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Forum: Story Discussion and Feedback

Readers abandoning a story

cave jug

Hi there authors,
have no idea how will this pan out on this forum, but I had to try it.
I am one of those that has dropped reading a story, from and conveyed the reasons for it, to him/her. Never got a response even though I was as polite and detailed as I could have been.

I was wondering if the messages from "dropouts" have any effect on the author, and should the readers bother with feedback of that kind. The fact is, very few are able to take a criticism gracefully and it is the human nature to favor the praise rater then complains.
Cheers

Switch Blayde

First, the no reply is, unfortunately, normal on SOL. I almost stopped providing feedback completely, and when I break down and do I don't get a reply. So it may not have anything to do with you telling him you didn't finish the story.

I've never received that kind of feedback and was surprised when you said you did it. I would guess most authors would not take that kindly. It seems all they want is to be told how great it was. Anything else generates either a no reply or a not too pleasant one. For an author to hear the reader didn't even finish his story would be heartbreaking to them.

I would think it would be valuable information, if you told him why. But that's me.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@cave jug


I am one of those that has dropped reading a story, from and conveyed the reasons for it, to him/her. Never got a response even though I was as polite and detailed as I could have been.

It might depend on the specific nature of the story and you reasons for stopping.

Both of my stories have some fairly extreme elements.

I got a response along the lines

You have A in your story A grosses me out you would get more readers If you didn't have A in your story or only mentioned in passing as something that happens "off stage".

A is something I explicitly tagged the story as containing. Now personally, as a Reader If I go looking for stories tagged for A and find stories where A is mentioned but only as something that happens "off stage", that pisses me off.

I didn't respond because the politest possible response would have been: You were warned, if you don't like it get lost.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


I would think it would be valuable information, if you told him why. But that's me.


It depends on what the why is.

If why is problems with how you write that is correctable then the response has value.

If the why is "I don't like stories that contain content like XYZ" that has no value.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@cave jug

I lied. I did get feedback once on a story where the person didn't finish it. The reason for the feedback was oddly asking me about how to score it.

He said it was well written so it deserved a 10. But should it get a 1 because he didn't finish it?

He couldn't finish it because it was about an abused girl and since he worked with abused children it was too real and painful for him to read.

He ended up giving me a 10.

Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

If the why is "I don't like stories that contain content like XYZ" that has no value.


Even that's valuable feedback. I wrote a story with MM and, because of the surprise, MM can't be listed as a story code. I won't ever post that story on SOL because of that attitude.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Ernest Bywater

@cave jug

I am one of those that has dropped reading a story, from and conveyed the reasons for it, to him/her. Never got a response even though I was as polite and detailed as I could have been.


Two points here:

1. Author responses: Some authors don't respond to email much, some not at all, and some (like myself) reply to all emails - it just takes a lot of time for various reasons that can be up to 10 weeks.

2. Reason to stop reading: Many readers have various reason to stop reading a story or dislike it, and some will include valid criticism, some won't and some will put in invalid criticism. I've had a few people email they didn't like a story or stories because they were in the present tense, some because they're in the first person. In each case I reply and point out that it's their personal preference and their dislike is a valid personal preference, while my decision to use either or both is my personal preference, thank you very much. Some even go so far as to say first person and / or present tense is totally wrong for writing, then get upset when I point to examples from past great authors who used either on or both.

Depending on how you state your point, it may be seen as criticism or a preference, so that will affect how they reply.

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

I wrote a story with MM and, because of the surprise


What about the story requires it to be a surprise?

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Dominions Son


What about the story requires it to be a surprise?


Since it won't be posted again, I'll have the spoiler here.

A guy picks up a girl hitchhiker. I don't remember the details, but she says she's running away because people in her small (or maybe conservative) town don't understand her. She comes on to the the guy.

They pull over in a cornfield (I think) in the darkness of the night and she bends over telling him she wants it in the ass. He fucks her like that and (if I remember right) reaches around to rub her clit or something when he finds a dick.

During the whole story the reader thinks it's a girl and guy. Only at the very end do you find out it wasn't. The surprise.

Someone once suggested I have another scene with two guys to justify the MM, but that would be writing a story for the codes rather than the other way around.

Replies:   Dominions Son
sejintenej
Updated:

Interesting exchanges here. A story can be very well written by an author I follow (mentioned elsewhere here) but I stopped reading after about 6 chapters because the plot didn't gel with me - that is a personal thing. Should I complain to him? No way. I've corresponded with him in the more distant past and he was regretful about the source of my enquiry.

I don't think I have ever told a writer he is b a d .
I have on many occasions picked up on typos and the like and sometimes had very acceptable acknowledgements.
I have never had an unpleasant reply; some time after an exchange of messages I discovered in his blog a request to stop emailing him due to personal events but he still replied - thank you and apololgies if he reads this.

@Dominions Son : just because someone doesn't like XYZ half of the other readers might like that classification.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

You could post it with the caution tag.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Dominions Son

@sejintenej

just because someone doesn't like XYZ half of the other readers might like that classification.


Which I why I think such complaints have little value.

Argon
Updated:

@cave jug


I am one of those that has dropped reading a story, from and conveyed the reasons for it, to him/her. Never got a response even though I was as polite and detailed as I could have been.


Hi, to be cynical, why waste a perfectly good five minutes on answering an email by a professed ex-reader? Taking you literally, you dropped the story. Why answer, and more importantly how? Let us not forget that during posting, authors are very busy to edit and format the next chapters and to answer the emails from their remaining readers.

Would it really help you to get a "Sorry you feel like this. Maybe I'll see you back with my next story."? Would it help the author to write a rebuttal of the reasons you stated? Remember, you quit for a reason, and the author will not rewrite the story at that point to address your issues. It definitely would not help if the author answered on impulse with "Don't let the door hit your ass!".

With this in mind, what sort of answer do you expect? Just curious.

Replies:   Zom  samuelmichaels
Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

You could post it with the caution tag.


