This week: Fan Groups on FacebookEdited by: ~Minja~
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"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one." – George R.R. Martin
"Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary." – Jim Rohn
"I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book." – Groucho Marx
"Think before you speak. Read before you think." – Fran Lebowitz
"The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest (people) of the past centuries." – Descartes
"Reading brings us unknown friends." – Honoré de Balzac
Facebook as a social network can be intimidating and cruel to its members but it can also be rewarding if you use it properly. With 2.41 billion active users it's probably one of the best marketing tools, whether you are building the new brand or broadening the existing one.
My own friends' list is built of people who I know personally (friends and family), people who I worked with at some point in life, and a very few people who I met here on Writing.Com and whose posts I rarely see thanks to the Facebook algorithm. I guess you can say my newsfeed is full of baby pictures, random quotes, YouTube videos, funny gifs, 'send this or you'll die' letters—nothing quite exciting and educational. My presence on Facebook dropped a few years ago and I never really got into it later. I ended up deleting irrelevant people, unfollowed newsfeed spammers and generally stopped logging in every day for more than 5 minutes. And then I discovered some cool websites that shared their articles there and books discussions groups. To say that my social network presence was on the high level would be a lie but let's say it improved a little bit. I slowly began to learn the benefits of Facebook discussion groups. As a writer and a reader, I truly believe that constructive criticism from fandom is one of the best ways to bake a writing craft because no one quite criticizes writing like people who are obsessed with a certain novel/book series.
A few years ago my reading interest in historical dramas increased and, as a result, I joined two discussion groups on Facebook in order to connect with readers who have the same interest as me. Did we have the same interest? Yes, we did. But, did we have the same or even similar opinion about certain details from the books? We definitely didn't. Many people would turn away and leave right away, as soon as someone hurt their personal views. To me, being able to discuss the same thing from more than a few points of view is simply amazing. We are all so different in our likes and dislikes but if we aren't then there would be nothing to learn, don't you think?
With my wobbly presence in two historical dramas discussion groups—and overall on Facebook—here are a few things I learned about the readers' habits, likes, dislikes, preferences that I consider beneficial for any writer out there:
We knew this already but let's mention it again. A writer of historical drama needs to be able to write descriptive and captivating sex scenes involving the main characters. This means you have to learn how to show sensuality, the connection between people who are engaging in this act without sounding unrealistic or going off board with sexual content (unless you're specifically writing erotica). It's very easy to fail in writing sex scenes in your novel because of two reasons. The first reason is that you are very shy and every thought about sex makes you blush, not to mention what writing about it makes you feel, so you go through these as faster as you can because you just want to be done with it. The second reason is that you're a very sexual person in private and you think other people won't mind if you go into details. The key to success is to find a balance between those two.
Female readers will never be interested in the politics
Okay, maybe this isn't entirely true because I for one am interested in the political aspect of the novel series I'm currently reading. But, in a discussion group, I've read so many female readers saying how they skip the entire book chapters and paragraphs because they didn't want/need to know about the mining business in the 18th century and they only read parts where there is no business talk. This probably depends on the writer although I do find Winston Graham—whose books I'm currently reading— to be decent and quite interesting.
Side antagonist is always a bad person
If you watched 'Game of Thrones' and followed Theon Greyjoy's character arc, you will realize it is among the best-written arcs in the history of television simply because Theon showed us that we are capable to have love and hate relationship with one person. Usually, we like protagonists and dislike antagonists—this is some kind of natural order—but to make readers feel love for antagonist takes some serious talent.
Recently, I tried to defend the antagonist's intentions which were really harmless in my opinion and I was being hit by a hate wave. What happened is that a young lieutenant fell in love with the main character and persuaded her by writing poetry and exclaiming his undying love until she finally didn't give in and spent the night with him. What was wrong in this relationship is that the main character was a married woman, a proven individual and someone who is a role model for its strength and smartness who never, ever did anything wrong to anyone but was being hurt by other people and her own husband as well. My argument that even though she is quite a realistic character, in a realistic setting, a writer needed to put her through a difficult decision in order to show that even the heroes are not perfect, even heroes have their moments that define who they are. Plus, his feelings toward her were true and it was just the wrong time for them to be together. He truly loved her. However, he remained a bad person to this day to the majority of the fandom because he dared to seduce a married woman which is apparently a huge NO in the society we live in, and a woman who belonged to his friend. When he died soon after they spent the night together, the majority of fandom said they are glad he's dead.
