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Unintended Audience Reactions You Fear of:

Unfortunate implications.

I probably think too much about how I write characters that aren't white heterosexual cisgender neurotypical conventially attrative males. I worry about being politically correct in general. Hopefully I'm not going into political correctness gone wrong?

 27 Zendervai, Mon, 21st Jan '13 9:17:54 AM from North Toronto Relationship Status: Waiting for Prince Charming
Eccentric Dreamer
I'm worried that people will accuse my novel of trying to indoctrinate kids into believing Creationism. Uh, no. It's a clearly created universe so the story will work.
Everyone is a little bit insane. It makes the world so much more interesting!
 28 Collen, Mon, 21st Jan '13 1:33:28 PM from it is a mystery
vilent waler
I'm worried people will call my protagonist 'gay' when he's really bisexual just because he ends up with another guy. Or people saying there's a 'love triangle' in the book when there's not because they misinterpreted what poly relationships are. Or the theoretical fandom misgendering one of the trans* characters. Or... really anything of that sort.

 29 tsstevens, Mon, 21st Jan '13 3:43:13 PM from Internet, Tasmania Relationship Status: She's holding a very large knife
Researcher
These haven't kept me awake at night but I have several for the story I'm writing.

The first is whether it's seen as too political or racial. The main character is aboriginal and part of the story is dealing with aboriginal criminals who go off about being only being targeted because they're black. This certainly happens and there is a real disproportionate number of Indigenous criminals, but no matter how respectful and even handed my writing is how much is the truth going to hurt?

The second is if people might be put off by something like the murder victim being a transsexual. Might they read into it being some type of condemnation of them? I certainly don't make jokes about it or anything, the police treat it very seriously, the prostitution and sex work aspects are done I hope very respectfully, and I've cleaned up the language and harsher aspects as well because even if investigating a murdered transsexual and dealing with racism as a police officer are not topics for younger readers I don't want to exclude them because of the language.

But mostly I just hope people think it'll be good. I really tried to put a lot of work into it to make it as good as I can, but is it a case of it's been done or the characters arn't interesting enough, that sort of thing.
The mark of a good story means not feeling like The Angry Video Game Nerd hearing it.
[up][up] Oh seconding the one about readers labeling a character as just gay/lesbian when they're actually bisexual.

 31 Wolf 1066, Tue, 22nd Jan '13 12:23:11 AM from New Zealand Relationship Status: In my bunk
Wolf1066
People viewing my characters as unrealistic or stereotypical based on things I include that are actually taken from real life.

A for instance: yesterday at our airsoft game, one of the players (Chinese, about my height - 1m67) was showing off his new gas-powered MP 7 to one of the others who is around the 1m80 mark.

The taller guy asked how to adjust the length of the retractable stock and was shown. The guy who owned the gun quipped "I'm Asian, so I only ever need to pull it out to the first notch", I responded "Now, don't be racist."

Typical banter stuff and just begging to find its way into one of my stories, probably in a slightly modified setting.

And I just bet someone would start going on about me stereotyping Asians as short and how it's not realistic that a Chinese person would make such a comment.

And there are numerous other occasions where people I know take the mickey out of some stereotype that just happens to apply to them and I do the same thing when I do something that is "stereotypically" geeky, nerdy, "Kiwi", bloke-ish or whatever - and those are the sorts of things that I'm likely to put into a story to make the characters more human, interesting, witty, memorable, blah blah blah.

And they're the sort of things I fear would get me accused of unfair stereotyping. OMFG, his Chinese bloke is short, the bastard buys into that stereotype that no Asian is taller than 5'6! And he's got the character saying things that no True Chinese person would ever say!

It's also conceivable that some of my works would have a German that occasionally refers to himself as a "Kraut" or a Maori that calls everyone, including white-skinned people, by the "N-word".
Dangerously Genre Savvy since ages ago...
 32 Prime of Perfection, Tue, 22nd Jan '13 1:52:10 AM Relationship Status: P.S. I love you
People not caring about what I create is the only thing that I'd fear. Otherwise, I generally don't care. Unless it's a situation where I'm giving a really good reason to, why should I? People will always find something to criticize. While one should listen to their criticism, I feel what's ultimately important - least for me - is telling an entertaining story.

edited 22nd Jan '13 1:54:04 AM by Prime_of_Perfection

 33 Taira Mai, Tue, 22nd Jan '13 2:03:26 AM from El Paso Tx Relationship Status: One Is The Loneliest Number
rollin' on dubs
Eight Deadly Words, people thinking the story is just X with the Serial Numbers Filed Off ...

edited 22nd Jan '13 2:04:45 AM by TairaMai

 34 Wolf 1066, Tue, 22nd Jan '13 3:18:45 AM from New Zealand Relationship Status: In my bunk
Wolf1066
re Collen and Hermiethefrog's posts, I can imagine that happening easily enough in most of what I write as people are prone to applying labels.

