My, how things have changed for me!
When I first started reading fic, I obsessively had to finish everything I started and I felt very apprehensive in regards to reading work in progress. How would I be able to sleep at night if I didn’t know the conclusion?! I know many people are like that. And there is nothing wrong with feeling that way. It’s just not the case for me anymore.
I have started and never gone back to sooooo many stories – WIPs AND completed. It doesn’t bother me anymore. What thrills me about reading and writing is the little tidbits – words that are strung together in a perfect harmonious marriage.
Like anyone, I love a good storyline. It’s a great testament to an author’s talent when they can successfully reach the end of their tale, having kept me interested the whole time. But it’s icing on the cake for me, at this point. It’s actually quite rare that I love a story, beginning to end. And I am so behind and have so much to read that I lose interest very quickly. What keeps me going is the meat. The bones. The sentences that make it all up that stop me in my tracks and make me think ‘wow’. I’m all about process right now.
That’s why I can read and thoroughly enjoy WIPs and incomplete stories. By skipping those, readers could be missing out on a world of greatness. That is their call. It’s a balance between potentially stumbling across those great moments versus having the whole picture. I would personally just rather forfeit the possibility of the latter in the hopes of finding even more gems. And I also have a pretty creative imagination. If something I am wrapped up in just stops abruptly, I can continue it in my own head. Sometimes, I do that with completed works anyway if they take a turn I dislike.
What is NOT okay is flaming authors of WIPs or telling them they should just withhold everything until it’s completed. As someone who has dabbled with the writing side of things (and has also never completed anything), I know that it’s fun to communicate with readers during the process. They can be a great source of inspiration and encouragement. They can change the trajectory of your story. It wouldn’t even be what it ends up as without that feedback. And there are readers like me (I CAN’T be the only one who feels this way) who are totally okay with half-done and are very happy to take whatever is put out there. No complaints.
It is the REVIEWERS who leave this sort of crap that have the problem, not the authors. Hitting that complete button shouldn’t be the measuring stick of an author’s talent. There are some immensely talented writers I’ve come across who, like me, have many unfinished stories. And there are some who have a long list of fics to their name that I flounce because their writing doesn’t grab me. It does take talent to be able to write a well-rounded, whole story. But it’s not the only kind of talent there is in writing.
It’s very simple. If you have a problem with incomplete work, DON’T READ IT UNTIL IT’S DONE! And if you choose to chance it, keep your big girl panties on. If the story is abandoned or takes months or years between updates, remember that was a choice you made. Appreciate what you get.
(originally posted to Eat. Sleep. Breathe. Twilight.)