It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
AUGUST QUESTION: When you set out to write a story, do you try to be more original or do you try to give readers what they want?
MY ANSWER: In a contest between familiarity and originality I, as a writer, would always opt for originality. But of course, this statement is not absolute. If I’m working on a science fiction story, for example, I know I have to comply with the genre expectations: space travel, wormholes, aliens, or at least some super technology that doesn’t exist here and now. Not yet anyway. Even of the technology is very low key, like a hairdressing robot, it has to be there.
If I don’t do that, my readers wouldn’t recognize the genre and would drift away. Even more: if the story is included in a sci-fi magazine or anthology, the sci-fi element should appear on the first page, or better still, in the first paragraph. That’s what the readers want, and that’s what I strive to give them.
But in all my stories, the sci-fi ambience is only skin-deep – a framework, no more. All my sci-fi stories are personal stories set in a sci-fi world. My characters usually face problems that are not genre specific. Sometimes they solve those problems using the above-mentioned futuristic technology, and sometimes not. That is where I try to be original and inventive: in my characters’ problem-solving approach. Not just rushing in with laser guns, but employing a unique solution, something smart, unexpected, and with a minimum of violence.
What about you? Where does your originality appear in your stories?