This is my attempt to explain my thoughts about readers and those that comment. Before you even get into it, let me say thank you. Thank you for reading. Thank you for taking your precious time to read the words that I have put together, hopefully with the goal of overall entertainment.
This is not a fiction story, just my opinion, so you've been warned.
Why my writing is boring.
I have only been putting my thoughts to (virtual) paper for a little over a year and a half. In that time I have come to not only learn quite a few things about writing, but I have also learned a lot of patience.
You've heard this many times in an author's note at the beginning or ending of their story: "Authors don't get payed, so your comments and votes are our only form of payment," or something to that effect. Well, it's true. The part that none of us tell you, is that we are usually a glutton for punishment. At least I know that I still am, sometimes.
When I submit a new story or series, I tend to watch the ratings and comments like a hawk, sometimes several times a day, like sports scores during a particularly tough Monday night football game. I can't help it, I blame human nature.
One thing I can point out is that I have learned to be at peace with what is delivered. Scores are great, but not the end of the world. The comments make for some VERY interesting reading. Some posters will tell you their own mini-story that relates to your writing, whereas others will simply point out the obvious; "Your writing sucks."
I know that. Heck, if I was an "A" list author, I would probably be published right next to James Patterson or Stephen King, but alas I am not. I have accepted that. What I refuse to do is stop writing. I do it to please MYSELF more than anything.
Yes, I sound greedy. Let's face it, I like a little bit of attention for my efforts. That doesn't mean that I write things that I think the reader will think sound good. I come up with ideas, my imagination does the work, and I put it into words. I like to paint a vivid picture, so that the reader might actually feel like they are in the scene, or at the very least watching it from the side of the room. Is that so bad?
I have had many commenters post that some of my more drawn out and boring stories have rated higher than they should have. I have two points to make about this.
One, check a few of my other stories. "What happened to Jim" rated barely above a ~3.5, and received comments that were less than flattering. In this case, a story I wrote didn't get me that coveted Red "H" next to it, but I still felt it was a success. Granted, it was probably completely unnecessary and longer than it should have been, but I was very proud of that story. Whether you (the reader) enjoyed it or not, I know that I did. I had a lot of fun in my own imagination coming up with that one.
Another example; my series, "Temptation." So far a few have rated just over a 4, but the rest are just below the 4 mark. Again, not a scalding hot scoring from the reader base. That's okay too. I not only enjoyed writing this series, but spent more time on it than any other in my list to-date. The comments on it definitely made this one worth it, as so many of you sounded off with opinions one way or the other about my characters.
So scores don't mean everything, however they are nice to see as a reward for my effort.
Second point, the way things are scored. Several people pointed out that the scoring seemed skewed for my series "Castaway." One commenter even went as far to say that with so many negative comments, there had to be people scoring with 5 stars multiple times.
I both agree and disagree.
Let's go over some statistics. Castaway chapter 3 (as of 12/26/16), for example, has had a total of 85 comments on it. That in and of itself amazes me, and I am happier for it. That was a huge response to my story. I read them all, and probably about half were negative about my characters and/or plot.
For perspective, that chapter has had 35,787 views since I released it on 6/21/16. It received over 1090 votes on it, the most voted on story of the entire series. Chapter 1 only had 951 votes but had nearly 61,280 views since 6/5/16.
Why do I list all of this?
From my point of view, the views count almost as much as the score. Even if it was a total flop, the story had been viewed over 60k times! Chapter 3 had over 35k views as well. That is a lot of people looking at it, even if there were several re-reads. I must have done something right to make people want to re-read it again.
Also, let's say Chapter 3 of Castaway was as unpopular as some of the commenters stated, that still only accounted for roughly half of the population of people willing to comment. I know as a reader, I have gone through a story that had some issues but at the end I was satisfied, and scored a 4 or 5 without leaving a comment. I expect this has happened to me many times on my tales. Why leave a comment if someone has either already spoken what you wanted to say, or you simply enjoyed it enough to move on?
