Monday, December 19, 2011

How To Deal?

Not to long ago I was working on a YA manuscript with a lot of really good things about it. It must have had some bad things about it to, because some people liked this and hated that and other liked that but hated this. Slightly more than half felt one way about it, and slightly less than half felt the other way. It was frustrating and confusing, but I loved the manuscript and the slightly more than half felt the way I did about it so naturally I took the direction of the majority.

Now I'm working on an adult novel. I think this may be a one time thing for me, but either way I'm 14000 words into an adult manuscript. I thought the writing wasn't strong enough, so I sent it to my critique partner who's opinion I trust deeply. She wrote back that she didn't find the MC believable. (Her husband had an affair, and she's agreed to continue living with him so their daughter has both of her parents. They live in separate rooms but operate like a married couple other than that. Three years later her husband is trying to convince her to date him, but she turns him down). My CP thought that since she obviously still has feelings for him refusing to even date him after 3 years, but continuing to live with him, cook dinner, and pick up his dry cleaning was unbelievable. Her suggestion for making the MC believable would also make her someone I'm not willing to spend 300 pages with, and the kind of girl I'm not sure I want to write about. Even if I did want to write her like that I wouldn't know how, because it's not a perspective I can begin or even pretend to understand. And I think it changes the book significantly.

I sent the book to someone else with a worldview closer to my own. She found the premise completely believable but didn't think the MC was mad enough at her cheating husband. My CP says she's plenty mad. Maybe, too mad because it's three years later and she still won't even go out for coffee with her husband.

If they didn't like the same thing that would be easy. I would know either something needed to change, or I just shouldn't finish the book, because it's not a change I'm going to write. But since I'm getting conflicting advice I don't know what to do. It's frustrating. It makes me want to beat my head off a wall, and the same thing happened with the YA ms I last worked on. Since then, I wrote a book that I chose no to revise/query because it wasn't worth it. The feedback was stuff I already knew and it didn't matter, since I wasn't querying it. Then I got sixty something pages into another ms that I decided wasn't going in the right direction, so I threw in the towel. I'm fifty pages into this. I thought it was going in the right direction, and maybe with the clearest plot I'd ever worked out. (Characters and voice I'm good at, plot not so much). And the conflicting opinions are already rolling in. I don't know what to do. I really don't want to spend the time to finish another ms that's going to receive 105 rejections, and on the other hand I've already put a lot of work into this. I don't want to just leave it unfinished.

How do you deal with conflicting advice?


  1. Beth, you are 14K into this, right? You know the MC better than either CP you sent it to. So in a situation like this, go with your gut. It's your story. Your characters. The expert here is you. Put faith in yourself and tell the story you want to tell. I'm sure in the end, you'll do what's right for your characters. Good luck!

  2. If you are getting a sort of fifty-fifty love it-not believing it, then all bets are off. In that case, I'd go totally on my intuition. A writer's gut feelings are usually on-target. If you believe that this is the clearest story you've written, you probably have a point. Maybe send to a third party to read, if you are getting very polarized feedback and are wanting more opinions?