The Terror of Having Your Work Read
Terror? I thought the whole idea was to get your book read.
Well, last weekend, August 31 through Sep 4, I attended the CoKoCon in Phoenix, AZ. It’s a great little con and I like little cons. Phoenix was also hot, but some of the rooms were so cold that only the editor from Canada was comfortable.
One of the talks given at the Con was by four editors that offered a chance to get a couple of pages of my story read. I’m game.
I figured that there would not be many people attending the talk. Instead there was a hand full of authors there. Six of us handed pages in to be read. I also thought that an editor would take my pages and read them then hand the pages off to the next editor.
The editors had done a panel like this in the past and had one editor read the pages out loud and then all four would comment on what was read.
Of course the authors having their pages read identified themselves as their pages were read. My pages were the last ones to get read, so there was no hiding for me.
That’s the terrorizing part. The pages I handed in were gritty. Having them read out loud to a group of people, I was terrified that someone would get offended. All the editors and most of the people in the room were female. Nothing wrong with that except my story starts off with a woman getting beaten with a riding crop. Don’t worry the guy doing the beating get his head blown off on page five. But then they only got to page four.
As a writer I failed. I failed to communicate clearly. Three of the editors were not clear if the woman getting beaten was enjoying it or being paid to get beaten. She wasn’t either of those things, she was going to be beaten to death until another character interrupts and saves her. Now I’m worried that I don’t understand the editors or my target audience.
Also, on page one, in line two I had the wrong word in the sentence. It was spelled right but it was not the word it should have been. I wanted to hide under the chair when the editor reading the story hit that word. She was good and figured out the right word and kept on reading instead of laughing. Let’s hear it for professionals. A professional like an editor that can read a story out loud, make corrections as she reads, and not miss a beat.
I got dinged for jumping POV’s (Point Of Views). I can’t figure out any other way to tell the story.
After the talk I got some one on one time with the editor that read the story outside the ice box like conference room. When I explained that the heroine of the story was not in chapter one she said that chapter one should be a prologue. Then later she said that she doesn’t read prologues and jumps to the first chapter.
Dog gone it all. My writing group complained that I needed that chapter one to explain the murder that occurred before the heroine was sent to the crime scene. I can’t make anyone happy. The editor suggested I put chapter one in a flashback. My writing group would throw a fit if I did that.
What am I going to do?
Rewrite. And rewrite again. I’ve been rewriting this book for months and I can’t get the first four pages past an editor or even one out of four editors.
The good news is two of the editors said they would continue to read the story based on what they had heard. That is better than a couple of the poor authors that got told by one editor or a couple of them that they would stop after the first couple of pages.
So it’s rewrite a bunch more times, and I got to find better Beta Readers.
Stay strong, write on, and rewrite over and over again.
Professor Hyram Voltage
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