Lastly, I know that a lot of people think that the scoring system in general is unfair. I am on the fence on this one. The Literotica moderators have a tough job, no doubt. They not only have to review new content daily, to make sure that they aren't opening themselves up for lawsuits, but also have to make sure that the system and stories are not being scored incorrectly.
I will not rehash the system they use. There was another GREAT post (probably several actually) done about how the scoring system works, and how they tend to "prune" off some votes depending on the irregularity of some stories.
What I will say is that I both agree with this approach and disagree. I know that some readers feel that they were cheated, or that the story left them just unfulfilled at the end. They score it a 1 and comment something like:
"This chapter was horrible. It read like cardboard, and the dialog was terrible."
In this case, the 1 star is warranted and I feel it should stay. As the writer I am not happy to get that score or comment, but obviously the desired effect of entertainment was NOT achieved. So why should I get a higher vote?
If, however, a reader skims to the end, clicks 1 star and comments something like:
"Weak ass cuck shit, writer should just commit suicide,"
I not only take offense to that statement, but feel that the reader didn't truly read the story. The comment is vague at best, and also mostly just says they are angry. The commenter lashes out at someone that they probably will never meet, and doesn't provide a reason or thought about what made the story such a bad experience for them. This seems to be a troll to me, nothing more.
In this case, I have no problem with the moderators finding that 1 star vote and pruning it. That reader, the comment, and vote, did nothing to rate the story for others to view. Also, in this case I would likely delete the comment. I don't delete many, but when someone posts something useless, and talks about how I should die or crawl in a hole and hide, I tend to think that adds ZERO meaning to the discussion.
I know it's not the readers' job to make me a better author. I do ask for constructive comments so that I might hone my craft, but it's not a requirement. I have received a lot of personal contact feedback outside of story comments, and to those that have sent them to me, I give you a heartfelt thanks! Those feedback emails tell me that not only did my writing at least spark an interest in someone out there, but also that it was enough for them to take the time to write back about it, positive or negative.
In closing, I guess what I really want to say is that this is just a hobby for me, nothing more. Just like most of you, I have a day job doing something completely different. If the rest of the stories that I submit only rate at ~3.5, I will be happy with it. Like most authors, I would love if they all were higher than 4.5 to get the red "H", but oh well.
I know that most of my stories, especially in the LW category, are long winded. I will not apologize for describing my settings and characters in detail. My stories include a lot of extra minutiae that might seem to be a waste, but let's face it, I am not Harddaysknight. That man truly has a gift with saying SO much in so few words. My style is to really spell out what is going on, and show you the surroundings. When I include a detail like what kind of creamer the main protagonist is pouring into his coffee, it's not meant as a distraction. It's meant to show that, yes, he is still doing something very ordinary that a lot of us do.
(With my level of detail)
I got up from the table, put the K-Cup into the brewing machine, and started the cycle. As it made its frothy bubbling noise, I contemplated the reason that my soon to be ex-wife sat silent. When it was done brewing, I added my caramel creamer to it, stirred and sat back down at the table.
(With minimal detail, lacking in my humble opinion)
I got up, brewed a cup of coffee, and contemplated why my soon to be ex-wife was silent. When it was done, I sat back down.
Granted, that detail doesn't have anything to do with the plot, but my goal is to make the reader feel like they are at least a part of the scene, and that these other created humans are real. For those that do not like that level of detail, or find it too much, I am sorry. I do warn readers when my stories are going to be long winded for a reason, with the hope that they see that and at least understand that I know it's not a flash tale, and that it was never meant to be.
I appreciate everyone commenting, reading and voting on my stories. I would love it if I could someday turn this hobby into a real job, or at least make some real money from it. I won't be holding my breath for that though, so don't get your hopes up that I will pass out or die from lack of oxygen.
Anyhow, I hope that I have imparted some of what I feel about being an author onto some readers, as well as any aspiring authors that have yet to release that first idea. Regardless of the outcome, trust me, it's worth it to me.
As always, comment and vote on this as you feel necessary. If you feel this was drivel too, just skip commenting and move on. Your time is much better spent reading the next piece of work anyhow.