preferences keep nattering: everybody hates Jacen (my main character), everybody loves Jaina (who for me is a secondary character) and her love pentagon, everybody wants to read mush, which I have never been in the habit of writing. I think I've lost one of my precious three readers because I've openly decried the J/TK pairing. But that's not legally, ethically and morally wrong, is it? We should be able to write whatever we damn well please, yes? It just seems a shame that those of us who write whatever we damn well please go virtually unnoticed because we take the road less travelled. What REALLY aches is when I see people who write the same kind of stuff I do getting all kinds of rave reviews every time they click.

    [Threepio]I wish I had your confidence.[/Threepio] I, too, have a story to tell, but I just want to know if somebody likes it. I dunno - I guess I'm just one of those people who need to know if they're doing well.

    Looks like what's probably going to happen is that I'll bail on the story for now, and if I really really feel like restarting it one of these years, I'll do it. We'll see.
  10. KnightedRogue

    KnightedRogue Jedi Master star 3

    Aug 11, 2004
    Meh, it happens. Recently I started philosophizing about fanfic in general and how seriously some people (read: me) take it. It's ridiculous, really, if you think about it. When I get down about readership or frustrated about my writing, I try to remind myself that this is, in the end, just a hobby. Nothing to really get upset over.

    Secondly, everyone writes fanfic in one of two ways, depending on the story format: 1) for the audience, or 2) for yourself. Type number 2 oftentimes gets neglected by readers. Usually its because it's an OC-centered story. Or you're trying something new on the structure level (no punctuation or second-person POV or in the future tense, whatever). Or, and this happened to me, the subject matter itself is counter to what most people want to read.

    If your story is in one of those categories, it's easy to let it slide off your back. Think "it's too ahead of its time" or "they just don't get it". That's what I did with mine, and I'm actually still happy with how it turned out. If its the first case, I'd either work it to death or set it aside for awhile. It may or may not be about your story - at certain points of the year, the boards get hyper-busy and sometimes it's dead. And you're either motivated to work it, or you're not. If it's time to set it aside, don't let anyone urge you to do it differently. You decide the quality of the piece, not your BFF.

  11. wendynat

    wendynat Jedi Youngling star 3

    Jun 8, 2005
    I've noticed the same thing, with OCs or more "unpopular" characters, but I was kind of expecting that going into my novel-length OC-centric story. Doesn't mean it's any easier when you post an 11-page update and get crickets answering, of course... which happened to me this week, too. I have some regular readers (just a couple :) ) but I think this week everyone's involved in the fanfic awards discussions and such. I know I haven't had as much reading time just from regular Darth RL getting in the way (summer is always busier), so I'm going to keep plugging away with my weekly updates. I love the story, and it's already mapped out anyway ;).

    I also post on a couple of other archives/websites and usually get some response there - the boards move so quickly here that things get buried in the blink of an eye. What I've been doing lately is going to page 10 or above, reading a fic, and leaving a comment. Spreading the love, and all of that ;).

    That said, I also do what another poster mentioned and post a viggie here and there, something with canon characters, usually in answer to a challenge. That helps keep the self-confidence and motivation up a bit! And I've noticed it helps my OC-muse flow better, also, when I hop back and forth between viggie and my regular WIP.
  12. Pandora

    Pandora Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Apr 13, 2005
    Let's just say that I recently started an all OC story on the Beyond the Saga board. Set on a far future Hoth, no less. I made my first post suspecting that I wasn't going to get any responses, and I was right. If the boards weren't as polite as they are, I would have expected someone to ask me, very nicely, where the canons were, and what exactly had I been thinking when I started this thing. But nothing. And even though I knew what to expect, I still wasn't quite ready.

    I'm not a feedback junkie. Far from it. I have never gotten, or expected, that many responses. If one person responds to a post, that is enough. More than enough. I'm happy for each and every one. And I won't Up! the little fan fiction I just mentioned, for that is not my way.

    However, the board attitude of feedback, feedback, is starting to affect me. When I first started posting, I didn't assume that if someone responded once, and then didn't post again, that they had necessarily stopped reading. Wasn't letting you know they were there once enough? After a while, I started to assume, though I am trying not to, that if a reader said nothing, they weren't there.

