I’m feeling a bit of a creative void. It’s not writer’s block, it’s more of a listlessness. A non-desire to write, create, produce.
I got a really bad review of a chapter of Twenty-Five a couple of weeks ago. The reader said the characters were cookie cutter, the sentence structure monotonous, and the dialogue cliche. They said “there’s no story here.”
Of course, reading a review like that is like diving head first into freezing cold water. It’s a shock to the system. You wonder- did this person read my work and actually think that? or were they just being mean and spiteful? I have to believe that it’s a little bit of a mixture of the two extremes.
I know, deep in my heart, that my characters are not cookie cutter. They have histories, dreams, plans for the future. I know what they look like, how they act, their likes and dislikes. I’ve thought them through completely and I didn’t just base them on the archetypal characters you see in book after book, story after story. However, I can understand how, in an isolated chapter, without the buildup of the beginning of the story and their relationship, a reader would miss their complexity and depth.
With the monotonous sentence structure comment, I think the reader may have a point. I’ve been reading through my book slowly the last couple of nights and I think I do have issues with varying sentence structure. There just aren’t that many ways to structure a series of actions without getting into lavish descriptions and similes and metaphors, which I hate. So, one of my goals is to find fresher ways of saying what I want to say.
As far as the dialogue being cliche, I have to say- WHOA. I am really surprised anyone would say that about my dialogue because if there’s one thing that 99.99% of my readers have agreed on, it’s my realistic dialogue. I can only assume that this is another instance of the isolated chapter, but will defend myself a little in saying that real people in real life use cliches when they talk. Cliches are around for a reason- they are recognizable, memorable. Just about everything we say in everyday life can be considered cliche. For example, if I write this exchange:
“Hey, how are you?”
is the cliche police going to strike it down and tell me I can’t use it?
The last comment is the one that really hurt. “There’s no story here.” I’ve put my blood, sweat, and tears into this book for the past year (and yes, I realize blood, sweat, and tears is cliche, too) and for someone to tell me there’s no story there, I mean, I can’t even express how much that hurts. I know its not the first bad review that I’ve gotten, and I know it won’t be the last, but DAMN! I would never tell someone that there was no “story” in their story. Because anyone who writes has a story they are trying to tell. And yes, some stories need more work than others, but everything is a story. Life is a story.
So all of that to say that it’s been really hard for me to write lately. I don’t want to be a failure and yet that’s how a review like that makes me feel. Everyone says, “you’ve got to have a thick skin to make it in this industry.” But isn’t that true of any industry, of any career? Is that why I’m still stuck in limbo, I don’t have a thick enough skin? Am I going to be a failure for the rest of my life? Am I going to be stuck in the void for the rest of my life?