That wouldn't help. MM is a no-no, and to surprise a reader with MM sex, well, I'm not a masochist.

richardshagrin

Most of the time I quit reading a story its because I lose suspension of disbelief. One recent example I have tried to struggle through the early chapters several times in part because other stories by that author have been very good. The hero finds early in the story he is a son and only heir to an English nobleman. The hero is totally American and there is no foreshadowing in the story of this hard for me to believe point, nor did I see anything in the tags or story description about it. I swallowed that the girl he loves is the daughter of a billionaire who goes to a ritzy girls school and that nearly 18 she is the only virgin at the school. The story goes on trying to make these characters seem normal, but I can't force myself to suspend disbelief. I am sure lots, maybe all other readers can get over these "Really?" moments. I don't mind a hero with a big cock or over 6 feet high or Mensa level intelligence. At some point when characteristics that could be encountered once in a billion times conjoin that I decide they are forgettable freaks.

Switch Blayde

@richardshagrin

Most of the time I quit reading a story its because


Because I get bored. It's that simple.

Capt Zapp

@richardshagrin

I quit reading a story its because I lose suspension of disbelief.


Sounds like why I quit watching the news.

Woman of the year - Caitlyn Jenner (Really? a man is the woman of the year?)

"I'm a girl in a boy's body so you have to let me use the girl's locker room"

"It's only a clock so now I want millions of dollars in damages."

Totally unbelievable, but true.

awnlee jawking

@richardshagrin


forgettable freaks.


I saw what you did there. Clever.

For what it's worth, my suspension of disbelief survived past yours, but I found the story denouement very taxing.

AJ

Replies:   funkso
awnlee jawking

@Ernest Bywater

I have abandoned several stories. The two main reasons were that a) the story was so badly written as to be virtually incomprehensible or b) the author abandoned storytelling and switched to lecturing on eg their cod economic theories.

AJ

Zom
Updated:

@Argon


Why answer


On one occasion I decided to drop a story because one of the behavioural tags became ALL of the story. It just dominated everything. Not my favourite tag, but I was willing to deal with it in moderation for other content, and the writing style was good; and I said so in a feedback.

Instead of ignoring me or being terse, the author explained that the dominating tag related action died off eventually and suggested I start reading again from a certain chapter, not yet posted. I did, and enjoyed the rest of the story, and later stories by the same author.

So there CAN be value in feeding back a dropout, and there CAN be value in the author responding to same. I found an author I liked, and the author now has a constant reader.

Thankfully neither of us had a simplistic view of the world.

Zom

@richardshagrin

One recent example

Interesting. I had no problem with suspending disbelief for that story, or its sequel. The author goes to lengths to show how both of those things could be, and develops the explanations as the series progresses.

The stories are on my very good list. Perhaps I am a bit less hardened :-).

Wheezer

The main reason I have for abandoning a story is simple: It starts to bore me to tears.

The next most common reason is when the author's personal politics (usually, but not always extreme right-wing conservative) seriously intrude on the flow of the story.

Bad writing really doesn't count. I'll pick up on that in the first few paragraphs, so don't count as abandoning that which never really started.

The only time I ever wrote another author about why I was abandoning their story is when, after a few chapters, the author started adding explicit MM sex scenes between the main characters without tagging MM or gay. The author took offense, ranted at me, and 1-bombed my stories.

funkso

@awnlee jawking

For what it's worth, my suspension of disbelief survived past yours, but I found the story denouement very taxing.


I'm glad I'm not the only one - I wrote the author without response. I've written him with things I like, but I was a touch annoyed on four main points:

1) The quick resolution of the drama.
2) Almost no resolution or "send off" for the other characters.
3) "I'm not going to England, I have no interest in going to England, they will never make me go to England."
4) The whole setup through the story was looking forward to the post-graduation party, and the story ends just before the party.

It felt like the author had seen too many YA novels end as a setup for the next book and figured that was how it's done.

That said, I enjoyed the heck out of the story for what it was, as I do all his stories - he really is a great author, who gives a fun tale.

Replies:   Grant  Bondi Beach  rustyken
cave jug
Updated:

@cave jug

Thank you all for contributing to this thread. I'm glad I'm not the only one, quite a few of you have dropped a story which has lost its appeal, you may or you may not send a feedback, and you may or may not received a response.

My main beef is bad language, Grammar, spelling, and last but not least a poor vocabulary. You may say am to choosy, and rightly so, once a story went for just under three years held my interest for so long and suddenly got wrapped up so poorly with half the subplots left hanging. I felt cheated.

Another turned out to be over 140 chapters, codes promised a lot, (as per my personal taste} but when I've put it through a word counter, this chap was telling me a story of such length with just over 1100 different words. A vocabulary of such kind can not hold anyones attention for long, can it?

Grant

@funkso

I'm glad I'm not the only one - I wrote the author without response. I've written him with things I like, but I was a touch annoyed on four main points:

1) The quick resolution of the drama.

Then you get those stories with the totally opposite; the dragging out of the drama which becomes somewhat trying & often ridiculous.
I read stories for entertainment, for never ending drawn out drama I just deal with the people I have to work with.

The important thing for me is that what ever occurs fits in with the world/universe the story is based in.
The big drama at the end came out of nowhere (as they often do) and seemed highly improbable, but the explanations that followed as to why it occurred were plausible & in keeping with the characters as they had been developed (in my mind) and I was glad that it was (mostly) resolved in a matter of days, not weeks or months.

3) "I'm not going to England, I have no interest in going to England, they will never make me go to England."

I agree, it's an annoying trait; so I guess the lead male character isn't so perfect after all?
Stubbornness is a trait in many of the characters in the authors previous stories.
And as odd/annoying as that fixation on that particular topic was, it's not that different from some of the people I've known over the years (and actually a lot milder than one of them).

4) The whole setup through the story was looking forward to the post-graduation party, and the story ends just before the party.

Must admit that interpretation never occurred to me.
It wasn't about the party, just them finally finishing high school to head off to college. I never considered the graduation party as being of any importance, just another chance for "stuff" to happen.

Replies:   funkso
Bondi Beach

@funkso

@awnlee jawking
For what it's worth, my suspension of disbelief survived past yours, but I found the story denouement very taxing.

