Oh. Oh no.
Y’guys, I got my first meh response from my editor regarding one of the chapters I submitted earlier this month. When the time came to get his feedback on it, he said, “So, tell me about this chapter. Why is it written from a different character’s point-of-view halfway through the book? And what does it do to advance the plot?”
I took a breath.
The chapter in question is a break from the narrative and centers around another character rather than the lead protagonist (who happens to be female). This character, who is not new to the reader and has been developed over the course of fifteen previous chapters, is serving two functions at this point in time:
- He’s giving the reader a chance to see the protagonist from a different narrative angle, which builds the relationship between the two a little more, and
- His POV gives the reader a breather because the rest of events in the book are going to be grim and unpleasant. Granted, the chapter in question isn’t sunshine and rainbows, but it’s a lighter turn before the nosedive.
I reiterated that as best as I could to my editor. He thought for a moment and said, “Sure. But if you took it out, the book could still work, right?”
I paused. “Goddamn it.”
This is a Kill Your Darlings scenario: an author writes something she’s proud of but learns it’s just not going to work. Sure, there are elements to the chapter my editor liked, but they can be melded into later or earlier chapters. The rest of the chapter can be cut completely and I’d still have a book with no damage done to the overall narrative.
Does this hurt? I’m not going to lie, but it stings a bit. I feel like I did not accomplish my goal with this chapter. Ultimately, the job of the writer is to come up with these creative ideas while the editor sifts through to tell them what does and doesn’t work. A lot of inexperienced writers let ego get in the way and would feel more slighted at this part of the writing process, but the truth of the matter is this: sometimes, creative endeavors just don’t work out. When they’re writing projects, you can either get hurt or you can salvage what you can from the project and move on.
Better yet, you can take what doesn’t work out and turn it into something new.
So chapter 3 of part 3 is in R&R status — and I don’t mean rest and relaxation. When I go back to it, I’ll have another chapter written instead. I’ve already submitted the outline for it to my editor (he hasn’t responded), so we’ll see what happens.
Next steps: keep moving forward! I started chapter 1 of part 4 this month (now that I’ve recovered from my surgery; yes I’ll be writing the second half of that experience too) and it’s going to be the falling action I described.
Still not sure I’m going to get through everything this year, but here’s hoping!