In one WIP, the terms "polyamory" and "Christian Polygamy" are going to be explicitly mentioned and it's going to be clear that a couple of the female characters are definitely homosexual (even without using the terms "lesbian" or "homosexual") whilst another could not be taken as anything but bisexual (given her current involvement with both a woman and a man and her history of dating either sex) and another woman is going to have the If Its You Its OK situation happen with another woman, whereupon the "so does that make you bisexual now?" question will be asked by another character in-story.

But one of my other WIP, however, I'm aiming to deliberately shy away from using any terminology at all and just leave it to the readers and other characters to make up their own minds about the sexuality of the characters.

I'm sure that readers will make assumptions, which may be echoed by what some of the other characters say, but I'm not perturbed about it, I'm just going to let the characters be who they are and have no need/reason to explain in depth. (The idea being this is far enough into the future that polyamorous Civil Unions and same-sex Civil Unions are common-place and well known to pretty much everyone, so no need).
Dangerously Genre Savvy since ages ago...
 35 Iura Civium, Wed, 30th Jan '13 2:56:19 PM from Eagleland Relationship Status: watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ
I'm worried that I'll get pigeonholed as something I'm notónamely, a furry. Of the aliens in my setting that are not Starfish Aliens, the main species is basically bipedal dogs. This ultimately grew out of scenarios I used to draw and write aboutódog and rabbit aliens fighting in space. (Not coincidentally we have a dog that likes to chase rabbits, although a short story from the Dorsai universeónamely, "Lulungomeena"ówas most likely an influence also.)

Over time I've dropped, or at least thought I have, some of the more childish aspects of this scenario, and would love to develop it into a somewhat-hard sci-fi work. I kind of want to turn the tables a bit (having primate-type animals be kept as pets and used as beasts of burden by these aliens, and also trying to either play straight or play with the whole "man's best friend" thing). However, I could easily see how one could wrongly infer a sexual preference from this.
Jesus Christ is Lord.
 36 JHM, Wed, 30th Jan '13 7:48:05 PM from Neither Here Nor There Relationship Status: I know
Thunder, Perfect Mind
[up] I have had similar concerns, but not to as great a degree. The earliest roots of my current work go back to a small crop of gloomy, introspective and surprisingly sophisticated beast fables that I wrote in middle school. While the stories have undergone massive metamorphoses in the intervening eight or so years, the characters remained animal in form because... well, I never really pictured them as human, and changing them in that way would radically alter the story in a way that would make it less interesting to me.

The problem is, of course, the onus that comes with writing something with anthropomorphised animal characters in certain corners of the Web. I have nothing against furries, but I don't identify with the subculture and being misrepresented that way makes me kind of uncomfortable. But the flip-side to this is that what I'm writing is probably alienating enough on its own terms: The number of people put off just by that aspect is probably going to be fairly small compared to, say, the number of people put off by the plot or the writing style. So I just shrug and move on with my life.
I hate it when you're taking, say, a villain or at least a shady, ethically ambiguous character bent on doing something ethically questionable, and you try to give them a deep enough characterization to explain their actions beyond just mustache-twirling, and someone in your audience decides you're trying to excuse them. A lot of people really don't like complex moral issues or ambiguity.
 
 38 JHM, Wed, 30th Jan '13 10:28:32 PM from Neither Here Nor There Relationship Status: I know
Thunder, Perfect Mind
[up] Some people are intellectually lazy and don't feel like being morally challenged in their fiction. They are unimportant. Butó

There is a distinct difference between making an inimical character's actions understandable and painting them as justified. Confusing the two, either as an author or as a reader, is very dangerous. I think that this is more common than laziness on the part of the reader, but which of the two parties is to blame varies from case to case.

edited 30th Jan '13 10:32:33 PM by JHM

 39 Twentington, Thu, 31st Jan '13 1:08:50 PM from Somewhere Relationship Status: Desperate
Mustelidae = awesome
That I'll get called out for my characters making extremely illogical actions. As seen repeatedly in the "what would your character do in the above situation?" thread, I have no idea how anything works, and tend to rely on Ass Pull like crazy. I suppose it wouldn't be too big an issue in a more cartoonish world with No Fourth Wall, but even cartoon logic has some logic to it.
Windmill, windmill for the land / Is everybody in?