I'm glad I'm not the only one - I wrote the author without response. I've written him with things I like, but I was a touch annoyed on four main points:


What story is this?

bb

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Bondi Beach

Unforgettable Weeks by Jay Cantrell.

I am not sure if the pen name indicates he can trell or can't rell. I can't find a definition of either rell or trell as a verb, mostly its a name. There was a Governor of Connecticut named Rell, it also is an abbreviation for Redwood Empire Little league. Perhaps it is not an English verb but in some other language?

Ernest Bywater

@richardshagrin

I am not sure if the pen name indicates he can trell or can't rell.


Maybe they will help with the name:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cantrell

there's also a few places with the name Cantrell, and Jay is a fairly common name and nickname.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cantrell_Peak

funkso

@Grant

Then you get those stories with the totally opposite; the dragging out of the drama which becomes somewhat trying & often ridiculous.


Spoilers

There's 115 chapters and a few main drama points - the family dynamics, Andy's parentage, going to Stanford, and in the end they break up. They break up at ch 110, and get back together with almost no discussion in ch 115.

Then it's off to England together.

There was this overarching "villain" in the background of Regan's maternal grandfather, who started everything and controlled the family, and was one of the main drivers of the problems in Regan's family - and he set them up to break up, and then was told to butt out. I'm assuming there will be a lot more in Book 3, but it was very disappointing.

I agree, it's an annoying trait; so I guess the lead male character isn't so perfect after all?


The stubbornness wasn't an issue at all, that's a character trait - the last couple of paragraphs is "Dad asked me to go to England! Let's go to England!" ... okay, so he got a great relationship with his father, but there was no discussion or addressing of the point he was stubborn and adamant he wouldn't ever go to England, and the next we hear of it he's inviting his girlfriend to England. That's where I have a slight issue with it. Even a single comment in the meantime that his stance on that was softening, although the relationship forming was great, would have made it more welcome.

Must admit that interpretation never occurred to me.


Fair enough, for me it set an expectation, it was a Checkov's Gun in the story.

I am not sure if the pen name indicates he can trell or can't rell.


I like to think he's secretly Jerry Cantrell.

Replies:   Grant
samuelmichaels

@Argon

"Sorry you feel like this. Maybe I'll see you back with my next story."

I think this is the best answer, assuming you do want to get more readers for your next story.

When a reader get no response, they get annoyed. At least I do, even if I accept that the author may be busy or not have anything he wants to say. A bland answer still shows the author cares. I am human -- a response from an author makes me more likely to try his next story.

Grant

@funkso

"Dad asked me to go to England! Let's go to England!" ... okay, so he got a great relationship with his father, but there was no discussion or addressing of the point he was stubborn and adamant he wouldn't ever go to England, and the next we hear of it he's inviting his girlfriend to England. That's where I have a slight issue with it. Even a single comment in the meantime that his stance on that was softening, although the relationship forming was great, would have made it more welcome.


Yeah, Jay's not the only author here where characters make a sudden change in their stance on something. Maybe it will be addressed (like the issue with the Grandfather) in the following book, but it would have been nice if it were done in the current story.
I guess sudden changes in stance don't get me as much as they used to, particularly if there are other abrupt changes that are addressed as or after they occur.
I guess my biggest issue is when there are multiple breaks from character, or unexpected behaviours that aren't explained at all. Or one large one that goes unexplained while there were no other breaks from character.
Whereas in this story there have been several instances where the response wasn't the one expected, but it was explained (one way or another) why. That makes one large one not so difficult to accept (for me anyway).

Replies:   moredrowsy
awnlee jawking

@richardshagrin

Rell is the dalek unit of time. :)

AJ

sarcastic_cynic

@Switch Blayde

It seems all they want is to be told how great it was.


Not an author, but that sounds more like an ego problem, which....nevermind or is it never mind? lol. I too have quit stories. They start great, then, kind of fall apart, oh well.

rustyken

@funkso

I enjoyed the story. The combination of character backgrounds is unusual, but it works. As to the sudden changes, I believe you are seeing two aspects of his personality. The impetus(sp?) and practical.

Replies:   awnlee_jawking
rustyken

As a writer, I appreciate feedback and acknowledge them. As for the errors that slip through the preparation, I try to fix them when the next chapter posts.

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay

@rustyken

That is why when ever I read a story. I try and remember to at least send the writer a thank you note. With or without other comments about the story, I feel a writer deserves at least that much from me.

awnlee_jawking

@rustyken


impetus(sp?)


impetuous?

AJ

Replies:   MarissaHorne
MarissaHorne

@awnlee_jawking

Impetus - A force propelling a person or object.

Impetuous - A tendency to act on the spur of the moment.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@cave jug

Cavejug, unlike Switch, I have received those "Dear John" letters for readers. The kind that always start "I really liked your story, but ...".

To be honest, while I doubt many authors would respond to it, I found them to be incredibly insightful and I conversed with the letter writers (two of them) fairly extensively.

Normally, if readers abandon a story, the author never hears why. Beta readers are fine, but they can't identify every potential issue with a story. Sometimes, it's necessary to get the answer directly from the horse's mouth (pardon the crude analogy).

However, I've discovered it's important to talk directly with the letter writer (generally via email) because the reason why stopped rarely is because of the quoted reason. I usually detect an unstated undercurrent in the letters, and when I get them to open up, I generally reveal the deeper underlying issue the reader might not even be aware of. (I'm not saying that's the case with you, cavejug, just that you've got to be careful and dig deeper than the initial response.)

However, I've never heard from anyone else who took my approach to the problem, and there aren't many who'd write that kind of response in the first place.

Argon, I also include the "Maybe you'll like my next story better", where I outline why the next story is different, so they're forewarned. No sense losing a loyal reader who's willing to speak their mind just because of a difference of opinion.

switched to lecturing on eg their cod economic theories.


Awnlee, I'm always interested in Cod economic theories. I never even knew they have a currency system! 'D

The only time I ever wrote another author about why I was abandoning their story is when, after a few chapters, the author started adding explicit MM sex scenes between the main characters without tagging MM or gay. The author took offense, ranted at me, and 1-bombed my stories.


