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Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Beauty of Fiction: A Response to Criticism.

Remember when I talked about peaches and criticism?

Well, I saw my first negative review.  And since I'm writing this post, I think we can all agree that I'm not quite as far along with the whole being okay with negative feedback as I would like to be.  But, the reason this person hated my book was because it wasn't realistic enough.

And you know what?  I'm not upset about that.

Fiction is beautiful because it allows you to escape to a place where everything isn't exactly as it is in your current life.  When you read a fiction book, you're able to escape from where you are without ever leaving your couch.  And that's pretty spectacular.

Reality has a place in fiction, absolutely.  But the precise amount of reality that belongs in any given story?  I don't think that amount exists.  And truthfully, I don't think I want it to exist.

I love getting lost in a story.  And more times than not, it's a fiction book that I get lost in.  Okay, all the time.  I'm not educational enough to get lost in reading non-fiction.  And do you know why it's easy to get lost in reading fiction?  Because you know it's not true.  And somehow, by knowing that, you give yourself permission to get lost in it, and maybe even believe in it.

The book that I wrote may not be is not one-hundred percent realistic.  And I like it that way.  That is why I love fiction, and that is why I wrote fiction.

While I was writing my novel, I had the chance to speak to an accomplished novelist that I really admired.  I asked her what her biggest advice for writing a book was, and she responded, "Read.  A lot.  And then write something that you would want to read."  Such simple advice, but it struck me as genius.  I love reading fiction, I love reading YA fiction, and I love reading YA fiction that I can get lost in without it being so realistic that I stop and fact-check the story.  So that's what I wrote.

Sure, I could write a story about a girl who drools on her pillow and who wakes up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom because she drank too much water before bed.  I could include every time she washes her clothes or changes the sheets.  I could write about a girl who doesn't go to dinner with a guy she just met, because that's not very realistic.  Yeah, I could write a book like that.

But it wouldn't be a book I would want to read.

With contemporary YA fiction, I think there's a line between reality and the magical mystery of fate that you need to land just a little on either side of.  It's different for every book, but I'm proud of how I landed on that line.  I'm proud of the balance of my story.

Because it's one I would want to read.

Do you read fiction?  Do you prefer it to be more realistic or more fictitious? 

18 comments:

  1. I'm struggling with that in my novel. Do I want it to be "real" or like some fairy tale story and the thing is people like happy endings so I'm probably going to go with that. What "really" happens is sometimes not what people want to read. I think I like both and I think there is a place for both.

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  2. love me some fiction. i am fine either way with the realism though. i just want to connect. and gosh isn't it often just simply about the writing style that can just suck you in? when it's bad i just disconnect and leave a book (as much as it pains me)

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  3. As someone who loved your book, I think it was very believable. Everyone's idea of "fiction" is different. Anything can happen. Who is to say Avery's fiction is fiction? We read fiction to encourage us to believe in hopeful ideas and a hopeful life.

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  4. I don't think anyone can ever be 100% okay with negative criticism. I don't think the beauty is in the "being okay with it" but more the "handling it gracefully even if you're not okay with it" because we are all entitled to our feelings and you need to honor what you are feeling. Great post lovely!

    Also I nominated you for a Liebster award HERE. You don't have to do it if you don't want to, but know you are beloved! ♥

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  5. Honestly I would have a hard time reading fiction that was completely realistic! Where is the fun in that? You know?

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  6. I think anyone should write about whatever the hell they want to write =) So just ignore that nonsense=)

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  7. Sometimes I'm in too realistic a mindset to handle the imaginative license fiction writers take and then sometimes that's all I want to read precisely because it doesn't exactly mirror real life.

    Write a book you want to read. <-- Genius advice.

    I think if you've written a book you would want to read, a book that captures the magic of life the way you want to see it, you should be proud of yourself. Because isn't that the point as a writer, particularly of fiction? Isn't the point of our constant scribbling that we reveal the world as we see it - or as we see it could be in the right circumstances? That's what I think, and that's why the fiction I like to read and even the small bits of fiction I write are not one hundred percent accurate to hard, cold reality.

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  8. It's fiction- what did the reader expect? Even memoirs don't usually include all the day to day reality. Stay true to your voice!

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  9. That's why writing is so great. It's your own little world & it doesn't have to be 'real.' :] // itsCarmen.com ☼

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  10. I'm glad you're standing by your book even with a negative review. How silly that they expected it to be realistic. It's called fiction for a reason. :-)

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  11. Um, it's not like Divergent and the Hunger Games were realistic, so what the heck? I think there will always be THOSE PEOPLE that find fault in the little things. I also wonder why anyone would go write a bad review about a book? Writing is so subjective and not everyone will like it. Go you for writing a brilliant response;)

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  12. Great response. I love the advice "write what you would want to read". Sometimes I have doubts writing my novel, because it isn't like other books I have read (for one reason or another). But I try to remember that I am writing the book I WISH existed. And that makes it way more fun! You aren't going to please everyone. But, you weren't writing your book to please everyone, so you are okay. :) The fact of the matter remains: you wrote a BOOK!!!

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  13. I agree the beauty in fiction is that it takes us into a world different from the one we experience daily but similar enough that we can still relate to the characters.

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  14. Hey, my first book just came out this week and I got my first super negative review too. And it sucks! We like to think that as writers we are thick-skinned and able to take it, but it still hurts when someone reads something that we put our hopes, dreams, souls into, and they dismiss it. So I am totally feeling what you're feeling. But then just remember: you wrote a book! And you were brave enough to put it out in the world. That counts for a lot!

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  15. Of course I want it relatable in some sense, but I still want to hope for something, something that I don't have so that I can be in my calm Me Time, wondering what I want for myself in terms of expectations!

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  16. Sometimes you just have to take the positive of the negative! It probably wasn't realistic to them because they couldn't relate to it--probably...

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  17. Great write-up! Writing is a talent, and it must not be wasted. As with everything that we had been entrusted, we should

    let it grow and share it with the world.> self

    improvement tips

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  18. My favorite fiction novels are the ones that have characters who are relatable. Who have problems and flaws, make mistakes, but still are themselves. I definitely like when things are realistic, but real life isn't always fun, and sometimes to make a story work you have to bend the rules a bit. I'm definitely going to check out your book! :)

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