Monday, February 15, 2010

A Different Set of Challenges

I've started to get feedback on the opening of my book (with about half of the precincts reporting).

Of course, what a part of any writer really wants at this stage is for everyone to tell you they plan to sing the praises of your book to the heavens, and for one of them to mention in a hushed hallway conversation that their first phone call will be to their twin sister, who heads up McMillan Publishing.

But the smart, feet-on-the-ground part of you wants real, hard criticism. And beyond that, you hope for consistency--in the good and the bad--of response. This simplifies your direction as a writer. It may not make the correction easy, but it does define one aspect of the path clearly.

The early responses to the opening my book have been consistent in one area ("Richard's a jerk and I don't want to read about him") and inconsistent in another (the main character's personal injury, and her timidity, bother some people but not others).

I can fix Richard's malfunction. And I know, based on readers' consistent response to him, that I should. It's not their responses alone that convince me. My decision would be far more challenging if I disagreed strongly with what they were saying.

But the jury's still out on how to handle the main character. For now, I wait out the rest of the outstanding readers and see if they bring any consistency to the story. For now, I try not to overreact, not to do unnecessary surgery. For now, I hold my breath and sit on my typing hands.

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