Last year on Halloween, I received the second round of feedback from the editor on my current project, A BLACK WATER SEASON. She’d read the first 100 pages back in the spring, and, in a nutshell, hated them. So, I had to start the story over and when I did, I changed it by telling it from a different POV, as well as shifting to a dual narrative. I sent her the brand new sample pages and waited. They came back about ten days later – with a thumbs up – and I recall telling her I was glad I’d received a treat – not a trick. It was Halloween, after all.
Of course, all of you know by now, the project is finished. You know that it received wonderful praise from a focus group of test readers out of Book-Hive. I received Author Of The Month as it was their highest ranked manuscript in August.
What you don’t know is the editor did not like certain things about the story, and did not like it enough to have me send it straight away to my agent. She said the characters were “miserable.” She felt I had too much internal monologue going on with my protagonist and antagonist. She felt there should be more shared with regards to the sheriff, Wade Malone. And last, and worst of all, she said the story was too slow.
A lot of her feedback conflicted directly with the group of Test Readers.
When Jennifer Bowen of Book-Hive asked what the editor thought and I shared her feedback, she said, “Hmmm, well, maybe this wasn’t the story for this particular editor.”
I loved that. Still, I was faced with this new dilemma. With such differing opinions, what should I do with the story?
This was certainly a bit of a conundrum and the decision as to what changes I needed to make had me stalled for a while. Eventually, I cut some, (not all) of the internal monologue. Enough to satisfy my guilt over not taking everything the editor said to task. I then added in a couple of new scenes between Ruby/Haskell and Wade/Ruby based on the Book-Hive feedback. I tweaked the ending which was all of my own doing.
What has continued to pester me though is that one big thing the editor suggested I do – and didn’t. And that was to add that new POV narrative with the sheriff. This would have been a major re-write. It would have destroyed the structure of the story where, for the majority of the book, each chapter picks up where the other leaves off between my good guy (girl) and bad guy. Think maybe “duel” instead of “dual” narrative.
The other thing too, was, I hadn’t set out to write a crime novel. The story wasn’t about the investigation. It wasn’t as if I ignored the investigative tasks altogether. I actually had a Raleigh City police K9 detective who answered some of my questions about what a law enforcement person could or couldn’t do. I wrote about the sheriff’s initial interview with my protagonist. I detailed his interactions with my antagonist, and mostly, I showed his “work” on the “case,” with his interrogations via dialogue – twice with the antagonist and twice with the protagonist.
Still, if you’re like me, you begin to question every choice made about revisions once it’s out of your hands. Did I do the right thing? Should I have worked on it more, maybe written in that extra POV, if for not for any other reason than just to see if his voice would come through?
It’s scary stuff. Scary because it seems as if we’re always second guessing ourselves, asking the what if’s and what about’s once we let it go. It’s scary because we follow some advice while ignoring the rest, all the while not knowing if what we’ve ignored was spot on.
What do you do when you’ve had such diverse opinions?