Last week, I was unable to put up a blog post because I was unwell in the morning, and had to rest before going to see the wonderfully amazing and amazingly wonderful Eddie Izzard for his Force Majeure Tour. Without further ado, here is the post I wanted to write.
Yes, that title’s a take off on Bill Murray’s character from Scrooged, Frank Cross, when he yelled for the workers to stop with the goddamn hammering.
It’s fairly much expressive of the level of irritation I feel when certain television shows and films (that run in a series) start to pandering to audiences. Currently, it’s Hannibal (pandering to the Hanagram crowd) and Sherlock BBC (bringing back Moriarty) that have disappointed me by pandering to their fans rather than sticking to the quality material that have made them popular and beloved in the first place. Once a show begins doing that, it becomes sloppy. The writers stop feeling the magic that brought them there in the beginning. It shows. The series suffers, and the audience ultimately suffers except for the vocal handful who demanded dreck and nonsense from the writers.
This is not the same as listening to your editor. Your editor is there to help you make the best out of your work.
Of course, a big influence for television shows and films are the producers, who are the writers’ bread and butter. But that’s another post in and of itself.
So, dear fellow writer, why am I bothering with all this? Because I want to tell you to not give in to your fans if you have something in mind. If you do, your writing will suffer, and you’ll wind up with a work that leaves you utterly dissatisfied.
You are not a fan fiction writer when you’re writing an original work. You’re also not a fan fiction writer when you’re working on a reboot of an original work. There is nothing wrong with fan fic. I write it all the time. I love it. But when you write something, and you make it your own — whether it’s a reboot of a classic or an entirely original world, write it for you. Write it because you enjoy it, not because you have fans begging you to put James with Daria or so-and-so, but because you want to put James with Daria, or with Ken, or whomever you prefer. That’s just an example.
Admittedly, feedback from fans is invaluable at times. Sometimes, they have an insight into your characters that you’ve never considered. But it must be taken with a grain of salt.
It all comes down to this simple, seven-step program:
- If you enjoy what you’re writing, write it. Others will enjoy it, too.
- You will have detractors.
- You will have fans who want something from you.
- Continue to do what you want.
- You will continue to have detractors.
- You will continue to have fans who want something from you.
- Continue to do what you want.
I recall an interview with someone from Warner Brothers (I saw this when I was a little girl, so I can only vaguely recall who it was) discussing a number of changes that “the people” would want them to make regarding Bugs Bunny/Merrie Melodies/Looney Tunes. His response was, essentially, that they ignored it and just kept doing what they wanted to do, and the shows/cartoons/etc. continued to be enormously popular.
Sometimes, you just have to keep doing what you think is best, producing what you want, and THAT is what will help you maintain your quality. THAT is what will keep you manufacturing your best writing.
Avoid pandering. You don’t need to turn your masterpiece work into something for others. Your contribution is what you make of it, and you don’t want your work to become weak and watered down just to please others (who will never be pleased anyway). Please your own inner reader, and the readers who can appreciate the quality of your work will, too.
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