Being intentional while writing

I like giving readers feedback on their stories when they ask for it in Literotica’s Story Feedback forum. Of late, two other people have been giving feedback on stories that I give feedback on. We have different very different critiques of those stories. At times, the other two are like “Ignore that loon, 8letters.”

A lot of the contention is because I feel that an author should clearly define the context for his story and the other two critiquers don’t. For example, we all reviewed a story set in Feudal England where the main male character is a Norman noble. He basically parachutes into the story all alone with no description or backstory. We don’t even know his age. My feedback was that the story would have been better if the author had told us more about the main male character. The other two critiquers disagreed.

Coincidentally, I’m writing a Dad-Daughter story where we know almost nothing about the Dad. I don’t describe how he likes, what he does for a living, where he grew up, etc. I’m doing for him what the other author did for his Norman noble. And I’ve been thinking why I feel it is appropriate for my story and not for his.

What I’ve come up with is being intentional about the details. We authors need our readers to fill in the details and we should be intentional about the details we ask them to fill in. In my story, the main male character is the father of three children. How he interacts with his kids defines his character. The attraction that builds between him and his daughter comes out of those interactions. Where he lives, what he does for a living, where he grew up, etc aren’t germane to the story. By leaving them out, I’m making the character more universal and hopefully more people can put themselves in his shoes. On the other hand, we should know more about the Norman noble so that we can understand why the female main character falls in love with him.

Similar to that, I think it’s good for there to be unanswered questions in a story. In “My European Summer Vacation”, why did Sinead walk up to Noel and start talking to him? Eventually, I answered that question. But an author should be intentional about what questions are unanswered.

Thinking about to the feedback I gave the author, what I was trying to get across was that he was repeatedly unintentional about the details. It was like he had a great punch line but he wasn’t telling us enough details to set up the punch line.

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