At the time I wrote this post, there were currently 1500 little words staring back at me waiting to finish a short story I started for a magazine. The big finish somehow always has me procrastinating. I think about it while I clean my office, organize my computer folders and do everything else but sit down and try to finish that last scene.
I'm a procrastinator, I admit it. Especially when I get down to the home stretch and I can see my characters racing toward that resolution. I start to sit back and ponder it while apart of me just wants to finish the thing already!
It got me thinking about how strange and unpredictable the writing process is overall and how much it resembles another interesting profession.
When I was younger, I wrote screenplays to get a handle on the structure of plotting and telling a whole story. In the end no matter how much a story was penned, a screenplay was just a blueprint for the producer, director and actors to go off of. For actors, they have to embody the role and bring it to life. While actors had that one to focus on, writers have many and in a way have to "act" and be in the heads of each and every character that comes on screen. Now, acting is probably much more strenuous and I'm sure tons of writings would shudder in horror at the thought of going in front of a crowd and bring their characters to life physically, but I couldn't help noticing how close the two are.
The relationship between an audience and the actor is one of emotion, empathy, a suspension of disbelief and a little bit of suspense itself. When I hear someone say "the acting wasn't good" I imagine they mean "the actress didn't sell to me that she was that character". The viewer was not emotionally involved in the story.
Same thing with writing. A reader may not like a story because of some elements they're tired of or offended by but if they are "meh, it was okay" they were not emotionally invested in the work.
Sometimes it's hard to gauge that beforehand but a good character arc that changes and improves upon the character throughout the book can help the audience root for them to obtain their goal. A great hold on story structure (plot, conflict, rising action, resolution, etc.) will help keep the story tight so the reader doesn't keep checking her time every other page.
Sadly, you lose some even with these elements above and that's okay. Some readers just don't connect for various reasons that have nothing to do with the writing itself but for how they feel about the story that is told. That's okay. Not everyone the world loves all actors or their style. Like actors, we learn from what went wrong, pick up and do our best (or better) next time. Some actors say they don't pay attention to reviews. They just focus on the craft. Perhaps in the case of writers, we could do the same and focus on the feedback of readers (if it applies) and our gut for how to challenge our writing for next time.