Monday, December 24, 2012

Writing for the reader or the story?

This is a topic that seems to become a stronger point with each book released in a series, as I'm finding out. With book one, there is little stress outside of whether or not readers will like it. By book two, readers have an idea of where they want the series to go, and you hope that they go along with it. When Book three comes around, readers are invested in the story, and each has a specific way they want the plot, characters, relationships, and story to go.

It seems like beating a dead horse to repeat that you cannot please every reader. As I'm closing out the first draft of Mageri Book 4, I get those butterflies once again. I see comments, reviews, and receive emails from readers who give me their opinions on characters, storyline, and direction. It becomes very evident that I will not be pleasing everyone. Some may be upset by the direction the series goes, while others are all for the ride and willing to go wherever I take them.

By no means am I giving up spoilers here, but it's quite a challenge to stand in the line of fire with every book release, and it only becomes more difficult with each book. The bottom line is that the story told itself. I can't explain how this process is done, only that while writing, it feels right. I hate to think that I'm playing God and deciding the fates of my characters, because in a strange way, they are deciding their own fates. There are times when I am upset or angered by a character or scene, or sometimes I'm bawling like a baby, but that's because I care about them. In a strange way, I love them because they're all a part of me, or maybe I kind of see them like children that sprang forth from my imagination onto the pages. It's tough to watch your kids get hurt, suffer loss, struggle, and find their way in life.

It's also difficult to watch others pick on your kids because of it.

It would seem like a cheat to complete rewrite something to please the masses (although, there is no way to even predict what the masses want). I could have removed Logan and kept the focus on Silver and Justus. I could have elevated Adam's position among his kind so that he had the perfect life. I could have left Sunny behind at the train station in book 1, so that her story would never be told. I could have made Silver a kickass, sword wielding, heartless heroine. I could have made her submissive to obey. I could have hooked her up with Simon in book 1 for realz.

The Mageri series is really a journey, and at some point, you just have to let go and trust. I may have lost readers by book two, who didn't like the Twist. And some might have fallen out after Impulse. It happens. But for those of you who will stay until the end, I hope that this world, these characters, and this story become closer to your heart. One that holds meaning.

Our lives will always be filled with obstacles, villains, heroes, love, loss, family, friends, tragedy, and joy. If the only purpose of a story is plot, I think that you miss out on the rich and textured lives of the characters. This is a character-driven series, and for the rest of their lives they will have outside influences trying to tear apart and take away what they have, but it's not about slaying the dragon. It's about holding your breath with tears on the edge of your lashes, praying that the dragonslayer makes it out alive. It's about caring for the characters.

At least, that's how I have written the books. With heart.

This series will always have a special place on my shelf because it was the first. I hope that each book and series that I release going forward will find a way on your shelves, and bring you laughter and tears. Because at the end of the day, I want readers to love the characters enough to feel their pain and share their joy.

I thought this video was a great example of how a song can be translated into emotions through a visual story.

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