After I agreed to do a guest post for my friend Melinda Collins, she suggested I write something about worldbuilding. Despite being a paranormal author who continually invents worlds slightly different from our own, I haven’t written many posts about that topic yet, so I sat down to brainstorm ideas.
Okay, my beta readers have said good things about my worldbuilding, and an editor gushed about it, so I must be able to build worlds for my stories. But short of saying, “Let it grow organically” and “Don’t info dump,” I didn’t think I had much advice to share.
However, I’ve also run into problems with some readers expecting a completely different story from the one I wrote, and talking about what I learned from that experience sounds more interesting. (Yes, it’s easier for me to write about my failures than my successes. Er, yeah… Let’s not analyze what that says about me too closely, okay?)
Recently, I received some odd feedback on one of my stories. The reading group was disappointed with the focus of the story. This wasn’t a minor deal. Their suggestions to line up the story with their expectations would have changed the world my characters lived in and the entire premise.
That wasn’t the story I wanted to tell, and that wasn’t the reality of the story world. So I made the changes that did make sense for the story and tried to figure out where the disconnect had occurred. And the problem started with me.
Just as with everything else in writing, the reader can only interpret what we tell them. And I’d unintentionally given those readers a description for the story that implied a different tone from the reality. As usual, the feedback had something to teach me if I was willing to listen. *smile*
So I’m heading over to Melinda’s blog today to share some tips on how to give readers an accurate impression of what to expect from our stories by using the correct genre labels and worldbuilding details. Those of us who mix genres need to be especially careful about the labels we use. I’ll also share how, after a re-read of that story, I decided on a way to describe it that will hopefully prevent future disconnects. Please join me over there!
Have you ever had readers misinterpret or be disappointed by a story because of its description? Have you ever received feedback that seemed to belong to a different story? How did you handle it? Were you able to find a solution?