    We are lucky to have this sort of instant feedback thing. I've published things for the almighty $, and as far as I know, no one, other than myself and the editors, has read them. That's why I try to remember: You must be prepared to work always without applause.

    So, I'm going to finish my ridiculous Hoth story, regardless of whether anyone else reads it. If I do quit it, it will because I don't like the story anymore, and I find I dread writing it. Not because no one came to read, or showed the signs that they had been there. (Though I wouldn't be surprised if I don't even have any lurkers. I shan't ask them to de-lurk, because I don't want them to do that if it makes them uncomfortable.)

    I realize that not everyone likes OC and minor characters as much as I do. I pretty much have to. So like I said, I'm pleased to get any feedback at all. I have been thinking of making an effort to respond more to people who write the OCs and minor characters. Usually, I prefer to read quietly, but if they need the inspiration to continue, I'll try.
  13. Healer_Leona

    Healer_Leona Squirrel Wrangler of Fun & Games star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Jul 7, 2000
    I'm sure everyone feels this way at one point or another.

    Myself, oh yes often and continuous at times. It's been forever since I had any more than one post fic going and even my last one poster is no laying nearly abandoned due to many reasons. Time constraints, busy RL, loss of inspiration, fear over how they'll be received.

    Still I've also got a couple fics I've worked on over the years sitting in Word that may still never see the light of day. But I can't bring myself to just delete them quite yet.

    Someone suggested taking a step back, even doing viggies and missing scenes from you fics, very good ideas. Perhaps play at a challenge or two. You never know where that re-spark of enthusiasm may come from. Sometimes, just reading and replying to stories can ingite the drive again.

  14. Shadowolf

    Shadowolf Jedi Master star 2

    May 4, 2005
    Like the others have said, I think we all feel this way at some point. I stopped writing for almost a year because two different stories I wrote (different fandom) got nary a whisper of comment, positive or negative. It bothered me greatly and until I found these boards I didn't have the confidence or the desire to write anymore (even though the stories were clamoring around in my head).

    The readership is nice, to get the comments is absolutely Fabulous, but something to remember is a lot of people are generally bad at leaving comments (again, experience in other fandoms). People are reading even if they aren't commenting most of the time. If you need to take a step back, give yourself some time to move past the disappointment in not getting the comments then jump back into the fray if the story compells you. Otherwise leave it and move on to something that does "demand" to be written. You'll find your audience eventually.

    Granted this comes from a general n00b in the SW fandom, but it's been my experience in the other fandoms I've been in. Hope it helps or at least adds to the discussion. :)
  15. Alethia

    Alethia Jedi Master star 5

    Feb 13, 2005
    I've thrown in the towel before, in other fandoms. Though it wasn'T lack of readership, but lack of interest on my part. I still did have readers and even now I'll get the occasional email asking for a new post. But my interests have changed... *shrugs* Though I might just end up finishing up one of the fics, because it's almost done and I want to say I have finished it.

    Yes, it can get annoying when no one responds or replies. But I always remind myself that I am writing for me, not anyone else. Who cares what the others think? *grins* No, really, I understand that it can be hard. But just try to continue on and think that there are lurkers out there enjoying your fic. And if you do have one or two faithful readers, just think of that. You wouldn't want to let them down, would you?

    I know, it's hard. But try not to give up. And eventually you may get more readers. Just plod on.
  16. Seldes_Katne

    Seldes_Katne Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Mar 18, 2002
    Every fanfic story I've ever posted has been completely finished (and, if possible, beta-read) by the time I put up the thread and start my introductory comments. So for me there's no reason not to finish posting the story -- after all that work, it's getting "weblished", regardless of whether anyone else reads it or not. When I was a journalism student at Syracuse University, my editing professor made a remark that's stayed with me ever since: "You don't get paid to start a story, you get paid to finish it." (Preferably by deadline.... ;)) Obviously, in fanfiction, no one gets paid to do anyting, but I try to bring that ethic to all my writing projects, even the ones I do for my own amusement. If I'm going to abandon a story, it will be during the writing phase while it's still confined to my computer, so no one else will ever know about The Story That Never Got Written.