Wheezer, I'm sorry, but 1-bombing an author for having an opinion about gay sex is as bad as 1-bombing an author for writing gay stories. They're both equally as insensitive to other opinions. I hate to say it, but hopefully that author no longer resides here.

The stubbornness wasn't an issue at all, that's a character trait - the last couple of paragraphs is "Dad asked me to go to England! Let's go to England!" ... okay, so he got a great relationship with his father, but there was no discussion or addressing of the point he was stubborn and adamant he wouldn't ever go to England, and the next we hear of it he's inviting his girlfriend to England.


funkso, that may not be a lack of development, but a lack of editing. Many authors write and post their stories a chapter at a time, thus they don't anticipate how the characters change over time, or what needs foreshadowing and what doesn't. Many of us write out the entire first draft just so we can revise the entire story to improve the story's consistency and remove the faults we inadvertently leave behind. Sadly, this isn't very common on SOL.

Fair enough, for me it set an expectation, it was a Checkov's Gun in the story.


For every Checkov's Gun in a story, there are Red Herrings as well. The key is recognizing which is which (again, that depends on the author setting the stage, which requires him knowing in advance where the story is going).

I too have quit stories. They start great, then, kind of fall apart, oh well.


Sarcastic Cynic, that's not so much a weak story as an author's weakness. Some authors just aren't good at dialogue, others sex scenes, while some (including many famous ones) simply have no feel for endings. About all you can do is recognize it as a flaw in their stories and keep in mind when you read another (if you ever do).

richardshagrin

@Crumbly Writer

I suppose some authors are so good at endings they only write very short stories.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@richardshagrin

I suppose some authors are so good at endings they only write very short stories.


An author like that should write the stories backwards. Write the ending first and then work backwards to figure out how the characters go there.

Wheezer

@Crumbly Writer

Here's what's so irritating about the 1-bombs from this guy. He also called me a homophobe, which is hilarious. Anyone visiting my FB page under my actual name will quickly come to the realization that I am a very outspoken supporter of LGBT rights.
I'm not a homophobe. I just do not enjoy reading about MM gay sex. Not particularly fond of FF sex either, or mother/son, or.... My issue was with the author not tagging his stories.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin
Updated:

@Wheezer

Just noodling around, with homophobe. Would the opposite be a homophone? Thinking about the shape for a homophone.... Would you want to call home using a homophone? Lets work with the idea that it would be easy to get a really wrong number using a homophone. One of the more popular numbers would be 69 and 77 because you get ate more with 77 than 69.

How did Mmmmm become a sound used for approval when some people don't like Mm stories?

One suggestion I found on line was that the opposite of homophobia was hetrophobia. Dislike of people attracted to the opposite sex.

Homophones might be a similar word with a different meaning, like principal and principle. Not a telephone used by persons attracted to the same sex. Would that make it a homophone?

Talking about homophones, the words that sound the same but have different meanings, are Polish (person from Poland) and polish (what you do to make something shine) homophones?

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@richardshagrin

Just noodling around, with homophobe. Would the opposite be a homophone?


No. phobe is a reference to phobia which is a irrational fear. The forces of political correctness are very fond of labeling even mild dislike of something as a phobia.

So a homophobe by usage is someone afraid of homosexuals.

The opposite of that would be a homophile

awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer


I'm always interested in Cod economic theories. I never even knew they have a currency system!


They happen to have a comprehensive fishscale policy :)

AJ

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

They happen to have a comprehensive fishscale policy :)


But you really have to watch out for their bottom-of-the-harbour schemes or you'll get ripped off.

Replies:   Capt Zapp
Capt Zapp

@Ernest Bywater

But you really have to watch out for their bottom-of-the-harbour schemes or you'll get ripped off.


Only if you take the bait.

richardshagrin
Updated:

They collect on delivery, that's why its COD.
I think I may abandon this fish story. Its a matter of scale. And most of the characters are below C level, I can't see it.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@richardshagrin

I can't see it.


I'm sure you can when it's a whale of a tale.

odave44

This thread seems like a good place to mention something that has been bothering me for a long time. Authors who write an excellent story, or at least begin an excellent story but have what seem to me to be bad writing habits that just seem to distract from the story to the point I stop reading it. I'll give two examples.
Author 1 writes wonderful romantic stories, usually involving rescuing a damsel in distress. He does great character development. BUT, he has some habits this just rub me the wrong way. He always is a rich guy living alone with his cat...no problem, I love cats. But it's the dialog. It always sounds exactly the same in every story. The main characters start using short incomplete sentences, often one or two words, and then echo each other. "Kiss?", "Kiss." I know it sounds petty, but this goes on and on, and it is in every story. The problem is I've never met anyone who talks like this. And all of his characters, in every story talk like this. It seems a writer with this kind of talent should be able to alter the "feel" of the story each time. If not it is essentially writing the same story over and over.
Writer number two sets up wonderful sci-fi stories with great characters, but like many authors, the sex gets in the way. Every woman he meets immediately has sex with him. They are often there through circumstance other than their own choice, yet have no problem instantly falling into bed with a stranger, and it is almost always multiple women at the same time. For me that is a plot that is very difficult to make work.
So, my question is this. Is there any way to positively comment to these kind of authors (and only one has email)? Would any kind of comment help? Or am I asking someone to change the basic nature of their writing? Thanks.

Ernest Bywater

@odave44

Would any kind of comment help? Or am I asking someone to change the basic nature of their writing? Thanks.


I know some authors include gratuitous sex scenes because they think they have to be there for the story to be on SoL, but that isn't the case, despite some people frequently making that claim. If you mention how you see the stories the author may or may not change what they do, but they won't even think to make a change unless someone tells them how they feel about it.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Crumbly Writer

@odave44

Writer number two sets up wonderful sci-fi stories with great characters, but like many authors, the sex gets in the way. Every woman he meets immediately has sex with him. They are often there through circumstance other than their own choice, yet have no problem instantly falling into bed with a stranger, and it is almost always multiple women at the same time. For me that is a plot that is very difficult to make work.

