• Karen Bayly

It's okay to see things differently

I frequent several short story websites where readers vote for a story. It's been an interesting exercise. The stories I find different and exciting are regularly voted down by other readers. The stories I think are boring or poorly written are often the most popular. It’s the same with reading novels and novelettes. Many books that other people love to read get a resounding ‘meh’ from me.

This is nothing new, I suppose. I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum. However, in this online world, gathering hundreds of followers is regarded as a benchmark of success. Publishers, literary agents, and writing collaborators look at your online profile to decide if they’d like to work with you.

Even fans of genre have specific and often rigid ideas about what is “correct” for science fiction, or fantasy, or horror. I'm not denying there aren't rules for these genres. What I am saying is that much of what folks quote as “rules” are little more than opinion.

This poses a dilemma. Do I apply all rules, no matter how arbitrary? Or do I tell the story the way it needs to be told? Do I write a story that excites me, or one that will be popular?

There is always a middle ground, albeit one that is difficult to navigate. Yet, ultimately, there’s nothing wrong with being different. It may not make you one of the cool kids, but you will be true to yourself.


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