I’m currently trying to think of a title for my latest story.
(I sometimes take the easy route and just name them after the main character, but you can only do that so many times. Plus, this one seems to need a powerful title. I just don’t know what title that will be.)
While my mind is working on that, I figured I’d blog a bit about this story and having faith in myself.
I believe in the story. I do. But it hasn’t received rave reviews from my betas.
I’ve had four people read it.
One really liked the story concept.
One said they started skimming by the end because they didn’t see enough character development.
One called it porn (even though there are no explicit sex scenes in the whole story).
And one gave me back line edits without any comment on the story.
So, not exactly glowing reviews.
But it’s also probably the darkest story I’ve written to-date.
Now, I can take those reactions and decide that it’s a shitty story and I didn’t execute it the way I wanted to, throw it in a dark hole, and move on.
I can convince myself that part of the issue is the subject matter and the fact that I know my betas personally and that they weren’t just reading the story as neutral readers but as people who know me.
And I think when that happens there’s always a temptation to wonder what it was about the author’s life that led them to write that particular story.
(In this instance it was my observation that so many people seem to give up their will to others and wondering why that is and what it feels like after when the person is once again alone. And about that conflict when you’re a teenager between who your parents want you to be and who you’re becoming and how you can’t be both. And about how some people so strongly want to believe that you’re one thing that it’s impossible to make them see who you really are.)
I think at some point as a writer you have to follow your gut even if no one else sees in your story what you do.
Which means I’m going to ignore the fact that they didn’t really like the story.
I know. That completely defeats the purpose of betas.
But sometimes a story isn’t the right fit for a reader.
(Or a reader brings in something from their own experience that you could never foresee. Porn? Really?)
I figure I’m happy that my betas gave me some grammatical edits and two pointed out some believability issues that I’ve fixed, but this story is really for a different audience.
So, it’s there and it’s ready to go. And I’m not going to bury it just yet.
I’m going to try a few of the darker spec fic markets and see what they think.
Now. This is also what makes the decision to self-publish some short stories very scary. Because if the pro markets don’t want it and I self-pub it, there’s no one to put up a hand and say “You do not want to publish this. Trust me.”
Well, the pro markets don’t say that. They just reject the story. But a rejection has the same result if that’s the only path you’re willing to follow.
With the self-publishing route, though…
There’s much more likelihood of putting something out there that should not be put out.
Then again…What I write is tame compared to some of the stuff I’ve seen or read lately.
(I would mention specifics, but don’t want to attract any blog hits by someone searching for those things…)
I’m going to submit the story even though my betas were lukewarm on it. We’ll see how it goes…
Chances are I’ll be self-pubbing this one six months from now.
(Hubris. It will bite me in the ass some day.)
Maybe you would have gotten better reviews from your betas/friends if you had told them up front about the darkness of your theme/plot/story? I can understand your disbelief in their negative responses. Sometimes, more often than not, a friend will read in between the lines, whether it be a written story or a conversation; and, in doing so, they misinterpret the whole thing.
Oh, I did warn them in advance that it was dark.
And it’s not that I disbelieved their responses. I fully expected them to question the story to some extent.
I simply decided that just because they didn’t love it, didn’t mean it wasn’t a perfectly good story for another audience.
Basically, what I was trying to say in the post is that I don’t wait for everyone to enthusiastically love a story before I decide it’s worth subbing. I’d never sub if I did.
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