While writing my novel for Camp NaNoWriMo today, I was struck by a sudden thought. You might call it insecurity.
So I googled a particular term, trying to find out what kind of audience would actually care about an ‘angst’ story. I voice one thing the wrong way, and suddenly I felt like my audience would be limited.
Instead, I stumble into TV Tropes. Damn that site’s addictive.
Original insecurities soon dispelled, I realise that there is all this other world surrounding what I’ve only known as Angst in the sphere of how fanfiction defines it, and I look around, trying to learn more, worried instead that what I’m writing will just be one of those badly written things.
I really wonder what my novel would be just on its own. Maybe everyone should write that way, with no preconceptions, and just let it all speak for itself.
Then again, upon further reflection, here’s the real problem: what I’m really unsure about is the fact that the story I’m writing at the moment has limited appeal across gender (I don’t wanna be one-sided like Water For Elephants or Tin Tin), but also because, no matter what angst-ridden things I try to throw in – eating disorders, sexual assault, abusive father – it still feels a bit flat to me.
Is that something that comes with a first draft? Does fleshing a story out fix that feeling? Or is my story still missing something? My mind keeps coming back to the latter conclusion.
When I really think about it, what I’m worried about is not writing for wide audience. Shakespeare’s writing was loved widely, and he’s history’s greatest writer. I don’t want to be mediocre.
But more than that, I feel like males would be turned off by the kind of story it is. It’s not like the first book I’m still writing, which was a mix of drama and thriller. It’s just drama. Men don’t like drama.
From what I’ve read, men aren’t interested so much in personal relationships or whatnot, whereas I see that as the most important part. I characterise Plot-driven novels as male and Character-driven novels as female.
Am I just stereotyping? Because I know there is debate about this. I know men’s and women’s brains are physically different, so it’s not as though men and women aren’t different, and don’t think different. It seems I’m just still trying to figure out how men’s brains work.
(Maybe where this big insecurity came from. It figures.)
And yet, I have just considered another comparison that would probably be the closest one yet to what I’m writing. A while ago, I read a book called Lullabies for Little Criminals, and I loved it. I think this book is like that.
So I went looking for what kind of audience it got, and I found this review by ‘The Author’, a male blogger who loved it. Hope restored.
Now all I’ve gotta do is write it well.
Yes, I understand that gender can and does have blurred lines in people. For example, my dad enjoys Jane Austen.
But maybe the problem was that I wasn’t thinking in terms of individuals, I was thinking about generalised traits in men and women that I’d read about:
For example, Women are more emotional thinkers; men are more logical.
Either way, people are complicated, and gender is just one side to them. I think what I should really take away from this is don’t underestimate people.