Okay, maybe occasionally.
I was asked recently by an acquaintance I "met" through an online writing forum to read a story he, the author, loved but was constantly being rejected despite decent peer reviews. He didn't understand how those nasty rejections could be happening considering the encouragement he'd gotten. So, because I may or may not have something of a reputation for being blunt, and because I always do what I'm told (oh, and see the note above about my never being wrong), I read it. And now I'd like to share what I found with you, because this is a common plague amongst writers. We must work together to eradicate it.
...Only to stop a moment later. Immediately, the problem became apparent. It is a problem I've seen several times, which is why I want to share my advice to him with you.
Here is my best writing advice.
You see, this story like so many others, was so swamped with lore-specific generalizations, I had no idea what the author was trying to tell me. Super. Distracting. And, because I didn't understand the lore, other things were lost, such as the writer's voice and the story's plot. Arguably, these are the most important elements of a good story.
Here's how this disease festers: An author is passionate about his words. That's great. Ideal conditions. Typically, he is passionate for the subject matter about which he's written, too. Again, these are all good things. However, the passionate author, because he loves and knows his work so intimately, often fails to realize that not everyone will share in his enthusiasm and knowledge. This is his downfall. When this happens, it is a sign that the disease has taken root.
Never fear. This ailment has an antidote. It can be destroyed if the passionate author makes the reader as passionate about the story as he is. How can he do that? I'm glad you asked. He can do it by being entertaining and by giving enough information about the the story and subject matter that the reader understands what is going on, though he must be leery not to give so much information the reader falls asleep. The author must tell a story the reader can connect to. If the reader does not understand, he will lose interest. It happens all the time.
2) Writers, listen to your readers. They are the ones you write for, at least they should be if publication is your goal. They see things with unbiased eyes. Ignoring their thoughts will not get you any further ahead than you are right now. Listening to your readers is the best way to grow as an author. Readers, even ones with no knowledge of the way a story is constructed, will always be your best mentors. Every opinion is valid. If a reader didn't understand something, tweak the story so that the next reader will. You should not have to explain a thing in a separate document.
Fiction writing is, at its core, entertainment for readers. That's it. That's what is most important. Show us something new, that's cool, teach us something even. But make sure you do it in such a way as to make the story clear and enjoyable else all your hard work will be lost. Consider your reader the child that is reluctant to practice his cursive. We, the adults, know it's important to be able to write a thing by hand, but forcing the matter on a child will only make him more resistant. However, if you have the child write a Christmas list to give to Santa, suddenly practicing cursive is not such a chore. It's shouldn't be a chore to read your story either. If you're going to include a lesson, be sneaky. Blatant lessons are not entertaining in fiction writing (that's what nonfiction is for...BURN!!).
3) My third piece of advice is not my own. I didn't come up with it. However, it remains true and I wish to steal the concept to make myself look smarter. Here it is:
If there is a simpler way to say a thing, be simple. Be wary of big words that just sit around taking up space like the literary version of shih tzus---cute, but not particularly useful. Use literary bling bling as needed for your voice or the voice of your character, but be sure each word has earned its place. That includes wonky sentence structure, too. This was a problem in my author's story.
Don't get me wrong. I am all for variety in sentence structure. What I meant above is this: In this particular author's story, I had the feeling that he was going for something...a rhythm maybe inspired by Shakespeare's original tale. I thought perhaps he was trying to match the master. Now, I'm not saying that you shouldn't strive for excellence. What I'm saying is that we should not try to be a dead guy. Uniqueness cannot be praised enough. Respect the masters, learn from them, but be yourself. Simple as that. If your words are too difficult for your reader to understand or your sentences too awkward, your message will be overpowered---lost in weirdness. Reading it will become a chore. No one approaches fiction with the intent of doing a chore.
And that's it. Three things. Shouldn't be too tough...