When I read this, like I suspect most of us did, I had to wonder who you were referring to me (I did two series like this, but I wrote those largely to come up with a potentially 'realistic' harem environment, rather than trying to capitalize on the whole 'harem' genre.

As for repeating two word dialogues, that's a very limited flaw. Since it's not a widespread phenomenon, it's easy to avoid. Until he learns how to write dialogue for people (and not cats), I'd print out his stories and use them for you kitty's litter box.

That said, I've got the opposite but still similar problem. In order to prevent my stories from sounding repetitive, I strive to eliminate repeated words/terms/phrases, which often ends with everyone speaking similarly (when I write a person 'in character', I tend to drop their vocabularies).

cave jug

@odave44

Very good example of an insignificant bit becoming a major annoyance. I've read few chapters of a story, can not recall the author or the title. When a new chapter started with...."Beep, beep, beep".....for the third time, I stopped reading and deleted it from my downloads, never to go back.
And I still do not know "why" I did it, but it surly was very annoying.

Replies:   richardshagrin
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

I know some authors include gratuitous sex scenes because they think they have to be there for the story to be on SoL


An you know what they were thinking how?

How do you know that the story wasn't just and excuse for the sex scene?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

An you know what they were thinking how?


When I read a story and the sex scenes appear to be just thrown in without any relevance to the plot, I often email the author and ask about it. Most of the ones I ask say they stuck in the scenes because they felt they were needed. A couple have removed the sex scenes and also placed the stories at Fine Stories, but left the original version here at SoL. However, some of their later stories are no sex stories because they now know they do not have to have sex scenes in the story.

richardshagrin

@cave jug

"Beep, beep, beep, beep" (usually the story has four in a row) is from LA Fun. It might be better if the author remarked at the beginning of chapter the hero's cell phone alarm sounded. It also goes off around 4:45 pm so he can herd all the workers out of the offices he manages. Its a pretty good story. I do want to mention if it were set in New Orleans the title would be NO Fun.

Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

Its a pretty good story. I do want to mention if it were set in New Orleans the title would be NO Fun.

"NO Fun" might actually be a cute story title (for those who bother opening it).

Ernest Bywater

@richardshagrin

NO Fun.


That'd be a good title for a story about a guy who enters the porn industry thinking it'd be fun, and soon learns a lot of it is hard work and often the sex is no fun at all.

Slutsinger

@Ernest Bywater

Would you mind pointing me at one of your present-tense stories you're reasonably to very happy with. I'm realizing that I can't think of a present-tense story I thought went well, but that is more because of lack of exposure than anything else. So I'd like to give it a try. I totally get that if I don't like it it's my problem, but I appreciate broadening my reading.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Slutsinger

@cave jug

In general any feedback I get that helps me appreciate the mind of a reader would be valuable. As others have pointed out if it's just that you don't like the thing I'm writing about, I may not be interested in addressing your feedback but it's helpful anyway. Some authors are more willing to change what they are writing about in order to get more readers. I'm probably less willing than average to do that: I have universes and themes running around in my head trying to get out, and I'm wwriting for those who find those particular universes and themes interesting (even if that's a small number of readers). However, I'd love to do a good job of helping readers identify as early as possible whether my story is for them. I'd also love to learn to reach as many readers as possible while saying what I have to say.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater

@Slutsinger

Most of my stories are present tense, my Clan Amir series was written some years ago and could do with some revision, but may appeal to you. There's short stories, novellas, and novels in it.

http://storiesonline.net/series/1185/clan-amir

The Truth About Paradise, Star Performance, Times of Old, Grammar - that should give you a mix of short stories and novels to try. Present tense gives a more immediacy to most stories, especially action or adventure stories.

http://storiesonline.net/s/55570/the-truth-about-paradise

http://storiesonline.net/s/67755/star-performance

http://storiesonline.net/s/74132/times-of-old

http://storiesonline.net/s/68667/grammar

Here's my story page:

http://storiesonline.net/a/Ernest_Bywater

If I have a Prelude or a Foreword, it's usually a good idea to read it because it'll have something you may not know but will help you to understand the story.

Replies:   docholladay  Slutsinger
docholladay

@Ernest Bywater

If I have a Prelude or a Foreword


I always read your Preludes and Forewords. I can always learn some thing new or expand on what I have learned before hand. I find your Preludes and other notes very informative.

red61544

@cave jug

Usually, if I'm going to dump a story, I don't get beyond the first chapter before abandoning ship. There are two notable exceptions. When, in later chapters, the author adds codes that squick me, I get angry and dump the story. If I wanted WS or scat, I'd do a search for it. Don't try to sneak it in on me. Second, and this is a more frequent occurrence, when an author doesn't know when or how to end the story, eventually I get bored. A good writer knows the ending before he starts writing and everything in the story leads to that conclusion. Wandering aimlessly simply leads to boredom.

sejintenej

@richardshagrin

"Beep, beep, beep, beep"

Also at the start of each part of Second Chance which signals the start of a new life to quickly end in death followed by the beeps

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@sejintenej

Beijing (Beeping) is the capital of China.

Dicrostonyx

cavejug_1

I am one of those that has dropped reading a story, from and conveyed the reasons for it, to him/her. Never got a response even though I was as polite and detailed as I could have been.


I've sent similar emails to a few authors, but generally don't expect a response. When I do, I follow a format of first saying what I like about the story, then giving a single, specific example of what I didn't like, and finally offering to discuss my issues in more detail if the author so desires.

The fact is, very few are able to take a criticism gracefully and it is the human nature to favor the praise rater then complains.


There is also a problem of some sites having policies along the lines of "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything". This is especially a problem in the fan fiction community, which tends to skew younger than SOL. As a result, many amateur authors have only seen compliments and have an inflated sense of their own abilities. It always reminds me of contestants on talent shows who have clearly never had anyone say "dear, you just can't sing".

Reasons to stop reading.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about this over the years, in part because my reasons have changed; so much so that I could probably write an essay on the subject. In brief, my issues with non-erotic stories come down to three general issues:

1. Suspension of disbelief, especially with regards to character traits, development, psychology, and reactions;
2. Spelling, grammar, diction, foreshadowing, and other technical elements;
3. Anachronism, inaccuracy, and internal consistency.