 40 Demetrios, Thu, 31st Jan '13 1:26:41 PM from Northbrook, Illinois
Speaking of characters, as much as I try not to be, I admit I'm a little worried about my audience writing off characters that I put a lot of time, effort, and heart into as Poochies.
Sabrina, help! I'm stuck in The Forties and they haven't invented kitty litter yet!
 41 Voltech 44, Thu, 31st Jan '13 9:02:14 PM from Alongside a Virtual Weasel
All Guns Sparking
I'll go ahead and second [up][up] — I try to put my best foot (or in this case head) forward when it comes to giving stories and characters internal logic to follow, but I can't shake the feeling that any number of readers will say that I've written an Idiot Plot. I suppose it would be karmic retribution for nitpicking so many other things in the past.

Alternatively, I'm worried about people will respond to the ladies of my cast(s). I do my best with them, but I know there's going to be someone out there who points a finger at me and raises an objection. (As a corollary, the concept and consequences of shipping terrify me.)

I'm pretty sure there are more, but it goes without saying that just the thought of putting something out there makes me want to tunnel into the earth and seal off the exit. But I guess I'm not alone, so I'll just have to suck it up.

...Wait, did I imply that I have two heads? Silly me; that leaves two heads unaccounted for!
Super Blog Link (Arcade Edition ver. 2013)
 42 Oh So Into Cats, Fri, 1st Feb '13 11:30:09 AM from The Sand Wastes Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
Eight Deadly Words, of course, but something else, in that people think that something I have thought long and hard about is a mistake. This happens a lot. Apparently the choices I make are bad.
"Beware of the wolves. They were raised by wolves."

Eidolonomics: ~60.4k/100,000 words
One reaction I never expected to happen to me was the reader mistaking a character's mistake for the author's mistake.

I guess the medium might be a factor. I'm thinking of that scene in the first Transformers movie when the government agent sees a Nokia phone and compliments the Japanese for it. Another character acknowledges the error in only a few minutes at a point where the audience is already engaged in the plot in a medium that is vaguely captive, so I'm guessing a lot of people didn't walk out of the theater due to disbelief that Michael Bay didn't know that Nokia is Finnish.

But it turns out that when a Bulbasaur thinks he's poisoned at the beginning of a story and he won't be corrected for five chapters, some people stop reading. Even on this site.

 44 Mecha Jesus, Mon, 4th Feb '13 8:28:28 AM from [Undisclosed]
Gay bacon strips
I also worry about receiving hate for one of my works. The story is meant to be a tragedy, but I can imagine people not quite taking well to a story that builds up a character and nurtures him and then he just dies. It's not an out of nowhere thing, but I can still picture people getting pretty pissed and thinking I'm an awful human being because of all the shit and character development that character went through just for it all to go to waste.

Well that's the point of a tragedy!!!

 45 Wolf 1066, Mon, 4th Feb '13 12:17:28 PM from New Zealand Relationship Status: In my bunk
Wolf1066
the reader mistaking a character's mistake for the author's mistake.
That one's crossed my mind when deliberately going for the Unreliable Narrator or just a character that's plain wrong/uneducated/misinformed. Or they're just plain "not infallible" - nothing wrong at all with having a brilliant chemist who, to use the above example, thinks a Nokia is Japanese.

And it shouldn't have to be "corrected" by some other character (or the author/narrator) at all.

I don't feel I should have to "show they're wrong" in story to hammer home that they are wrong to the readers, nor should I have to stick with blatant examples (e.g. the character of Birling in J.B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls, set in 1912, saying that there's never going to be a war as we're "too advanced" for such things and citing the fact that they've just built a completely unsinkable ship as proof of his assertation).

I should be able to put in something subtle that perhaps not everyone would know and have those who do know twig that it's the character, not the author, who's got it wrong.

Frankly, I'd like those who spotted it to feel good about spotting a subtle clue that the character's not as good as (s)he thinks (s)he is.

Especially when putting in a number of bits of misinformation that are completely irrelevant to the plot (and therefore do not need to have the character discover (s)he's wrong about them) to establish that the character "don't know everything" prior to having them spout some bit of misinformation that is plot relevant and bites them on the arse later in the story.

