One of my hobbies is creative writing. I’ve been writing novels for years now, and I’ve even posted early drafts of a couple of them on the Literature topic. Of course, those are just early drafts-if I want to actually publish my books, then I need to get feedback from people. That’s why I’ve shared my stories with various friends and family members. A few of them have said that they enjoy my stories, but the majority…well, most people never seem to get past the first few chapters. People says that they’re really busy, or they haven’t gotten around to reading, or both. Maybe that says something about the quality of my work, maybe it doesn’t, I can’t say for sure. Like I said, the minority of people that read my novels all the way through have mostly good things to say. But it’s a minority.
So…what is the problem? As I’ve hinted above, it could say something about how good I actually am at creative writing. But when I think about it, I don’t hear that many people say that they like reading in their spare time. Maybe it’s also because people’s schedules can be busy, what with school, work, family time, friend time, time for their own hobbies, etc. But I’m starting to wonder if the problem is that people just don’t like reading books anymore. I mean, here we are, living in a world where TV, movies, and video games are taking over the entertainment industry. I don’t think anyone hates reading or anything like that, but…is it just not the fashion anymore?
I kinda agree with @ToaOfPlastic on this. It’s a lot more enjoyable for me to read about something I already like. Part of that could be that even if the book itself isn’t great, I can still learn about something I enjoy. Another thing that applies to me is that I take books very slowly and people trying to rush me through it takes out a lot of the enjoyment. Sometimes I’ll read just to get people off my back and not because I want to.
As someone who used to be a genuinely addicted reader, I can say that personally a lot of my problem now is such easy access to the internet. For as much as it allows me to communicate with others and share and view things I enjoy to a level I never would have pre-internet, it very much drives that idea of instant gratification. You send a post to a friend, they can reply nearly instantaneously with little hassle. Finished a YouTube video? There’s at least three or more catching your eye just in the sidebar for you to click.
Reading can be fun, but reading is also an investment of time and effort (and potentially, if you’re not sure of the book in question’s quality: a waste of that time and effort invested), much more effort than just passively consuming a show, film or video on YouTube. Why do that when you can be gratified instantly by falling down a YouTube clickhole? Even once you do start to read, notifications can quickly pull you away from what you’re reading and send you on a whole other distracting tangent. Sometimes it gets to the point where you read maybe two paragraphs of what you were planning to dedicate time to before you have to turn in for the night.
I have no idea how much of this is a me problem, but it wouldn’t surprise me if I wasn’t the only one here.
Reading and writing are things I always have and always will enjoy, but I really agree with what @TheMightyObsidianDude said about having easy access to the internet, if less so with @ToaOfPlastic and @Krelikan. If you only read books about things you like you’ll never expand you literary expertise and experience. For example, the primary theme of Crime and Punishment is Alienation from Society, which isn’t something I’m particularly interested in, if you get my drift, but I fully plan on reading it.
Anyway, that was my two cents, I feel very strongly about this topic, if not so much about reading in particular but the completely digital way society runs rn.
I would encourage you to post your stuff and get feedback on a site more focused on this sort of thing. If you’re looking for people on this site to read your work, I’m be happy to read through it this summer.
I don’t see anything wrong with sticking to what you like. It’s supposed to be fun like video games; I’m not interested in sports or whatever so I could care less about some stupid sports story. Some of us don’t like watching or reading something just becuase of culture or “muh subtext.”
I don’t read too much but I’ll use anime as an exampmle; I enjoy seeing the worst of humanity but only with things I like; I don’t care care if thus sports thing has the same subtext; I’m not watching it.
I can definitely second Obsidian’s experiences here. I was a prolific reader when I was younger, and when I joined my first forum a few years back I would spend tons of time reading any new posts, be it fan theories, fictional writing, or whatever. Nowadays, though, it’s just easier to put my time and attention elsewhere - YouTube is something I can have on in the background while doing other things, and there always seems to be an unread notification on Discord or a game I want to put a few more hours into. My habits have changed, and my ability to focus for extended periods of time seems to be dwindling. It seems to be a common experience among many of my friends, from what I’ve gathered.
The one thing that has killed my love of reading books more than anything is being able to read scholarly articles online.
I’m much more of a nonfiction reader than fiction, but with an internet connection I can learn about the topics I once read about online. It’s for this reason that I’ve barely touched my required textbooks the last few years; I can find the answers to my questions on Stackoverflow. (I’ve now started actually reading some of those textbooks since I have a lot of spare time this summer.)
Your question is based majorly around the public reception of your works. I actually read a good amount of your first novel, but the premise and style of writing disinterested me heavily, and any major feedback I would have would revolve mostly around that.