Unless technical issues make the story unreadable, I generally won't drop an interesting story for just one of the above, it has to have multiple issues. There simply comes a point where the frusatrations overwhelm the enjoyment and I lose confidence in the author's ability to entertain me.

Note: I am a "tough marker", so to speak. I do not judge less experienced authors any differently than I would a professionally published author just because the story is freely available. My reasoning is that regardless of who the author is, it takes the same amount of time for me to read it, and my time is valuable.

Stories which include sex have a whole new set of problems, in addition to those above. Aside from, bad tagging and sex scenes shoved in unnecessarily, many are clearly written by authors with more experience reading about it than doing, leading to compounding inaccuracies. It's also somewhat amazing how few stories are actually written to titillate, rather than just being action.

Replies:   aubie56
aubie56

@Dicrostonyx

It's also somewhat amazing how few stories are actually written to titillate, rather than just being action.


Would you care to elaborate with a pair of examples?

Replies:   ustourist  Dicrostonyx
ustourist

@aubie56

Would you care to elaborate with a pair of examples

I took the comment to mean that they tend to be pornographic rather than erotic, so it was clear in my mind, but of course that all comes down to a personal opinion of each story.

Dicrostonyx
Updated:

@aubie56


Would you care to elaborate with a pair of examples?


Sure, I can do examples. In short, though, ustourist is generally correct, but the problem isn't the so much the inclusion of pornographic action rather than the lack of any eroticism to flesh out the action, pun not intended. To put it another way, it's the textual equivalent of having sex with no foreplay.

Note: I feel somewhat uncomfortable giving examples of something that I dislike, because it feels like insulting someone in absentia, but I'm too much of an academic to not accredit quotes. So if any author quoted does see this, please do not take offence, I am only saying that I dislike this style. If nothing else, the fact that I remember your story and can quote it (or can find that passage in a saved copy), does mean that I enjoyed the story to some extent.

Example 1

Oddly, there's actually a great example of both titillation and a lack thereof in the same story: Destiny's Road by Lumpy. I've actually stopped reading the story -- it checks way too many of the boxes above -- but I read the first several chapters because I liked the premise and was hoping that it would get better.


She pulled a chair up so it was right in front of the bed, and pulled me to sit in it. She then started to slowly take off her clothes. I was captivated. Her breasts were either a large B or a small C and swelled nicely. When her bra came off, her nipples were already poking out and seemed to be calling to me. The lines of her stomach were curvy and feminine. As she pulled her panties off I could see a patch of light brown hair just above her otherwise shaved pussy, the hair making an almost heart. She reached over and grabbed my hand.

"Women have a lot of erogenous zones, areas that when played with affect us and turn us on, more than just the two obvious ones. Every girl is different and has different areas that work for us. Sometimes, it's not even consistent for one girl. Nibbling on her collar-bone, might get a girl hot one day, and not really do anything the next. But let's talk about those obvious areas first. On most women the breasts and nipples are sensitive."

She took my hand and had me squeeze her breast. I didn't wait for more instruction here and followed the road map I had laid out previously with Zoe. I gave her breast a gentle squeeze and then ran my thumbs lightly over her nipples then circled them before rubbing over them again. She rolled her head back and moaned.


Not the most evocative description that I've ever read, but at least it tries. More importantly, it seems fairly genuine in the attempt to capture the near reverence that a teen-aged boy often feels when faced with his first pair of real breasts.

Unfortunately, things go down hill rapidly only a few paragraphs later:


She pushed me back, sat up and spread her legs.

"How about here. Have you ever touched one of these, before?"

I shook my head no. She grabbed my hand, and led my fingers around as she gave directions. She walked me through all the major points and used my fingers to show me the best way to get responses. She gave me warnings about areas that might be too sensitive and how to best deal with those.

Using my fingers, she started rubbing them over the top of her slit lightly, slowly speeding up. Her breath was starting to come in short pants. Never the slow study, I pulled my hand away. Her eyes flew open and she let out a soft whimper. I leaned up across her body near her ear and whispered.


Notice the difference? There's no description of what she looks like below the waist. Is she naturally hairy, trimmed, or shaved? How does the colour of her pubic hair compare to her head? Are her lips puffy, dangling, flat, taut, gaping, flushed, oily, slick, dry, soft, smooth...? Is her scent mild or strong, spicy or sweet, does he look forward to tasting her or can he only think about penetration? Yes, there's minimal description of her pubic area in the first quoted passage, but this passage should have more detail.

This isn't a teen fumbling in the back seat of a car trying to get into her before she changes her mind, the girl is expressly giving him a tour so that he will be more experienced. There is no story reason to jump straight to the action, and every reason to take some time describing every little detail.

Now I could be wrong, but to me this reads like those two paragraphs separate the limit of the author's own experience (or memory, if older), and they couldn't be bothered to actually read up on the subject.

I'll look up a few (hopefully shorter) examples by other authors if you'd like. I've been noticing this more and more over the past few years, but I suspect that it's just bothering me more rather than being an actual change in what is available.

Replies:   richardshagrin  aubie56
richardshagrin

@Dicrostonyx

Some sacrifices must be made to keep story size manageable, or to insert more tabs A into slots B in the same size story.

Insert some comment about the difference between Fine writing, SOL and Fine Stories. There isn't much description of eroticism in Fine writing and Fine Stories.

aubie56

@Dicrostonyx

Thank you. I see your point and that I have been guilty of too much of the latter example and not enough of the former example. You have been very educational, and I appreciate the help.