    Even if you don't receive many (or any) replies, don't be discouraged. Write because you love writing, or because you have a story to tell. I've come across many story gems, both at TFN and elsewhere, that the author posted months or years ago. They're still good stories, and I still enjoy them, even though the author has moved on to other interests. Every story finds readers eventually.
  17. CommanderConrad

    CommanderConrad Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Jan 30, 2003
    I've posted a lot of things that only have two or three readers. And that's usually in the first post, and they hardly every come back. I don't particularly enjoy having my stuff ignored, but I try to take some solace in the fact that the one or two people who do follow my works seem to enjoy them a lot.

    I'm too stubborn to write about cannon characters, and in most challenges I come out neat the bottom, and that leads me to believe that I'm not cut out for fan fic. That's caused me to lose interest in fan fiction, so I'm going to give it up for a long while. But I won't leave any half-done works around. I'll finish the story I've started first.
  18. scrubking

    scrubking Jedi Youngling

    Aug 12, 2005
    I have to say I'm currently in this rut. I've stopped writing and have even considered moving on to a subject other than SW. I don't get many people to my site, but even the ones that did ignored my SW FF. I love story telling, but it seems pointless to write something if no one will read it.
  19. GrandAdmiralV

    GrandAdmiralV Jedi Youngling star 3

    May 30, 2005
    It's tough, because I tend to like OCs as can do so much more with them. And frankly, a lot of the stuff with canon characters tends to bore me because it's just retreads of the same material. It's a huge galaxy...really, are there only 10 or 12 people living in that galaxy who are worth writing about? I don't think so!

    It is a very tough crowd over here. I'm fairly new, but I've been writing on ff.n for about a year now, and it seems as if it's a lot easier to get feedback there than here. It's discouraging, but since I'm also posting my Boba Fett/OC story on ff.n I get enough responses that I don't let myself get put off by the fact that hordes of avid readers aren't flocking to my story here on tf.n. ;)

    In the final analysis, though, I write because I love doing it and because I feel compelled to do so (if I go too long without writing anything I start to get cranky and anxious). If no one's reading my story, it's unfortunate, but it won't stop me from writing. I have a long work that I've been posting on ff.n and thought about posting here, but I'm going to think long and hard before I do so. It was hard enough to get readers for it on ff.n, so I shudder to think what its fate would be over here (although one of the few reviews I got for it compared it to Timothy Zahn's work, which for a Star Wars fic [in my humble opinion] is about the highest praise you can get!). But if I do put it here, it'll just be for fun, not because I'm expecting new legions of fans (which would be nice, but I ain't holdin' my breath!).

    Don't let lack of response keep you from writing. Mass appeal isn't always an indicator of quality (as the box office numbers for Dukes of Hazzard clearly show!). :oops:
  20. kotorchick

    kotorchick Jedi Knight star 4

    Aug 11, 2005
    As a person who hasn't written Star Wars yet, but writes in other fandoms, I know what you mean. My cousin and I coolaberate on a favorite musical of ours, Wicked, and write a fan fic dealing with the next generation. All our characters who we see all the time are OCs. Their parents are a catalyst for the plot, but don't get much written space. As our chapters have strayed from the fluff and become way more dramatic and angsty, it's seemed that we'e lost readers and reviews. I don't write for them, honestly. I love writing it and seeing how it goes and wirting ht eplot. however, I love a good review. We NEVER get them, and especially as of late. It's really bugging me, because we did have a big readership and now they've all gone away. I just want a review... In fact, I'm ready to stop posting on because no one seems to read it. Oh well, I'll probably continue, but it's frustrating. That's my vent oon all of this.
  21. bobilll

    bobilll Jedi Padawan star 4

    Aug 8, 2002
    Sigh, OC delimna are the worst. Readers seem to hate them. Writers can't properly develope without them. I guess it's best to just do what everyone else has been saying and just write for you, and not others.

