It’s Reassuring to Know My Instincts Were Right

My manuscript for my debut novel, Rose Coloured Houses has come back from the editor with very encouraging remarks.

Rose-Coloured Houses is an insightful and thoughtful exploration of life with an emotionally abusive parent. You do a masterful job of weaving a story around Peggy and Charles that includes both points of view—it’s not often that we get a story from the “villain’s” perspective in a way that works as well as yours does.

You paint a picture of an abusive parent without ever resorting to physical or sexual abuse (with the exception of a few slaps). Many writers take a lazier approach to creating “bad” men by having them assault women, but you make Charles and your other characters much more interesting.”

She also said an entire chapter should be deleted. This chapter had been the bane of my existence. For two years I researched, asked for help, asked hundreds of questions. I avoided writing it for months at a time. I really disliked writing it.

The other section that, for me, doesn’t work is the chapter summarizing Donald and Edward’s lives. While they are certainly important characters, this is not a story about them… therefore we don’t need a long chapter that describes everything else that happens to them, too.

I thought I had finished the book and gave it to several people to beta read it. A couple of comments from the readers indicated that they wanted to know more about two of secondary characters. I really didn’t want to delve into what happened to them. They joined the navy and I knew nothing about the navy.

Finally, I set a goal to finish this chapter and therefore have my novel completed and ready for edit. I felt relieved and proud to have persevered against such a challenge.

It’s reassuring that my first instincts were correct but I’ll never get those two years of stressing, researching, avoiding and writing back. I think I may use the material in a short story. Even though it doesn’t fit my book, it will be published in another form.

A similar thing happened when writing Not My Story to Tell. I had finished the manuscript and a beta reader suggested I add a few more chapters. I did. The editor said they didn’t fit my thesis. Now those chapters make up part of the follow-up companion book JUSTINE. It all turned out fine in the end.

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