Replies:   Slutsinger
Slutsinger

@Ernest Bywater

Thank you very much. Those read much more smoothly than the present tense stories I've run across on SOL previously. I'll explore and see if I can articulate why; it seems an interesting exercise.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Slutsinger

@aubie56

As a reader, I actually prefer people not over-due the descriptive details. If you're providing me as a reader a detail, you're denying my imagination the chance to fill in that detail with something that works best for me. Obviously, taking this to the limit, I sholudn't read the story at all and should just imagine the whole thing:-) However, I tend to favor fairly spartan descriptions of people and clothes, focusing details on how they react to the action. My problem with the second example above was not the lack of description of her pubic region. It's that the experience is disconnected. The first sentence, where she "gave examples" and gave a tour. In the first passage, the writer shows us the tour of the breast. In the second passage, the writer simply tells us that tour happened. That to me is more of a problem than a lack of description. I also suspect the pacing broke between the two passages but I have not read the story. It's clear to me that different readers prefer different levels of description. I do happen to enjoy your stories better when you can show and really get into your characters; there are some times where you capture the action without the emotional aspects of the experience. However, you've also done some really great work; thanks for contributing and giving us all something to read.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater  aubie56
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Slutsinger


I'll explore and see if I can articulate why; it seems an interesting exercise.


A lot of present tense stories at SoL are also first person, and that requires a difference in the way you write to get it right. Another thing is a lot of people who write present tense stories have issues for the first few times they write them, simply because they think the only change in they way you write is the tense of certain words - while this is true, you also have to change some of the sentence structure to get it to flow more smoothly, and you have to drop certain words like 'that' in some situations because they no longer suit the sentence.

From my experience present tense in stories written using Formal English don't seem to flow as well as present tense stories written in the vernacular. Mind you, past tense stories in the vernacular don't seem to flow as well as present tense stories in the vernacular.

edit to fix typo

Replies:   Slutsinger
Ernest Bywater

@Slutsinger

As a reader, I actually prefer people not over-due the descriptive details.


That's an area of a whole other discussion. In general I do not go into details of people's description and descriptions of places etc. However, where I feel the detail is very important to a part of the story, then I will go into as much detail as I think is needed for the story purposes. I get some complaints about the detail, but a few times I've had complaints about them not having enough detail for people to picture it right. that's why a few stories have had images added to show the item or area concerned.

Replies:   ustourist
ustourist

@Ernest Bywater

In general I do not go into details of people's description and descriptions of places etc.

I think the biggest problem some authors create is when the main character is described in too detailed a manner.
Depending mainly, though not exclusively, on whether it is first person viewpoint, a good writer may allow the reader to enter into the character concerned and view him/her/itself as being there.
If the description is too detailed, such as a portly, balding, bearded northerner with a small penis, then there is no way I could remove enough from reality to see it through that character's eyes. If the MC description is omitted or just kept to a basic male, mid twenties, jeans and t-shirt, then it enables a much greater readership to enter the character. It probably also helps to keep them on the younger side because everyone has experienced that, whereas youngsters couldn't as easily take the mindset of a cantankerous old fart.
The problem isn't as great when local dialect is used, but that does sometimes cause a difficulty when it is too far away from how I would think and say things.
I haven't ever found either problem with your stories, so can't fault your style in that respect.

aubie56

@Slutsinger

Thank you. I'll keep that in mind.

Ernest Bywater

@ustourist

I think the biggest problem some authors create is when the main character is described in too detailed a manner.


True, but what really gets me is when the author gives a description so detailed a police sketch artist can come up with a perfect image that's likely to only match one person if they really exist. That's too excessive, there should be enough detail to allow the reader to picture the person, but vague enough they can put their own spin on the image in their mind, unless a specific detail is needed for the story. By allowing the reader to fill in the details you give them a chance to take ownership of part of the story while they sink further into it.

Dicrostonyx

@ustourist

If the description is too detailed, such as a portly, balding, bearded northerner with a small penis, then there is no way I could remove enough from reality to see it through that character's eyes.


Personally, I don't necessarily want to see through the character's eyes, though it does depend on the type of story, as well as the point of view of the text. This is especially true for stories which have multiple POV characters; in these cases, the story is more like a film about a bunch of other people than a day-dream about yourself in other circumstances.

Still, choice of adjective might be important here. Calling someone "portly and balding" isn't particularly specific, both words cover a wide range of appearances, allowing the reader to decide what he or she considers to be portly. Saying that the character is 30 kilos overweight with a beer-belly and thinning hair, a widow's peak, and a growing bald spot on top is much more specific and harder to apply universally, though again that might be the point.

Years ago I took a short seminar on writing flirtatious poetry in a late-Medieval/ early-Renaissance style. One of the elements stressed by the teacher was to always use adjectives that can be interpreted loosely so that they will be complimentary even if the recipient changes over time, or sees herself (or himself) differently than you do.

The example I remember most clearly is to say "slender", rather than "thin", "fit", "taut", or anything similar. Aside from the fact that many women in modern society perceive themselves as fatter than they are, and put more emphasis on that than most guys do, the problem is that almost everyone will gain weight and lose their tone as they age. A poem about a "slender" woman will remain a treasure for years, but one about a "thin girl" will rapidly become a taunt rather than a gift.

Slutsinger

@Ernest Bywater

Thanks; that was quite articulate, and I believe you've hit the main points. I do agree that sentence flow is something you do a good job of, and I definitely agree that first person present makes things more challenging. If I play with this as a writer it will be to explore your hypothesis that vernacular works better in present tense.

cave jug

@cave jug

Old theme, new case of me abandoning a story. "Conductor" by Richard King. Had enough of it, he is posting book 9 as we speak, I'm at the end of book 3.
At this rate, Richard is monopolizing my time, dragging and padding this tale unnecessarily.
If I am to stick to it, no way I can read any other story nor I'll live long enough to see the end of it.
Sorry Richard, you've joined Roust writer and his "Arlene and Jeff"
Tighter editing would have been more powerful then a long drag and ramble.

Elsewhere on the forum, there is a discussion on legality of posting lyrics. Those of you who have been reading Richards story have noticed lyrics of many songs woven into his tale. Has he got the OK from the authors of those?

Crumbly Writer

@Slutsinger

Some authors are more willing to change what they are writing about in order to get more readers.

I'm not sure anyone writes in order to get more readers. Some authors happen to write novels that sell well, but I suspect that's more due to a commonality of interests--they're only writing what they enjoy--what they feel compelled to write.

Instead, what keeps many authors from responding to suggestions is when they consider a story finished. Some never finish a story, some consider a story finished as soon as they post/publish it, never glancing back. Such, most will correct typos, but most are more interested in focusing their energy on future stories, rather than living in the past.