The historical accuracy has to match
If you are writing a historical drama inspired by some real events and dates in history then you have to get it right. Trust me, even people who are not familiar with history will come and say something like: Battle of Hastings was fought in October 1066 but the background of the battle started in January when King Edward the Confessor died. Readers are extremely sensitive about the accuracy of events that take place in your novel, especially readers who read the same book series more than once. They will find mistakes in your writing better than your editor.
Fan theories are sometimes better than the books'
One of the best free things a writer can get from its readers is a good and thought-provoking fan theory. Picture yourself as a famous writer experiencing writer's block heavily. Group discussions often have threads that start with 'what if?' question. This kind of question is often related to some conflict between the characters or events that took the place in a book. And even though a writer can't fully benefit from the questions itself (what if this happened instead of that, what if he said this instead of that), the commitment to the explanation in the comment section is a thought-provoking most of the time. Often times people rise above the simple explanation and develop their own theories based on the available information. For someone experiencing the writer's block fan theories can be a solid ground, a starting point, and support.
Easter eggs and a random prophecy catch reader's attention even if they are well hidden
Readers like easter eggs and if they find those in a book it means that they read with full attention. If a writer threw a hint about the main character's destiny in the books through inessential encounter, it probably won't be visible at first reading but once discovered will create a great deal out of the entire story. So, if you're planning to drop hints but want to stay mysterious about it know that sooner or later your secret intentions will be revealed. This could be an exciting time unless you didn't plan to have it all revealed before its time.
This is just a handful of things I learned about the readers through Facebook discussion groups but there are so many layers that couldn't fit in this newsletter. You'd have to join some groups in order to find out. One last and the most important lesson I learned about the readers is that you will never be able to please everyone so don't even try to. But, if you manage to please at least half of your fans I'd say you did an amazing job.
Until next time, be open-minded
Excerpt: “Sit, my dear. I think you should sit.” He turned to his son who was kicking off his boots in the doorway. “You too, son. You too.”
“What’s with the solemn face, Charlie? You’re scaring me. What have you done? You haven’t shot one of those poachers that have been taunting you so, have you?” Her face darkened, and she tilted her head to one side.
“No, I haven’t, Lizzie. I’m not that stupid, am I?” No sooner had the words left his mouth, than he thought, But I am. I’m worse.
Excerpt: Had she lived a sheltered life? Perhaps. Had her parents done all they could to protect her from the harsh realities of the Negro? Perhaps. However, she wasn’t blind or deaf as listening into conversations by other classmates or watching the news, forced her to recognize the growing discrepancy between the plight of Colored People and the privileges of White America.
She knew all about Martin Luther King and his efforts for equality and admired him greatly for that. Malcolm X…she hadn’t been so sure about. He had been a part of that fearful group – the Nation of Islam – and though he eventually defected, she always felt him too radical and “out there” with his quest for Black Empowerment.
Excerpt: Filestron was a noted mystic and alchemist of Athens. He delved into the world of the unseen, and was thought to be both necromancer and sorcerer. He was often consulted by kings for his understanding of the spirit world, and was even thought to be an advisor to Leonidas of Sparta. It was his counsel that tipped the balance in the mind of Leonidas that took the Spartans to hold Xerxes at Thermopylae. While Leonidas and his force was defeated, the time they held Xerxes allowed others to prepare more fully to counter the threat of the Persian forces.
Excerpt: Wichita of 1871 was booming. After a few questions, we found the land office tucked between a saddlery, and a gunsmith. While it was still light, the office was closed. "What do you want?" I asked. "Bed or sleep outside of town."
"Since neither of us has been paid since we left Riley, it'll have to be outside of town."
I nodded. "Since we've just been eating beans and peaches, we have a lot of our travel allowance left. Should we splurge?"
Josh laughed. "Share a bed?"
I shook my head, laughing. "You snore."
Another laugh. "So do you. Enough for a good meal - real bread, and steak or stew?"
I nodded. "There's enough. Could mean beans and peaches until we get to Scott."
He raised his eyebrows. "If we get to Scott."
Excerpt: Should my end come on this field
in final thoughts, my love revealed
by simple words in pen and ink,
an echo from darkness's brink.
Excerpt: C. E. Biddison was engineering a westbound, fast freight known as No. 97. It was composed of 18 cars, and left Phillipsburg, KS about 12:15 PM1. The crew consisted of Engineer Biddison, Fireman Brinker, with Conductor A. Ratcliff and Brakeman Earl Thorson and B. M. Tucker.
After the train took on water in Clayton, it proceeded on its way. About two miles west of the station and about five miles east of Jennings, the train encountered a washout.
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Glynis Jolly wrote: I love Jane Austen's style of writing. Her ability to show the personalities of her characters is superb.
Yes, Jane Austen indeed had a unique approach to characterization.
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