Sometimes we, as authors, simply must open our minds and hearts to honest criticism.
Yes, our books are our babies…but then, sometimes we look at our children and don’t see them as clearly as we should, right?
I received a critique from a valued beta reader about a MC, let’s call him Joe, in a recent New Adult novel. It went something like this: “I. HATE. HIM.” This is a strong message.
Maybe, I thought, Joe is tragically misunderstood. After all, he means well—and hey, everybody makes mistakes. Right?
As it turns out, NO. I was wrong.
There are certain things a character can do—no matter how strong, handsome, and well-intentioned he may be—that WILL NOT be forgiven by readers. According to an editor I trust, Joe did these things. His fear of what other people thought of him was not conducive to romance. She actually wished that Joe and his love interest would not get together in the end. This is not what I was going for.
So when your trusted readers and editors tell you something… it’s a very good idea to listen to them.
I rewrote Joe. He’s still kinda selfish and the maker of multiple mistakes. But I toned down his worst characteristics and pumped up his sweetness so in the end, when he was contrite and begging for forgiveness, readers would not be shouting, “DON’T FORGIVE THE JERK!”
In conclusion, I like to say to my beta reader: “Kevin knows best.” And he does. He really does.