Of course writing, like everything else in life, is totally subjective. Give ten different writers a single premise and they will come up with ten totally different stories. Different heats, different lengths, different motivations, and completely different tones. So how do we do, what we do? Where do our stories come from?
Why...we yank them, full blown, out of our brain vaults.
No, not really...let me clarify...dragging them from the vault is like stripping wallpaper. The stories come out in strips and pieces, clinging to the surface of the vault with super glue fingers. Every once in a while we get really lucky and a big hunk comes out. For a day, or even an hour, the story falls from our fingertips onto the page. And then we'll hit an over-glued piece and the scrabbling with torn fingernails starts again.
I read a lot of reviews. Not just my own, but everybody's. Because I'm interested in the phenomenon of the 5, 5, 5...1. I mean, how does that happen? A universe of people will absolutely go to their graves proclaiming the wonderfulness of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and then there's that one schmoe who will give the book a 1 rating because he or she didn't understand it or had a myriad of complaints about how it was written. Don't get me wrong, I'm not disparaging the schmoe (not much anyway...hehehe) but it illustrates my point. When Suzanne Collins wrote the Hunger Games, she pulled the story, in its current form, from her brain. Though some of us would have wanted this a little bit different or that a little bit shorter/longer, what we want doesn't matter.
Not a whit.
The story is what the story is. Our jobs as readers is not to say, I wish... It is to either like or dislike the story that was created.
The fact that the story is already written in our heads can cause writers no end of troubles. If everybody HATES the way we wrote it, that sucks. When reviewer after reviewer complains that the story is too short (common) or too long (not as common) or to sweet...too hot...too (insert favorite complaint here) our instinct is to feel bad and to wonder if we screwed the story up.
I'm here to tell you, writers, NO. Stop it! The story is what the story is. Some readers will like it and some won't. That doesn't change the reality. Given a certain amount of information, our brains will write a story and put it into the vault. (Think Gringotts Bank in the Harry Potter series). The writer might not get to that particular story for a while, or he/she might jump right on that puppy, but the story is written. Done. Fini. Terminado. Minus some scrupulous editing. #:0)
Now, I feel it is my duty as a responsible author to remind you that that doesn't give any of us carte blanche to write sloppy stories with horrible grammar, ignoring all the rules of great fiction. We must always pay attention to the technical aspects of writing. But recognize that we are only keepers of the stories planted in our brains. We have to remain true to them.
So love your stories. Be kind to yourself. And readers (especially authors wearing their reader hats), don't wish a story were different. Embrace it for the wonder it is. Because stripping wallpaper is one of the hardest jobs in the world. But when that last tiny strip finally succumbs to your torn and bleeding fingernail and comes off the wall...well...nothing could be better than the feeling of accomplishment in that!