Middle Child Press: The Importance of Chatter


The Importance of Chatter

Those of us who write and publish stories on fanfic sites, blogs, and communities do so for any number of reasons.  Some do it for love of storytelling and others do it to perfect the craft.  I do it for both, as does my partner in crime Ankhesen.  One of the things we appreciate, as does any author, is feedback.  It’s important to have an overall sense of the effect a story has on its readers.  It’s essential for us to hear from our core audience about how well—or how poorly—we’re doing with the material.  One of the things I really enjoyed writing in fandom communities is the continuous dialogue I had with fans of my work.  Feedback chatter has a way of clarifying simplistic aspects of a story, aspects not necessarily a point of importance or significance with the author.

Case in point, in “Sexy Beast,” I wrote about Uhura’s fascination with the decadent food in the officer’s dining room.  Those familiar with my work know that food is as much of a protagonist in my stories as anything else.  It was never my intent to use Uhura’s epicurean obsession as anything other than details, but a few of the readers considered it a clear indicator that she was pregnant.  I hadn’t thought about it, but when reviewing the chapters, I could see why they would make such an assumption.  Then the next thing I knew, Uhura was pregnant, and her baby ended up being a major plot point for the second half of the book.  It was most certainly not in my original conception for the story, but such was the influence of the readers’ chatter. 

Sheila and K’avir’s creation also came about via fan feedback.  I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating.  K’avir wasn’t even supposed to be a character; he was originally intended as filler.  Then Sheila made a casual observation about Spock's security chief, and two chapters later Noob (and a few other ladies) asked me what the hell happened between them.  I don’t have to reiterate what that led to.

The point is, while we writers will write regardless, it really is useful for our fans to engage us.  Sometimes things that we don’t even notice become significant because a reader pointed it out.  Things that we may have unintentionally left lying around get picked back up and used appropriately.  Fan feedback is extremely important because readers directly influence the narrative.  When some of us ask for feedback, we’re not fishing for compliments.  We really do want to know what our readers think.  So if you’re a reader and a fan and you have ideas, suggestions or complaints, let us know.  I personally interact with everyone who takes the time to comment on my stories, and while I may not always implement some suggestions I get, that does not mean they go completely ignored.  Good ideas are impossible to kill, and one way or another, they find their way into another story.  So when an author or a storyteller asks for comments and/or feedback…don’t be shy.  Your thoughts, ideas and opinions are welcome, so please don’t be afraid to share them.