Tuesday, May 4, 2021

IWSG for May


It's the first Wednesday of the month so it's time for the Insecure Writers Support Group!

This month's question is a doozy!

Has any of your readers ever responded to your writing in a way that you didn't expect? If so, did it surprise you?

I'm constantly surprised by the responses I get from readers.  I don't outline or plan anything much before I start writing, so it's always a surprise when people tell me that I've layered information through the story in a compelling way.  It's not something I do consciously at all!

To be honest, any kind of structure in my books is accidental.  I don't map story beats or turning points or anything like that.  I just write.  But I do think that because I read a lot, and always have, the structure just naturally falls into place because I know what a book looks like.  I never even change much in that respect when editing.  At most I cut longwinded stuff from the beginning to cut to the action more quickly.

Recently I've been pleasantly surprised by the response I've had from reviewers for my new book.  While I love this book for a number of reasons, it's not the one I would call my best.  Yet this book has obviously struck a chord somewhere because I've had some pretty fantastic reviews for it.

Less pleasant surprises have come when one reader told me she thought my MC in one of my yet-to-be-published novels came across as racist because of the way she described herself.  That was a real eye-opener to me!  I was not intending to be racist at all - the character is mixed-race - and her descriptions of herself were supposed to show her discomfort in her own skin as she navigates the worlds of her divorced parents.

It's always fun to hear from readers about what they get out of my stories.  By the time I finish writing I usually have some idea what I've been trying to say with a book, but readers often mine very different messages from the stories than I thought I was presenting.  Which is wonderful!  I love that the same book can speak to different readers for different reasons.  I love that people can find meaning in my stories I didn't realize I'd put in there.

It's like re-reading books at different stages of your life and finding something new in it each time.  Your own experiences naturally colour what you read and how you experience the world.  It's kind of miraculous when you think about it.  We're all reading the same words on a page, but how we perceive them, react to them, can be wildly different.


  1. I suppose every reader looks at your books through the lens of their own experiences. The important thing is that they take something good out of it!

  2. It's always fun when readers come back and say that they're really impressed with this thing you did...and it was complete coincidence or an accident or something. I've had that with symbolism a few times.

  3. I agree that we should reread our favorite books at different stages of our lives. As writers, too, we see different trick of the trade as we mature in our craft ...