“Everybody wants to feel that you’re writing to a certain demographic because that’s good business, but I’ve never done that … I tried to write stories that would interest me. I’d say, what would I like to read?… I don’t think you can do your best work if you’re writing for somebody else, because you never know what that somebody else really thinks or wants.” — Stan Lee, Brandweek (May 2000)
Who do you write for?
I’d like to say I write for myself. That I follow Lee’s rather exemplary advice and only take my own desires into account when I write stories.
Problem is, I don’t know if I agree with Lee (as much as I respect his work). How do I know that what I like is going to draw others to me, to resonate with a complete stranger? How do I that my favorite type of story to tell is going to keep a reader equally engaged.
I recall the dozens of various writing classes and groups I’ve attended. There are the individuals who take critique well, the individuals who perhaps take critique too well (the category I fit into), and the individuals who resist all critiques. They have such a strong belief in their story and the way their story is presented that they cannot bear to change it. And yet their writing had failed to resonate with any other writers in the group.
I took a screenplay course once, taught by two professional screenplay writers who lived in Los Angeles. One of the biggest lessons I learned in that class had been written in giant letters across the white board on the very first day.
KILL YOUR BABIES.
Recall my story about my terrible flashback that I absolutely adored? I wrote that flashback in this class. That flashback was my baby, and I killed it. The end product that I had written by the end of that class remains the piece of writing of which I am the most proud.
However, my muse was all my own. Pre-editing, I did write exactly what I wanted to read. And the story and strong characters remained even stronger through the vicious editing process. To Lee’s credit, perhaps he was discussing the muse which directs our initial stories.
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- Happy Birthday, Stan Lee! (tannerwillbanks.wordpress.com)
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- The Writing Muse: Fear (joebeernink.com)
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