Sunday, January 15

Getting in more reviews for Heart's Home

And by and large, no one has said anything I disagree with, even when they've had some negative things to say. There were some parts of it that I wish I had done differently.

I also know that no one can please all of the people all of the time... which is why one of the comments I've gotten (a couple of times now) has... well, bothered is the wrong word. It's made me feel a bit confused.

When I was writing fanfiction more steadily and getting lots and lots of feedback from readers, one of the things that I heard a LOT of was "it's really annoying when you use the characters' names every other sentence. You need to come up with other identifiers. How about things like 'the other man', or 'the younger man' or 'the older man' or the 'blond'?"

Then I heard from my beta reader that she felt "the other man" was cold and distant. But the others were okay.

Now I'm hearing from readers: "I hate it when authors use 'the older man, the younger man, the blond, the Welshman, the lycan', etc.--really, I GET IT already! He's a lycan, older, younger, etc.  Why can't authors just use the characters' names?!"  Here's a link to the latest review (and please note that I "like" it, because I appreciate the reviewer's honesty...but it hurts that now other readers are being put off my book, even though I guess if they wouldn't like it, it's better that they didn't read it...

Anyway, to answer the question about why don't I just use the characters' names:  Because other readers told me not to.

Believe me, it is sooooo much easier to say Jim slapped Bob and then kissed Bob with naked, unabashed passion, than it is to say Jim slapped his French lycanthropic lover, then reached over and grabbed the back of his blond-haired head and kissed the daylights out of the younger man. It requires a lot less creativity to just use their names. Honestly, I am not that I'm trying to beat readers over the head with the fact that Jim is older than Bob and that Bob is a French werewolf with a blond crew cut. I get it that readers are smart and that they don't forget these details. I'm just struggling to come up with better ways to indicate which he is he. (It becomes increasingly difficult when both characters are "red-blooded American males humans".)

It is a little difficult on the ego to take a "hit" for doing what others have told me is the "right" thing to do. Are fanfiction readers just more inclined to like alternatives to names than non-fanfic readers? (For all it's worth, not a single editor had a problem with older/younger/blonder/Frencher...well, they would probably have a problem with "Frencher".) Or is it just that my work is now coming into the hands of a broader audience?

The best thing (other than just getting back to writing and not worrying about it) might be to try and find some sort of middle ground. I really does bother me when someone who might otherwise enjoy something I've written isn't able to finish the book because of tags and identifies. I want everybody to love my stories! (Which I know isn't going to happen, but I'd hate for the only reason someone hated it was details that are within my comfort zone to change/fix).

As always, I welcome thoughts...


Jon said...

Simple but clear. That, I think is the only attribution rule that writers need to remember. Personal pronouns are not your enemy.
If we know that two people are alone in a room, and we know their names, why not say,
"Bob kissed him, and kissed him hard. He had to show him how he felt."
"Calvin was so overwhelmed he barely had time to react to him."
Use names or short cut attributions only when the reader might lose track of who is ravishing whom. In my humble, rarely-published opinion.

eleeri said...

I did not notice a problem with this in either your fanfiction or in Heart's Home. I think you should deal with identifiers in a way that suits you, you will never be able to please everyone. As long as it is clear and consistent, you should be fine.

P.S. I really do love Heart's Home and would be interested if you come up with a sequel. :-)