If you’re a writer, here’s some good news for you: You can’t please everyone. Not everyone likes the genre you write in. Not everyone will enjoy your writing style. Not everyone will connect with your characters or be intrigued by your plot.
And that’s great news.
Wait! How can this be good news?
It’s good news because you are free to be yourself. The story you’re writing gets to come out of who you are. You get to use what you find compelling. What interests you might not interest others. But tapping into your interests is the best way to write a story that your audience will find compelling.
Don’t base your story on what is popular or what sells well to the public. There are at least two things wrong with going after popularity:
- You trade your creativity for a cookie cutter mold.
- You cut yourself out of the process.
Stories that come from a mold usually have no human personality or emotion behind them. They may be entertaining for a little while, but they are ultimately empty and are quickly forgotten. If you try to write your story out of everything and try to make it for everyone, your story will end up as nothing.
Here’s a story that illustrates this point…
One of Aesop’s fables tells of a war between the birds and beasts. For many years they fought. Sometimes the beasts would have the upper hand and sometimes the birds would. There was, however, one creature that was always on the winning side: the bat.
When it looked like the birds were winning he would side with them, and when the beasts were winning he would go over to their side and fight for them. As the war raged on, the bat kept switching sides, always keeping with those who had the upper hand.
At last, the war ended, and the bat thought to himself: “the birds and beasts will surely make me their king because I was everyone’s ally during the war.” When he came to the gathering of the birds and the beasts he found to his surprise that none of the animals wanted anything to do with him. “Traitor!” they called him. “You were loyal to no one.”
In the end, he was everyone’s enemy.
And the moral of the story is: You can’t pledge your allegiance to everyone.
This is a great philosophy to live by. But it’s also a great philosophy to write by. If you write to please everyone, you’ll end up pleasing no one.
You cannot be loyal to the masses. You need to be loyal to your side—who you are.
You are unique. And that which is popular is (usually) cliché and consequently shallow. What people find compelling is a story with personality and depth, with its own quirks and nuances, with its own biases and subjectivity. In short, readers are compelled by a story that has a human individual behind it—you.
So write what comes from you, because what you have may be your best resource.