    Easier said than done, sadly.

    btw kotorchick, you wrote a Wicked fanfic? Hehe, can you pm me the link? I'm a bit obsessed w/ that musical myself.
  22. oqidaun

    oqidaun Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Jul 20, 2005
    It's kind of interesting that a lot of the people over here are also OC writers, we tend to collectively take a beating.
    Allow me to add an observation regarding OCs and this might spark some debate or further commiseration, I feel more comfortable and content reading a fanfic driven by strong OCs as opposed to one that has dropped a significant amount of canon characterization in the name of AU. Granted I'm not saying all OC fics are good as some are really quite bad. Additionally, I'm not sniping at the AU crowd either because I've seen some AU that has done a fantastic job of maintaining characterization. However, in terms of canon characterization and how closely people adhere to characterization, there should probably be a lot more OCs running around.
  23. GrandAdmiralV

    GrandAdmiralV Jedi Youngling star 3

    May 30, 2005
    You know, I was thinking about this some more as I was loading laundry today (oh, the fun and exciting ways I spend my weekends!). Anyway, I was pondering the problems with writing OCs and how we don't seem to get any respect, and I thought, 'You know, when you're talking about all these EU characters (Jacen, Jaina, Mara, Thrawn, Siri, etc., etc.), they ALL started out as OCs, because of course they weren't in the original films! Yet there's a gazillion stories about them that seem to get a much wider readership than stories that feature OCs created by fanfic writers.'

    So I guess if they've appeared in something that's been published professionally, these characters get the street cred they need, but otherwise OCs are definitely the red-headed stepchildren of fanfic. Too bad, because I've read some fan-written OCs that were a lot more interesting than some of the characters the pros have come up with!
  24. bobilll

    bobilll Jedi Padawan star 4

    Aug 8, 2002
    Even published OCs have to be published by the special authors' circle they have going around - Zahn, Anderson, etc. Paul Davids and Hollace Davids get no attention whatsover. You can't say that their writing is too kiddie to get attention here, either, since the Jedi Apprentice Series and Young Jedi Knights series get tons of attention.

    On one hand, most people like reading about charactors they already know, cuz then they don't have to reorient themselves to a totally new kind of charactor. On the other hand, like you guys said, GFFA is big, and to leave out OCs would make for a very narrow writing world.

    Now that I think about it, though, all the published OCs that are popular only are cuz they interact so strongly with canon. Nothing really OC dominated in GFFA really gets out there. A sad trend.
  25. Pandora

    Pandora Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Apr 13, 2005
    Oh, the EU original characters aren't safe. There are people who still remember that they aren't the *real* characters, you know, the ones from the movies. The EU characters aren't really considered to have reached the holy status of canon for that reason.

    Mainly: That Lucas didn't create them, so they aren't real. (I haven't read most of the EU, so I don't have a dog in this fight. I would say to these people, the ones who cheer when an EU original gets bashed, that Lucas allows the EU to exist. He doesn't need it. He could pull it justlikethat if he wanted to.)

    Yes, the gffa is a big galaxy, and should have any number of stories. After all, Luke is only one Jedi. He can't be everywhere and in all stories at once.

    That's how it should be. It isn't. People will say, and I've seen it here on the literature boards, that yes, they know that. They don't care. They want stories about the same select group of characters, and that's that.

    I haven't even gotten into most people's reaction to original characters, though I've not seen it here: SUE!

    That's right. To say the Sue calling is out of control in the fan fiction community would still be an understatement. All this fretting over keeping your OCs in line. Doing regular flaw checks to make sure they're not getting too competant or good looking or anything. If I mention the number of times I've heard people pat themselves on the back for how plain and incompetent their OC is, and she makes one mistake after another, and can't save anything, let alone the galaxy, so surely she won't be a SUE! I'm not sure when it would end.

    For myself, I'm not doing the Mary Sue litmus tests. I'm not going through my characters, counting up flaws to make sure I don't upset some canon nazi. I try to do my limited best at creating characters, and that's what I'm going to do.

    Just as I know the majority of people are not going to be interested in an all OC fiction. I like them, and that's what matters. Luckily, I know that at least a few other people do as well.
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