Having been working fairly intensely the last few days on fleshing out the plot for lovejunky I’m becoming acutely aware of the potential conflict that any writer faces in relation to just letting the plot of a story go where it takes you as opposed to sculpting it in a certain direction in order to appeal more to any potential audience. This becomes more apparent when/if the end product may well end up being published.
It could be a more worthy-sounding response for a writer, an artist like any other, to want to remain true to the story and to just let it go where it pleases and for the most part this is what I’ve done in the past. You come up with a starting point, maybe you know roughly which direction it will go in or maybe not, but either way you let the story unravel. I tend to have ideas which form plot points, like dots on a piece of paper, which are then joined up to create the overall shape of the story. I might not know exactly how those joins will be made to begin with and occasionally the dots just refuse to meet up and some have to be discarded or reshaped but for the most part they do all join up.
But part of the fun of the writing process if figuring out how and where you can improve the story. For some this could be only done as part of the editing process but for others it might be done from the get-go. Having worked out a rough plot structure for lovejunky I now find myself looking at it thinking “is this the best way for things to happen?” I start to look at the balance of the story – does it take too long to get going? Does the first sentence or two grab the reader? Should I start at a slightly different point and then work backwards if need be?
I don’t see it as a negative thing being aware of what the audience or potential publishers might want – often massaging the story ever so slightly is all it takes. Certainly I’ll often be reading or watching something and it’s just not working for me. The pieces are all there but the pacing is too slow or the flow is uneven, the shape is all wrong. If I’m aware of this when consuming other people’s work then there’s no reason to think that people reading what I can come up with won’t aware too. So sure it’s only sensible to be aware of this and change the plot to suit?