Talking About Tropes is a series where I talk about storytelling tropes and my thoughts on them. I also talk about certain tropes related to my works and why I used them for that specific story. Today, I discuss my fears as a new author.
Talking About Tropes: My Biggest Fears (As An Author)
Today, I figured I’d get personal and talk about what I fear in regards to my works. I’ll give you a personal look into who I am and what I tend to fear as a new writer. I’m sure some are more specific than other people, but it gives you a sense of what I’m like when in regards to my writing.
So to start, this won’t be in any specific order of worst to least fearful. Some are common while others tend to be specific to me. So with that, let’s get started.
Minor Writing Fears
Being a laughingstock
Let’s start with the basic one. One fear is being a laughingstock. I want people to enjoy my work and to be the butt of the industry is something I will never accept. From what I have made, no one seems to think that (as far as my beta readers go), but in terms of the wider audience, I simply want to be at most appreciated, and at worst, accepted. I’m not looking to be the next Stephen King, but I don’t want my series to be Fifty Shades of Grey standards either.
Having an unpleasable fanbase
The second is having a fanbase that isn’t satisfied with anything I do. We’ve seen it all the time in major works. The fanbase complains about everything, no matter what they do. I’m fully accepting in that I can’t please everyone, but I want to be one of those creators that is understanding of what irks my future fanbase and how I can solve it. I’m also not looking for endless praise. I want discussions of my work that don’t devolve into complaining. I want my fanbase to be genuine and caring and if I can’t get that, then I have a problem.
“Notice me, senpai”
Being ignored is another thing. It would suck as a new author if my work goes to waste and I don’t get any commentary on my work. After all, feedback is what keeps me going. I had this same problem when I wrote fanfiction, and I don’t want that to happen again. I want people to enjoy my work and I don’t want to be just another author who has one story.
Having Legends of Eifalia be the only successful work
Speaking of one story, having my novel be the only thing people remember me by. A lot of publishers don’t want one book authors, and I’m doing what I can to make numerous works throughout the years that people enjoy. A flipside of that is that my first book won’t take off. Legends of Eifalia is, to me, a culmination of everything I’ve done and wrote over the years and is something truly unique to me. It’s everything I’ve enjoyed in my childhood and it’s something I’m sure others will enjoy as well.
Someone stealing my work
Another fear is one I’m sure many authors had at one point. The fear of another person stealing my work. To me, I tend to be one of those authors who has an emotional attachment to their characters. They’re more than just designs that I made. They’re a part of who I am and I would never forgive myself if I let one of them slip away. I have found someone stealing a wallpaper I made, so I know the possibility is real, but I still want to make sure that my characters are mine. I don’t mind fan art or fan fiction of my works, but a line has to be drawn somewhere.
I remember one person in a critique group I go to that was super paranoid about his work being shared publicly. While I’m nowhere near as bad, I hope to take precautions and bunker down my work so that it remains mine. After all, I’m sure no one else wants their creations owned by anyone other than themselves.
And finally, the big one. This was the primary reason I made this post and it’s something that if this ever happened to me, then I would just up and quit. It may not seem like a big deal, but it’s a big one that I need to be clear on what I could potentially deal with. So my biggest fear as an author?
Having a corporate executive destroy my work
I’m sure some of you are nodding your heads right about now, but if not, allow me to explain. Imagine you publish a book to critical acclaim. Then, a movie studio (we’ll say 20th Century Fox because they’re notorious for this crap), asks you if they can make an adaptation of your book into a movie. You agree and everything seems normal at first. The production and filming starts and uh-oh, turns out your big plot twist of your main love interest dying? Turns out they want to retcon that and make him live after all so he can marry his beautiful girlfriend. Except this isn’t that kind of a story since your book is a military novel, not a romance. And you have no love interest in sight. But they demand that there be a romantic subplot because that’s what moviegoers want to see.
You agree nonetheless, but wait, this needs to be more epic. How about we turn it into an action movie with stunts and special effects? You tell them, again, that this isn’t that kind of movie, but since you signed a contract, they can do however they please.
And I’d like to point out that I’m not talking about the actual people involved in the film (Directors, writers and even the actors themselves). This is a business executive, head honcho-type person making these decisions. Corporate folk who know nothing about making a film and just want money above all else. And seeing as they know so much about filmmaking, they’re willing to push aside people who actually know how to make a film and declare their word as status quo. After all, it’s their movie, not yours. In fact, when this gets big (but with all of the changes they’ve made, you doubt it), it becomes their property. Because it could be so big that they’re waiting for that opportunity to yank the IP from underneath you and do however they please. All of those years of hard work, gone in a single binding contract that you never signed.
If this sounds too unrealistic, let me give you a real example. There used to be a game by Bethesda (the Elder Scrolls people) called Gridiron! released in the early 80s. It was a primitive football game that was of enough interest to be picked up by a large gaming publisher, EA (AKA, Electronic Arts, AKA one of the worst companies in America). Instead of licensing the game from Bethesda, they took the game itself and repurposed it as a game I’m sure even non-gamers are familiar with. Madden. Yep, the most successful football game of all time was once a Bethesda property. They even tried to sue EA, but it wasn’t enough.
Still not convinced? How about a somewhat recent tale of a sci-fi film, Gravity? While I haven’t seen the film, I heard of this moment and it’s the one thing that stuck with me for a long time. It shows the lengths these corporate Hollywood execs will go to make everything as generic as possible. The execs wanted Gravity to be a generic Hollywood film with explosions and romance. The author fought tooth and nail to get what he wanted and it had a better result in the end.
I won’t tolerate that in my works. I’ll take creative liberties where it’s necessary, but if Hollywood can’t have faith in the people involved, why bother? I know this seems like a rant about Hollywood, but it’s the one thing I fear most of all. It just goes to show how easily executives can ruin a series because of money.
I won’t make a series a mockery just because of a few extra dollars. I’ll go to whatever lengths necessary to make sure people enjoy my work in whatever form it’s in. Whether it’s a game, TV show, movie or even a cartoon, I’ll make it as loyal as possible. After all, that’s what people truly want. Faithful adaptations that present the work in an enjoyable light to the fans who see it.
And the fact that I devoted more time than necessary to that fear just shows how serious I am about it and how against I am towards corporate meddling. It’s my series, no matter what a man in a suit with a boatload of cash says.
Anyway, that’s about it. I could go on much longer about these subjects, but I don’t want to waste your time.
That’s all for today. Take care, beware the full moon, and remember, the inn is always open.