It’s possible, as well, that this is a reason why your novels aren’t picking up traction on the boards. The general idea of a kid going inside his toys’ world has been done to death in literature, and if the necessary attention span required for keeping up with the 22 chapters you wrote releasing over the course of ten days didn’t kill general interest, the overused plot might have.
As for the topic of the topic, I have a nonsensical schedule that varies between extremely lax and simple to necessary for survival, which means that more casual necessities in my day to day often get overlooked. I used to read a fair amount, but a general distaste in most literary topics lead to a bit of a silent era where I hardly ever picked up a hardcover. Nowadays I barely read not because of the internet, but because there’s something more important going on that needs my attention.
Reading and writing are topics that have always been very important to me. For instance, if it wasn’t for the books, O would never have gotten into Bionicle. But, I’ll concede that I don’t always have the patience for reading I used to. Though, this may also have to do with the time I have to spend on school and such, and especially the books that school requires us to read. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes teachers will assign great books: this year I read Brave New World, a fantastic novel that I highly recommend. But, for every Out of the Silent Planet by Lewis, there’s a Metamorphosis by Kafka, or a Awakening by Chopin. Reading a book that I don’t like can often leave a bad taste in my mouth, and may result in me choosing other activities instead of reading shortly thereafter. But, a great book is much more satisfying than even a great movie or show, precisely because of that risky emotional investment.
On the bright side, more people will probably reading now than they otherwise would have, due to being bored in quarantine. Even though libraries are mostly closed, many of them offer online platforms, like Hoopla Digital (@ProfSrlojohn, if you’ve exhausted your physical library, you could try this, or, once life gets back on track, get new books through Inter Library Loans).
If anyone is looking for books to read right now, I would recommend (along with the above stories), Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for those who want something funny, and anything by Matthew Riley for action lovers. If you want something heavier, I’m currently working through Invisible Man, and it’s really good.
Sorry that I didn’t respond to any of you sooner. But I’ve gotten some pretty good responses.
Same with me, actually. Of course, that’s also why I try to write about things I like, too.
That’s kind of the point that I’m making…in this day and age, it seems like people favor YouTube and the Internet over sitting down to read a book.
I guess that’s my ulterior intent; however, like I said, the novels I’ve posted on here are early drafts. I want to finalize them before sending them off to a book-reading website.
Right then. I’ll probably have some coming…
I do that, too. I’ll have a YouTube video playing when I’m surfing the Web, posting on these boards, or writing one of my stories.
In a way, yes. The whole reason I share my novels with others in the first place is to get feedback. Which, in a respectable amount of cases, I have gotten. The main thing I care about is for my novels to flow well, make logical sense, and overall just tell a good story. I think that that’s the first and foremost priority when writing. I mean, look at Pixar. Their movies, at their core, are kids’ films, but they don’t dumb themselves down. They put effort into telling a good story. That is what I want to do. But then, of course…
If you don’t like my writing style (e. g. the way I format my paragraphs, my vocabulary, etc.), that’s completely okay. And if it feels like it’s not for your demographic, then that’s okay too. I’ve heard similar things about some of my other novels. Just because I can pander to one demographic, doesn’t mean every demographic will be interested. I accepted that a long time ago.
Last I checked, the topics where I posted my novels had a couple hundred reads each. I’m pretty okay with that.
A couple things…
1.) I never intend to make any of my novels 20+ chapters long. I just want to be sure that my story feels complete. I want to resolve all my plot threads, provide details for the reader to understand, and develop my characters the way I see fit. Of course, I also try not to drag things out, either.
2.) About the premise being one that’s been done before…I mean, I’m gonna be honest-I haven’t read a book like that. Maybe I’ve heard of one, but that’s just my subjective experience. This is a criticism that I simultaneously agree and disagree with. It can indeed be tiring to see the same things done over and over again. I remember last fall (or late summer?) when Dreamworks’ Abominable came out, I was like “Wait, didn’t we just have this movie? Oh yeah, that was Smallfoot. Carry on.” But there’s also the argument that there are only five original stories out there, and there are only 10 original characters, and we only ever see variations on them. However, key word: VARIATIONS. It helps when a story takes a well-worn concept and adds something new to the table. I’ve tried to do that, but…I seem to have failed.
Again, this is something that I can completely respect. I’m not trying to berate anyone for having a busy schedule or anything like that.
Personally speaking I also third what Obsidian said, although I still do read, it’s just not as often. One thing I noticed tho; is that I have a harder time reading digitally than reading a physical copy. If it’s physical I’ll likely be more willing to read it and pay more attention to it. I say that partly out of experience from reading the Bionicle novels and a few Light Novels.
