When Even Friends and Family Won’t Read

I was going to write a post about beta reading, but I figured, what’s the fun in writing something I’ve never had experience with (but hopefully will soon.) So, I’ll start with a story. 

I wrote a lot when I was in my last two years of high school. We moved to a different state where I went to a small school and had no friends–a big difference from where I came from, where I spent the fall and spring on the varsity crew team and summers at the mall with friends. I had nothing to do, so I wrote, and it took me out of the world I was living in and brought me to where I desperately wanted to be: someplace else. 

Back then, I did have people I was close to that read my work. My dad read a few chapters of my first ever completed book, Living Brighter, and so did one of my friends from back home. But over time, no one else felt like reading. In fall of 2012, I finished Euphoria, my least popular book. My sister asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I said, “All I want is for you to read Euphoria.” The story was about 80 pages long at the time, and being a fast reader, I figured it wouldn’t take her more than a few hours. Christmas morning, to my disappointment, I was given a Spongebob DVD. 

Two weeks ago, my mom had surgery and couldn’t leave the house. She told me before I left for work, “What am I going to do all day?” 

“Read Saving Flight 926. I need feedback before doing the rewrite,” I said. “You know how to get on my Wattpad.” 

Nine hours later when I returned home, she had not even gone through Wattpad, and was instead playing Cookie Jam. And don’t even get me started on how much I have to beg my boyfriend to click through a chapter. 

At the end of the day, I mostly feel disappointed. All I think is, “Is my writing that awful?” These are the people who encourage me constantly. Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense. But then I realized that there are probably a million other fellow writers who are having the same problem. 

So, what do you do if no one wants to read? Here’s what I learned. 

1. Don’t Beg

Begging can lead to people being forced to read if they don’t want to, and the classic, “I’ll check it out right now.” While you sit there awkwardly and wait for them to finish (which has happened to me way too many times.) 

2. Try to Understand

Maybe my mom just wanted to play Cookie Jam instead. Maybe your friend and relatives are actually busy. Or, try putting yourself in their shoes. Personally if it was me I’d be reading my friends’ things like I always do, BUT maybe they just don’t want to. I mean, everyone has things they don’t want to do. 

3. Come to Terms With It

While it does feel upsetting and insulting, I’ve come to terms with the fact that some people may just not want to read your stuff. Why would my boyfriend want to read a gooey romance? Or why would my sister want to read fantasy when she loves horror? And you know what? If they don’t want to read it, that’s OKAY. As authors, we know that tons of people won’t like our work, and our friend and family are just a handful. 

4. Don’t Let it Stop You

Long story short, don’t let anything stop you from going after your writing dreams. 

It really stinks when people we’re close to won’t read the work we’ve put so much time into. While it may be hard to understand why, it is possible. 

There, Their, They’re, and the Teens that Can’t use Them 

Sometimes I really hate writing angry posts, but I’ll try and stay calm as I explain this very simple situation: 

There: (adverb) meaning to or into a place. 

Ex. “Look over there.” “I left the plate of cookies right there.” 

Their: (adjective) meaning to relate to or belong to a person or animal. 

Ex. “Those cookies are theirs.” “The girl in the pink dress is their daughter.” 

They’re: meaning they are. 

Ex. “They’re going to the park.” “They’re going to their house over there.” 

It saddens me that I would even need to write a post about something as simple as this. Unless of course, younger children are reading this for some reason. 

To this day I remember the exact lesson in my third grade classroom, knowing the difference between their, there, and they’re. So I’m still wondering, just like I talked about in my post a few months back about capitalizing “I” and using periods at the end of sentences, what on earth is wrong with our school system? 

Today I had a fellow Wattpadder who was looking to have her story beta read, you know, that thing you do after you edit your story a bunch of times and want to have it read over by a group of people to make changes before you send it to publishers–in the first chapter there was the wrong use of there…multiple times. 

What the heck is wrong with our school system that teenagers don’t know the difference between the three theres? High school kids! It just unbelievable. So my final message is this: let’s fix our school system (or at least try to pay attention in class, because personally I find it hard to believe that kids aren’t being taught somthing this important), or at least read the beginning of this post so you know the difference. 

Repetitive Names Part 2: Twinning It

We’ve all seen the stories of teens who were separated at birth or an extremely young age and meet up later in life. How can us 90s kids ever forget “The Parent Trap” or “Sister Sister”?  

Some young authors have taken the meeting up of twins to a new extreme. Not only do they look alike, but they have the same names too! Now, I can understand if it’s two girls with the name Emily or Ashley. Or even two guys named Chris, Mat, Mike, etc. But these authors are having twins with insane names Ambrosio, Serafina, Pheonix, ect meet up. 

One author had two sets of twins. Two boys named Antonio and two girls named Roma. Antonio…eh, it’s getting more common. But Roma? According to polls it’s very uncommon in the US. 

I mean, how much of a concidence is it that not only will two twins be separated at birth AND not only have the same name, but both have an extremely common name? 

