Another Writing Setback
My second book is about two people who survive a horrific event and fall in love. It seems like a standard romance topic. However, the girl is underage, and the story is unconventional. While I applied an extreme amount of effort to provide a universal appeal, I knew my creation might cause a few people to be offended or at least dislike the story.
In this time of South Park, Tinder, big sports cheating, political debacles, legal recreational drugs, common core education, and sex scandals, is it bad to have an offensive book? The bar has been set so low that my trivial efforts should not make a single wave. Knowing this, I chose to write this story because I knew its unconventional nature would pull people in. Hmm. Does mean that I intentionally wanted to offend a few people. Umm. I guess so. Is it my nature to offend people? Not at all. In fact, I go out of my way not to be offensive. Hmm. Something to think about.
Bringing my book to print has been a long road. My first editor applied less than the minimum effort. When I got the edits back, they put me into a panic. I went on a six-month self-editing frenzy to correct every mistake I could find. When I convinced myself that I had something worthwhile, I submitted it to another editor.
To put it mildly, the feedback from this new editor did not make me happy. It took a while to face the main issues. The male is an arrogant ass, and the girl reads like a confused idiot turned genius. To top it off, I had fundamental plot problems. The editor's overall opinion is that nobody will like it. Ouch.
Reading these comments really hurt, and I went into my unhappy place for a long while. Eventually, I pulled myself up, took a deep look into the actual edits and the comments. At this point, I need to take a sidetrack to explain what a good edit should accomplish. The most important task is to eliminate all grammar, spelling, logic, and format issues. Next, style and flow should be addressed. A good editor will also include constructive comments.
A bad edit will not correct the problems and introduce new ones. Unfortunately, this is exactly what I found. I never claimed to have great spelling abilities, but within five minutes, I located three Homonyms (words that sound alike but have different meanings.) Important sentences were deleted, facts changed and logic flaws introduced. The strange part is that many sentences were moved for no reason. This resulted in horrible flow and left me wondering about the editor’s true motivation.
Eventually, I concluded that the editor did not like the story and “wrote angry.” An ethical editor should have stopped the process and voiced their concerns. Instead, I got a huge mess that forced me to make a drastic decision. Rewrite the book with a new plot, drop the project or somehow continue. Of course, I bucked up. I am not a quitter, and I still like the story.
I decided to fix what could be fixed and ignore the other criticism. My first pass will address the character, plot, and logic problems. The result will be a more likable male and a realistic female. However, I see the downside to my efforts. By eliminating character flaws, I end up with bland people. Granted, I know that readers like characters they can relate to. An unfortunate tradeoff.
My second pass will attempt to incorporate the useful edits. This is not going to be a pleasant task, but I am up for the challenge.
Will the result have universal appeal? Regrettably, I am facing the reality that my story will offend some people and I will have to deal with the blowback. Up to this point, I did not fully consider this harsh possibility. However, I am aware that the popular book Harry Potter offended many people. Their big complaint is that magic is not real, and that book taught children otherwise. Are such complaints valid? Of course not, but people still got offended, and others took their complaints seriously.
Does an author feel the sting from invalid complaints? Negativity always hurts, which reminds me of a great quote from The Princess Bride. “Life is pain. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something.”
The world is a tough place, and a timid book will not get any attention. I have to keep remembering that fact, believe in myself, continue to take risks and push through the pain.
You’re the best -Bill
March 17, 2020
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