Going too far…

Well, Chapter two is winding up in the public queue and the feedback seems to be fairly unanimous.  I have a couple people to send my follow up question to, but I am confident of the answer anyway.  Maybe they can just answer here…

In the middle of the chapter, end of scene three, I made a pretty big change to the events.  At first, I felt I was selling out on what I thought had  to happen.  When I rewrote the section, it felt like a ‘Greedo shot first’ moment.  I was wrong.

In the new version there are two changes.  First, it is Terrent that she tries to heal, not Frederick.  Since Terrent was the only one that treated her respectfully, I thought it would have a slightly bigger impact.  The real change though is that in the new version, Terrent dies before Mirian reaches him.  She makes it to him, after much fearful hesitation, but not in time.

For comaprison, the original text:

—–

Terrent groaned. He was only about fifteen feet away. If I could get to him, I could save him. My vision tunnelled and my blood roared in my ears. I took a deep breath to clear my thoughts. I couldn’t heal if I couldn’t focus. I crawled toward him. Adrenaline made me light headed. Jordahn barked orders, and steel crashed together.

I was almost within reach when Jordahn yelled, “Where’s the healer? Someone get her before she escapes.”

I froze. My throat pinched shut. Terrent stared at me. It was too late. They were coming for me. I couldn’t stay. I had to go. His eyes widened. He reached a hand toward me. I shook my head. No. I can’t. No. “Aliyah forgive me.” My blood iced as I backed away, turned, and ran for the trees. My bag was on the cart. I snatched it as I bolted past.

—–

And the new version:

—–

Terrent coughed, spraying a mist of blood across the ground. He was still alive. If I could get to him, I could save him. My vision tunnelled and my blood roared in my ears. He lay about twenty feet away. I took a deep breath to clear my thoughts. I couldn’t heal if I couldn’t focus. I crawled toward him, pausing every few feet to make sure nobody watched. Adrenaline made me light headed. Jordahn barked orders, and steel crashed together.

I was almost within reach when Jordahn yelled, “Where’s the healer? Someone get her before she escapes.”

I froze. Fear crushed my throat closed. Terrent’s eyes glazed over. My legs refused to move. Derak looked back and pointed his sword toward me. I lunged forward. My fingers brushed his leg, and I poured energy into him. It was too late, his spirit was gone.

I couldn’t stay. I had to go. Derak walked toward me, grinning. No doubt thinking about breaking my neck. “Aliyah forgive me.” My blood iced as I backed away, turned, and ran. My bag was on the cart. I snatched it and bolted for the trees.

—–

After getting the feedback from others, I realize that this was the right thing to do.  Why?  Because too many readers had too strong of a negative reaction to Mirian when she abandoned him to die.

With the new version, I’ve sent some follow up questions to some of the readers asking about the change and whether they find her dislikeable.  I think that this chapter is her lowest point in the story, from a likability standpoint.  I find some of them actually defending her to me, telling me that I am being too hard on her.

That right there tells me it was the right thing to do.  Readers have attached to her enough to try to protect her.  What more could I possibly ask for?

–j–

 

 

4 thoughts on “Going too far…”

  1. Just followed that link, and I don’t think there’s any comparison to be made.

    In Star Wars, it was always clear that Han was about to die, imminently. I seem to recall an exchange along the lines of “over my dead body”…”that’s the general idea” (or words to that effect). I certainly never had any doubt that Han did the right thing by shooting first, and when I read this account of the changes made I was appalled at the blatant cowardly caving-in to political correctness.

    In your story, Mirian wasn’t under quite the same threat and had a genuine choice to make. I think you did the right thing.

  2. Yeah, but that was kind of my point. I was afraid I was caving in and letting her off the hook by having Terrent die before she ran away.

    I have to remember though that this part of the story needs to introduce her, but it also has to make people like her. Well, not like her, but connect to her enough to care whether she lives. Especially with scary branch snapping going on behind her! LOL.

    But you’re right. I think I did the right thing.

    –j–

  3. I like it. I like actually that you didn’t go over the top and make her TOO perfect. She still has that moment of hesitation and fear before trying to save him. That seems really realistic for anyone, and the outcome realistic as well.

    And it does make her more likable. Characters need to have flaws, but it’s a fine balance between making them unlikable and making them too perfect, as I think you’ve discovered in a few of mine. 😉

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