Environment, Capitalism, and Religious Hypocrisy are major themes running through my WIP, a work my publisher’s team of editors recently returned with ‘edit notes’. This wasn’t the usual ‘line edit’ I’ve had in the past and, on reading the notes, I was initially taken aback. My first response was that the problems they perceived came from a seriously subjective point of view. I was angered, surprised, and disappointed. Of course, when I gave myself a couple of days to decide how to respond, I realised I’d misread their intention and their findings. What was being pointed out to me was the probable response of many potential readers; rejection of the ideas expressed.
As writers, we have a responsibility to research deeply into topics we feature in our work, to present truth as accurately as we may. But this doesn’t mean we must write only what’s accepted as fact with no regard for the attitudes, opinions, and experiences of our characters. Clearly, if we’re to reflect these created beings as three-dimensional, relatable, credible characters, we must inhabit the thoughts, lives, and hearts of all of them. But when we thread themes through our work, it’s essential to our integrity we speak the truths we’ve found, rather than take the easy road of popular opinion. It can be a difficult balance.
The three themes mentioned above are contentious and open to widely opposing views. Did I want to alienate a good proportion of my potential readership by presenting my protagonist as so fiercely opinionated she failed to take account of the feelings, views, and attitudes of the small group of characters she finds herself trapped with? It was this my editors were trying to help me avoid.
It was clear I’d allowed personal passions and convictions to seep into my narrative character. Much of the correction needed to bring her into a more rounded and sympathetic figure was to do with presentation. The story’s narrated in the first person from her point of view, so I was able to delete some text completely, and to alter other parts to her private thoughts rather than her strongly professed opinions. The finished result is a much better story, unlikely to deter other than readers with firmly closed minds. And, to be frank, I have no interest in such dogmatic types.
So, I now await the ‘line edit’, which I hope will be as brief and specific as has been the case with my other books.
And the title of the new work? On that I’m indulging in a tease. Once the final edit is agreed, I’ll reveal it. Watch this space, as they say.