While I enjoyed them, I felt as those I would have enjoyed them more if I had a physical copy of the text.Though I did learn what kind of writing I do prefer, which has helped me pick out stuff I prefer. For example with Bionicle: Time Trap is largely one of my favorites; however the only reason I do like it as much as I do, is the last confrontation with Teridax that Vakama has. If it didn’t have that scene I likely wouldn’t have enjoyed as much.Which is odd, because I generally prefer action over dialogue. With Hapka’s work I found myself preferring her style of writing generally over Greg’s heavy use of dialogue. (which is probably an unpopular option but what evs.) I found myself more engrossed with how she wrote the early bionicle books, but with Greg’s novels I found myself skimming 3/4 of the books, or even skipping pages till I found something that caught my eye.
This kinda turned into a rant, but it is what it is.
As an aspiring novelist and an avid reader myself, I feel compelled to weigh in on this.
I’ve written many stories. When reading my recent stuff, many people have said that it’s really good, so I’d say I’m at least a halfway decent writer.
Now, a lot of what I write is short stories, stuff that doesn’t take that long to read/write. And I’ve posted many of those writings on the MB’s, gotten a handful of comments among them.
One of the longer things that I’ve written, full novel length, is Matoran Wars, which is 8 chapters, about 2000 words per chapter. I’ve gotten no feedback on it, though one like on the first chapter, and I haven’t really looked at the number of views – of course, a person could ‘view’ the topic without reading the story, too. I’m not saying this to complain, or saying ‘please read my stuff’, just providing a point of comparison.
As for reading – I do read many long physical novels, particularly series that I follow and enjoy. However, I don’t like to apply a lot of time to read something I’m not sure if I’ll find interesting or investing, particularly online. I did skim through some of your first novel, and it didn’t particularly grab my interest. Not a lot of the longer stories on the MB’s do catch my interest, though some do, if they are particularly interesting or well-written.
For notable example, Scorpion Strike’s The Folly of the Toa (this is a link to the final chapter, which in turn links to the rest of the chapters), undoubtedly longer than your stories, I read through each chapter as they were posted, and have read the whole thing through a second time since. I didn’t post on every chapter, but I did when I had something to say. I say this mostly to prove that I can read long-form online stories, if they catch my interest.
There’s an important point nestled in here that nobody’s mentioned, I think, which is that–thus far–you’ve only shared your work with friends and family, as well as on the boards. It’s very hard to gauge how your work will be received in public through the reactions of those close to you. You might think, “Oh, my family will definitely read my story, because they’re my family!” or “They’ll give me an honest critique because they know me!” This might be true, but it’s much, much easier to procrastinate on something given to you by a family member, because as much as they might want to help out, there’s going to be much less of a threat of disappointment. You’re not likely to ignore them or tell them off because they didn’t get through the whole thing.
If you want to gauge how you might be received by the public, you have to publish something, plain and simple, and not on obscure online forums like TTV (sorry guys )…
As you said, maybe it says something about your skill, maybe not. Again, your family and friends are going to probably be more casual about reading your stuff, and they are more likely to tell you it’s good, because they obviously don’t want to make you feel bad, regardless of what they think.
All you can do is keep practicing. There’s a common adage that says, in order to get truly proficient at something, you have to do it for 10,000 hours. Not in a row, just cumulatively. If you keep honing your skills, reading, and writing everything that you can, you’ll be ready to publish in time, and then you can see what the world truly thinks of you…
Here’s where my opinion really comes in. I think the answer to your question about whether people no longer like to read is…yes, and also no.
Do people still read fiction and books? Absolutely. Or, at the very least, they buy them. Where the problem arises is in how we’re taught to view reading. From an early age, we tell people that they must read, when what we should be doing is allowing them to read and cultivate their own interests. Reading should be a pleasurable activity, but the way we teach it and require it in school makes it a chore, a task that needs to be finished quickly so we can do “more fun” things.
You may think it’s because you only read dusty old books in school, but that’s not it at all. Many of those books are some of the best ever written, and they should be read by many more people than they actually are. But when a child is given dozens to hundreds of pages a night to read, in preparation for an endless slew of comprehension quizzes that test for useless facts about what they have read, the act of reading is corrupted. Reading becomes less of a matter of learning something, or encountering ideas, and more about wondering which character took a trip to some city in Chapter 25.
If you teach someone to read for ideas, for the simple joy of reading a story, they’ll learn far more than they ever do from memorizing names, places, and events, and–surprise, surprise–they’ll actually enjoy reading. Instead, we have a society where the phrase, “I don’t like to read” is sadly common, because people have been taught to see the very idea of reading as a chore, and this has only been enhanced by the Internet, where the concept of short, quick, easy reading is the norm.