Not to mention that it’s just plain old confusing! Two twins with the same name? The only way I could imagine narrating this story is with one twin having first person POV and then using a different name for the other one. 

So, here’s how to win with long lost twins. Just use similar names (I have an identical Maya and Maxi in one of my stories). It’s already interesting enough that they met up. It doesn’t pay to confuse the reader. 

Repetitive Names in Writing Part 1

My mind has been blank for the past few weeks trying to think of new posts. So, here’s one. 

Repeating names: I’ve seen them all the time. You know, when an author has a main character named Joey but there is also another Joey somewhere in the book. One of the kids I’m editing for now is doing this in her book, with many characters having the same name, such as the main character’s little brother, and her other love interest. 

So, how do we make it so when you mention Joey making a kissy face, you know the difference between a lover and little brother? Simple: do it tastefully. 

There are easy ways to tell characters apart. Ex. Blue-eyed Joey stomped is feet. Green-eyed Joey just stood there. Including a feature of appearance is one way. John Green in his novel An Abundance of Katherines had two Collins in his book, the main character and a side character who was referred to as TOC or “The Other Collin”. 

Of course, in my opinion, the best way to avoid using repeated names is to basically, have characters with different names. But what fun is a story without a little confusion mixed into it? 

Can Sequels Always Happen? 

I’ve faced the issue frequently of my readers requesting sequels for my stories, especially for my romance and orca stories. However, this is a problem, since both stories are clearly over. 

But then again, is there a way to maneuver something to make another continuation of it after the plot has ended? Just ask the producers of Toy Story 4. Then again, this isn’t Toy Story. 

So as authors, we face the conflict: do we continue writing to please fans, or do we stick with our hearts and leave a story untouched? I’d say the answer is obviously the second. 

While it is our job to please readers, can we live with ourselves for tainting a character’s story? Besides, sequels tend to have a reputation for never being as good as the first book anyway. 

Point of this post: never be persuaded into a sequel that you don’t have your heart in! Ultimately, you are in control of your character’s fate, not your readers. 

Your Gender-Neutral Story

Yesterday I found yet another story on Wattpad where a strait girl and strait guy were living in the same dorm room, sleeping a few feet away from each other. Of course, they didn’t know each other and hated each other. 

I’m just going to go right into a numbered list about gender neutral housing. Here are some facts and debunking methods to ensure that your story is accurate and relatable:

1. Yes, two strait students can live in the same room or suite…

This one surprised me after doing some research yesterday. According to Cornell, two students of different genders can share a bedroom. BUT

2. They HAVE to fill out a special aplication 

Not only can students live with a person of the opposite sex, they MUST agree to it by filling out a special application. Only then will they be in gender-neutral housing. 

3. AND they have to know each other! 

The colleges I researched had special selection processes where after student fill out their special aplication, they have to select their roommates BEFORE they select their room. 

4. Open room change does exist, too

One issue I’ve noticed a lot is the line, “How will they survive living together for an entire year?” Well, they won’t, because open room change happens 3 times a year and they could switch out if it was that bad. 

5. And so do waitlists 

If open room change doesn’t work out, many colleges offer waitlists into other dorms. With people dropping/moving off campus/getting kicked out, there will always be SOMEWHERE else to go at some point. My suitemate was on a wait list and moved into my room at the end of November. 

My First Solution: The Off Campus, 2 Bedroom Apartment

This solution is not only more realistic, but can keep the two in one place where they literally can’t move out, mainly if they’re stuck in a year lease. In fact, they’ll spend even MORE time together, since they’ll be doing all of their cooking and studying there, instead of leaving said dorm room to go to the cafeteria or library. 

Create this situation by having one person already in the apartment, their roommate bailing, leaving them desperate for a roommate in order to pay rent; having the other move in since they applied late and don’t have a room on campus. 

Second Solution: the Live-in Boyfriend/Girlfriend

College students do this ALL the time. Two of my friends have a roommate and suitemate with a boyfriend who never leaves, and I lived next door to someone in the same situation last year. 

PLENTY of drama can happen between a roommate and a significant other that is always there. And wait–plot twist! She’s falling for her roommate’s boyfriend, but can’t date him because it’ll ruin their friendship! *gasp* 

Heck, I might even use one of these ideas myself. 

:) Using Emojis :P in Writing D:

I’m sure you must be surprised with that title. I was surprised too, when I started seeing emojis in the text of a story. Yes, this is really happening people. New writers have started putting emojis in their stories. 

The first time I saw this was last year. It looked something like this in the text:

I may be different, but that’s just who I am. 🙂 

Are you scared yet? Because it only gets worse. Lately I’ve been seeing winky faces in stories as well. 

Now of course, who could forget the beloved TTYL series, which involved similar things? Of course, there are exceptions. 

If characters are texting, IMing, emailing, or posting a status, then of course, pile on the emojis if you want. 

But in the actual text of the story? Just no. I’m really hoping that this doesn’t become an “ok” or norm in the writing word. I don’t think I could ever take a story seriously with smiles and winky faces in the middle of a paragraph.