In my case, I'm open to making changes, but I reach a point where, when I make changes, I'm tempted to rewrite the entire book. It's when I reach that point that I stamp "FINISHED" on my novels and stop making changes. And that point varies with each book.

Crumbly Writer

@ustourist

I think the biggest problem some authors create is when the main character is described in too detailed a manner.

We've had discussions about character descriptions here (rather, on the old Google Groups forum). The consensus seems to be (for the most part), that the majority of authors simply leave them off, assuming the reader will fill in the details (i.e. they forget the descriptions).

I take a different interpretation. In short, no matter how you describe someone in a story, unless you reinforce it (the rule of 3), most readers can't remember it. However, the description--if not overly detailed--helps to put you into the scene, rather than pull you out of the story.

I like descriptions, but there's a difference between a description of characters and a list of details. The difference is experiential, what the characters experience, rather than what they look like.

Replies:   Capt Zapp
Capt Zapp

@Crumbly Writer

on the old Google Groups forum)


Is there a way to access the old forum? I joined after the changeover.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Capt Zapp

Is there a way to access the old forum? I joined after the changeover.

I used to have it bookmarked, but had to search for it (after guessing which gmail account I used to sign in).

The address is: Old SOL Google Forum.

You'll need to sign in using a Google Account. Luckily Lazeez never deleted it (yet). There should be a ton of old messages, but they aren't as well organized as the new SOL forum.

Good hunting!

Replies:   Capt Zapp
Capt Zapp

@Crumbly Writer

The address is: Old SOL Google Forum.

You'll need to sign in using a Google Account.


Thanks!

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Capt Zapp

Thanks!

I'm looking forward to your more detailed comments going forward. We old-timers have a tendency to refer to previous discussions, rather than repeating topics we've already beaten to death, so newer members miss much of the discussion.

moredrowsy
Updated:

@Grant

Funny, I just finished skimming Unforgettable Weeks. When, I got to the part where Megan wanted to involve herself with oral sex with others because of 'youthfull curiosity' then I figured the story would turn into a train wreck and I just started skimming instead of fully reading it. The prequel has established Megan's personality as level headed with her sexuality and a spoiled rich brat. Then the sequel throws that all out and starts writing as if she's a slut without common sense.

What's funny when I read Megan getting jealous of her BF getting touched by other girls, I was lmao. How can Megan be so stupid to say she wants to be faithful but then want to 'explore sex with others' and not expect jealously and derailment with her BF being with other girls...

I just find these forced stupid dramas tiresome.

I totally agree with your other points.

The whole story was a huge disappointment from the prequel. What irks me the most is the ridiculous stubborness, lack of common sense, and weird sudden drama without any builup.

What makes me really want to drop a story is when a story is illogical. For example, I was just reading 'The Solitary Arrow' where the heroine gets raped by Orcs in a cave and then rescued as the guy was barely able to kill them. Guess what happens afterwards? They sit and chat and the only thing on her mind is having sex with the protag. HELLO? There are more Orcs out there! Also she just got deflowered and raped and she doesn't think much of it except with some comments that it hurts... you'd figure she'll be traumatized (she did cry for some time) but she sounds so cheerful with the hunky protag... And the premise was so stupid; both protag thought it was a good idea to search the orc infested forest without proper protection despite knowing that her fiance was most likely dead, which got her pointless raped and almost killed. Pretty stupid for a 58 year old elf...

It's so stupid beyond suspension of disbelief. I can't believe the story was rated as 8.55...

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@moredrowsy

How can Megan be so stupid to say she wants to be faithful but then want to 'explore sex with others' and not expect jealously and derailment with her BF being with other girls...


Even smart people can be irrational about some things.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Even smart people can be irrational about some things.

There's a big difference between smart people doing stupid things (like good girls dating someone they classify as 'dangerous') and plots which ignore reality (no rape victim is likely to jump in bed with someone new after just having been attacked, regardless of 'circumstances').

Thuantang's point isn't that author's can't show characters as being conflicted, but that outright idiotic plots fall flat (though, to be honest, they remain popular, as many readers aren't in the least by it.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

outright idiotic plots fall flat


Yes, but as far as Megan wanting to be allowed to 'explore sex with others' while expecting her BF to remain faithful to the point of insane jealousy, there are real people who really think like that.

So, okay, you don't like to read stories like that. Fine, but calling the plot idiotic or unrealistic is going too far.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Yes, but as far as Megan wanting to be allowed to 'explore sex with others' while expecting her BF to remain faithful to the point of insane jealousy, there are real people who really think like that.

True, but in most cases, such behavior is understandable and relatable, as the people doing it are aware of the contradictions in their behavior. If portrayed well, it makes them richer characters.

So, okay, you don't like to read stories like that. Fine, but calling the plot idiotic or unrealistic is going too far.

True enough, it was. I'm not even familiar with the story. What I was relating to was the sense of a plot spirling out of control as the story's internal logic appears to collapse while you're reading a story. I wasn't calling the story idiotic, but describing the sensation the reader feels when they feel disconnected from the story because of plot holes like this.

As I said, for everyone who objects, like Thuantang, there are undoubted several who have no problems with it.

PotomacBob

I will stick with a story as long as (1) I care what happens to one or more of the characters, (2) the author keeps the story moving toward its ultmate conclusion without getting sidetracked for what appears to me to be the sole purpose of adding more unnecessary sex scenes and (3) the author posts frequently enough that I don't have to go back and re-read earlier chapters to remind me whats going on. A year between chapters will not keep me interested.

tppm

When I abandon a story, I just stop reading it, I don't make a big deal of telling the author about it.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@tppm

When I abandon a story, I just stop reading it, I don't make a big deal of telling the author about it.

If you discover you're just not interested in the plot after a couple chapters, or the author really doesn't know what they're doing, that makes sense. However, if you quit because of plot holes, or because your suspension of disbelief was broken, or his use of incorrect terminology spoiled the story for you, then you should let him know. How else will we ever learn?

The key, though, is doing it with caution. Some authors are receptive to suggestions/comments, some would rather be left alone.

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