I will write again. Really.
It’s not like I’m depressed and not writing, it’s more like I’m regrouping. Yeah, that’s it!
You see, I have this MS. It’s completed and I’ve done some editing, but I knew it needed a lot more. That part I was aware of. But I’ve had lots of great feedback on it from my readers/critique-ers. In fact (it’s a YA) one of the younger readers who doesn’t get swept away with books too often, couldn’t put it down and finished in two days. Wow, I thought, I have something here.
So with that feeling in mind I sent it off to another reader, my queen of beta-ing reader. YA isn’t her norm for personal reading, but that doesn’t really matter with her. She knows her stuff and she’s able to put aside her personal preferences and judge it based on story strength and genre. She’s great and I trust her judgment, a lot.
So when her review came back on the first three chapters, my prior happy bubble, burst. Maybe I should say, BURST.
My main character is snarky, whining, and unlikeable?
Yes, there were other issues, a lot of which I expected since I really needed to do another edit to trim the fat. There were also some issues that are easy enough to alter that will make the flow better. But, Snarky, Whining, and Unlikeable? Holy Cow, what do I do with that?
Since then I’ve been busy, plus I’ve been trying not to think about it, while trying to resolve what I can possible do at the same time. Thinking about something without thinking about it can be harder than I expected. So now I’m here, ready to mentally hash this out.
Yes, my character is snarky, but it’s all inside her head. She has the outward, verbal, her and the inward one that’s free to think what it wants. She also reads minds, in a unique way, so she sees a lot of the hypocrisy in people, kinda like the hypocrisy in her, but she figures that out later. At first she’s let her thoughts have a pretty free reign, but as she realizes that her thoughts aren’t exactly private, she has to start being responsible for them. She has to grow up, and quickly, but that’s easier said than done.
Apparently my young readers connect to this snarky-inner thoughts-girl. Thinking one thing, acting out another, still developing your own opinions in a lot of ways. My older readers never mentioned anything negative about her, so I assumed all was good. (Yes, I’ve put out a second request for them to tell me their thoughts on her, so I can hash it out a bit more.)
I guess I connect with her too. When I was young I thought a lot and spoke a little, I still do I guess, unless writing counts as speaking, then I’ve become a chatterbox I suppose. I don’t think I’m mean to people, but maybe in my thoughts I give myself a little room to speculate and poke fun. That’s not nice, but I think a lot of us do it to a degree. I think young people do it to a greater degree. It’s how they decide their own opinions about people, taking the surface into account, taking speculation into account, adding in perceptions and then formulating your own idea.
So now I’m at a difficult point. How snarky is too snarky? I don’t want her to turn people off, and yet maybe I have to turn some people off in order to connect with others. Do I tone her down? Will I lose the interest of those who connect with her if she is toned down? Do I grow her up more in the beginning, and in doing so lose the part of her that drew me to her? How do I know when her voice is right for her and when I’ve harmed her voice by changing it?
To be honest, I still don’t know the answers.
I know there are a lot of other editing issues I could tackle. I know I should do that first and decide on her voice and the degree of her snark after I spend more time with her. Before I can do that I need to finish my current WIP, which was halted due to time constraints and too much thinking and trying not to think.
It’s time to get back to it. I know it is. Nothing will happen if I don’t pick up the laptop and get busy. It’s up to me, so I better beat the funk and do my job.
My question for you is this:
How do you reconcile the varying opinions of your readers and critique partners without losing the original vision and voice which made you want to write the story? When the responses don’t agree, where do you find the balance?
Thanks for traveling with me for this little while on my writing journey.