Since I started telling people that I’m a writer, I constantly hear things like, ‘you should write a story about this’, or ‘this would be a good thing for your book’. I do my best to smile and nod and remind myself that most people have no idea what it takes to write a book. If I asked the average Jo on the street what a story arc was he’d probably say it had something to do with Noah and the world flooding.
Unfortunately, this month I’ve had to bite my tongue a lot (I may have permanent teeth indents). It seems like everyone I meet is handing out free advice to what will make my story better. I love that their excited for me and want to see the story go a certain way, but what they don’t understand is that the story is what it is. The characters do and say things because that’s the way they are in my head and I have no way of changing that (except when my editor tells me to, but that’s a whole other post).
A few years back I attended a seminar on customer service for my day job. The speaker gave us this line to use whenever we had a customer make some crazy suggestion as to how our business should be run. She said tell the customer ‘I’ll make a note of that’. In other words, you’re telling them you will take their suggestion to heart, but you’re not committing to actually change anything. For my work life this line has been invaluable and I find myself using it more and more in my writing life as well. It’s better than telling someone to go write their own (fill in the blank) book.
So what about you? Do you get people giving you crazy ideas for your stories, or am I just the lucky one? My favorite suggestion to date is when someone said I should make my teenage characters older, like in college. Um, it’s YA, not NA, and definitely not OA!