Something I Learned from the Audience

I recently gave a reading of some of my newest stories. I love readings. They give me a chance to listen for what’s working and what’s not working. This is trickier than it sounds. When I write to be funny, I can listen for laughter. But when I’m writing to express darker or more complex emotions, what should I make of the silence? I enjoy trying to discern the different qualities of audience attention.

The reaction to one story was particularly interesting. They enjoyed it but then they wanted to know what happened next, after the story ended. I didn’t know myself. The whole story was what I just read for them.

Now I get to figure out: were they right? Was the story I read just the beginning of a larger story, or was it already complete? And if they were right, what’s the rest of the story? The feedback was up to them and the response is up to me.

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