Last month my wife gave me an amazing gift, one that any writer would covet. She read my manuscript. Writers know this is a huge investment of time that concludes with her being willing to offer the critique and weather whatever insecure and defensive responses I happened to muster. Years ago, I read an article that advised against expecting your family to read your work if you want to be a happy writer. I’m not sure I’ve ever asked her to read anything I’ve written before, but this MS was perhaps the most personal thing I’ve put on paper.
Waiting her to finish the novel was excruciating. She was mostly tight-lipped until she finished. She offered an “it’s good”, a long list of typos, and her assessment the ending didn’t work. Not at all.
Amy has earned the right to be heard when it comes to story structure. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve watched a television show and she guesses the ending and then offers a superior plot to what an entire conference room of Hollywood writers could offer. Who was I to think I’d fare any better?
The gift of her complaint with the book is that I had my two central characters make a tragic moral compromise, but only made one of them desperate enough to sell his soul. His girl friend is a willing accomplice to his plot, but up to this point, all of her experiences and morals would lead the reader to expect better of her. Her corruption wasn’t believable.
The problem was that I’d only thrown one character down the proverbial flight of stairs. That’s not completely true. Isis, the character in question, has a backstory filled with family dysfunction. But that was long ago, and those experienced shaped her to be vehemently opposed to what I need her to do to complete story.
The solution is for me to open the novel up and construct a long flight of stairs to toss both characters down. So disregard my earlier post about getting ready for Query Shark.
More immediate work lies ahead of me.