It is amazing how people who write stories I can't relate to at all, also are able to give useful critique on my story, as different as it is from theirs. It makes me feel that much worse when the only critique I can give them is a polite version of "this story sounds like a recount of Dungeons & Dragons adventure. Could you put an original idea or two into it?" It's even worse when it turns out the majority of the group loved the story, and I'm the only one there who found it "bla". I still don't know how to critique a story not based on my personal taste, but looking at it through the eyes of potential audience. I.e. if it is a run-of-the-mill fantasy, how do I put myself in the shoes of an audience who can't get enough of run-of-the-mill fantasy, instead of counting its strict adherence to the genre against it?
Then again, I am capable of finding merits of stories in the genre I don't like, and having an interesting, complex character would be one of them. Such a story could potentially interest me despite being not my genre. However, just like there are people who read science fiction not for characters, but for the inner workings of the science-fictional world, there are probably people who read fantasy not for characters, but for the mechanics of the fantasy world. Those people would probably satisfied with a garden-variety fantasy plot. I just can't put myself in their shoes.
Some pictures from the writers' workshop and from Fencon in general can be found in my photo gallery.
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