Frankly, I'd be appalled if I spent time and effort in Act 1 subtly sowing seeds of doubt on the character's infallibility, to foreshadow the big stinger and have their misinformation or lack of knowledge seriously impact them halfway through Act 2, only to have the reader's put down the book halfway through the first act because "that fucking stupid author doesn't know dick about such-and-such".

I think that if I saw a review to that effect of one of my works (or of some work I'd read and the author had done the same thing), I'd be moved to write a scathing reply along the lines of "read the whole book before commenting, you retard."

edited 4th Feb '13 12:27:30 PM by Wolf1066

Dangerously Genre Savvy since ages ago...
 46 Archereon, Mon, 4th Feb '13 1:33:22 PM from Everywhere.
Ave Imperator
@Wolf regarding the Asian joke: Yeah, the trouble there is you can only do that if you have N World Priveleges; which is to say if you are yourself Asian.

edited 4th Feb '13 1:34:33 PM by Archereon

This is a signature. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
[up][up] Uh... you can. Even people writing scathing reviews about how wrong you were doesn't stop you from writing it. They're not obligated to read the entirety of your work after they feel like they have reason not to, any more than you are obligated to make it incredibly obvious that you deliberately made the character wrong. You can tell people that it's setup if you must read your reviews and reply to them, but the point "scathing" becomes an accurate adjective to attach to your reply is the point that you've lost all high ground, I fear.

I don't think it's normal for a small bit of misinformation to cause a reader to throw the book across the room and stop reading, unless it's major pet peeve for some reason, though. If that's enough to make them stop reading, you've probably already failed to draw them in. No Antidote is a special case since it's the first thing that happens and there's a fair bit of time spent on it (and with something as well-known as the poison thing you only really can choose between "the opening is clearly establishing the character's lack of competence" or "how can the author not know something like this!?"). In most other cases, you have a chance to get the reader interested first, so they've got some reason to trust you, or at least some reason to keep going.

I personally would prefer that deliberate mistakes are acknowledged and corrected at some point, though, because frankly? People who don't know the truth—and for any one thing, there will be someone who doesn't—might remember that tidbit and think it's correct and not remember where they got it from. This happens all the time. And then you're partially at fault for other people carrying incorrect factoids in their head. Not a big deal, maybe. Still a thing.
You will not go to space today.
 48 Tiamatty, Mon, 4th Feb '13 3:49:19 PM Relationship Status: Brony
Bieber My Balls
Readers catching stupid mistakes I didn't realize I'd made. Like when I had a character point out that Prince Charming is from Sleeping Beauty, not Cinderella, only for a reader to point out that Prince Charming actually was from Sleeping Beauty. Oops.

I have actually acknowledged factual mistakes made by characters, and said I knew they were making a mistake. But that one was all on me.
 49 Wolf 1066, Mon, 4th Feb '13 5:15:44 PM from New Zealand Relationship Status: In my bunk
Wolf1066
[up][up][up]That's a bit racist, isn't it? Saying only certain races have the privilege of saying certain things?

Besides, I'd be portraying characters that have N-Word Privileges.

[up][up]No more at fault than the plethora of books out there where the author did not do the research or Failed Biology/Physics/Economics/Whatever Forever or Science Marches On (which is waaaaay to late for correction/revision)...

or most of the internet, for that matter. Found an entire web site devoted to debunking the myth that the Earth revolves the sun - which apparently is a vast conspiracy of politicians, scientists, academics and other evil creatures since the days of Gallileo.

And, no, it wasn't a spoof site.

Compared to that, if any person's prepared to take the word of a fictional story that Nokia is a Japanese brand just because one of the characters said it, then they've gotten off bloody lightly.

edited 4th Feb '13 5:25:02 PM by Wolf1066

Dangerously Genre Savvy since ages ago...
Well, yes, there are people doing worse. It's not like that mitigates whatever harm you're doing. The difference is that you know you're doing it, so you have the chance to choose not to. As I said, it's not a big deal (as long as it's not, like, first aid information or something), but it's still something I'd prefer to not occur. Not worth a lengthy argument; you can do what you want and I'll probably just not read your stuff, as it normally goes.

Little "facts" nestled in some greater text is probably more convincing than some conspiracy theory website that even the less discerning people could easily dismiss as crazy, though. If your story is interesting enough that they're fully immersed in it, they may be suspending their critical thought processes too. And when all is said and done, they're more likely to remember "I read/heard somewhere that Nokia is Japanese" than "a character in this story said this and they're probably right".
You will not go to space today.
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