A couple of days ago I sent off the first 27K of The Dark King to my critique partner. I admit that I was nervous to hear what she thought about the first half of the book. I have a few ‘questionable’ scenes in this novel and I wanted to make sure that they came off right.
I’ve learned over the years that my ‘personal’ taste doesn’t exactly gel with readers’ tastes. It was a very hard lesson to learn, but one I keep in mind while I’m writing. It doesn’t make me change my stories (I’m too ornery to do that.;), but it does make me brace for readers’ reactions. The best examples of this are my books: RED and PHANTOM WARRIORS: BACCHUS.
I knew RED was going to have a love/hate relationship with a bulk of the readers. I could tell when I was writing it that a lot of readers were going to have a STRONG reaction to certain scenes. And I was right. When I wrote RED, it not only was my first full-length single title, it was also a story that I NEEDED to tell. I was so frustrated and disillusioned during that time period that I needed an outlet to express those emotions. It’s why the killer is written in first person. I ‘related’ to the killer more than any other character in that book at the time I was writing the novel. I have absolutely no regrets about the choices I made while writing RED, but I can’t promise that when I re-edit it next year and re-release it that there won’t be new story elements included. I’ve thought of a lot of things I wanted to add to that book over the years and now I have the chance.
In a different way, PHANTOM WARRIORS: BACCHUS does the same thing. I knew given that he was from the BLOOD CLAN and reptilian in nature that he’d hit a lot of readers the WRONG way. Couple that with questionable behavior and a few edgy, sexually explicit scenes at a kennel and you have a recipe for strong reader reactions. The one thing I did change in BACCHUS’ story when I re-edited it was the suicide that originally took place in the story. I’d just had a dear friend kill himself and it didn’t seem right to keep that particular storyline intact. I chose to make the circumstances surrounding the death a motor vehicle accident instead. Stephen King is fond of saying that writers need to tell the truth, but in this instance I took the coward’s way out because frankly the truth hurt too much. Still does. As for the other elements in that story, I wrote it years ago for Ellora’s Cave. I thought I owed it to the readers who’d originally picked up the book and liked it to keep it as true to form as possible.
Now back to the topic at hand, (yes, I actually had one *ggg) I heard from my critique partner last night and she LOVED what she read of the book. As always, she had a lot of wonderful suggestions that will make the story stronger, but she thought the writing was terrific (huge relief since I’ve been working on my craft) and that Hades, The Dark King was to die for. YAY!!! This made my night. Now I just have to finish the rest of the book. :-O