Tuesday, November 1

I Can't Help But Speak Up

I want to take a moment to explain a few things, because frankly, I'm tired of people commenting on the issue of a few things that pop up in Spiral X. I don't want to accuse people of not paying attention, but it's clear that people aren't paying attention. If you haven't read Spiral X, then some of this might be spoilery so proceed with caution if you don't like that sort of thing.

Quick note before I get started though. I do appreciate any and all comments on Spiral X, Split, and The Plan (actually, skip The Plan, I know it isn't that good). However, I've received enough specific comments through reviews on one or two issues that I feel they need to be addressed.

1. On the subject of Cheryl's sudden revelation of psychic powers.

This is why I think people aren't paying attention. It first shows up in Chapter 7, and also coincides with the first time she runs into vampires! Tell me, at what point before then was it supposed to come up? Read the first 6 chapters and tell me exactly where that would fit and seem like it was appropriate to bring up at the time. Go on, I'll wait. Nothing? Thought so. My guess, based upon the general comment of it "showing up halfway through the novel", is that people are missing the mention of it during the encounter in chapter 7 and are instead focusing on when it shows up again (incidentally, the second encounter with vampires) in chapter 12. So really, the point here is that it shows up a lot earlier than I think people are realizing, but they're not paying attention and are missing it.

2. On the subject of Cheryl's hypocrisy.

It's deliberate. Very deliberate. I want to make it clear that Cheryl is a flawed person through and through. She's inconsistent. She's human. This really comes out in the second book but it's still on display in Spiral X. I do this for a few reasons. One, I don't like perfect heroes or heroes that appear to be flawed but really aren't. Anita Blake, for instance, is a fake flawed heroine. She was truly flawed at first but she hasn't felt like a real person since her vagina started being able to solve the world's problems. Harry Dresden, however, is a flawed hero. He routinely does things with seem right and jive with his morals, but which ultimately prove how human he is. I will always strive for the latter.

Let me ask you something. Have you ever had an epiphany? Like, even a minor one? Where you're sitting there trying to figure something out and all of a sudden it comes to you and makes perfect sense? Now, think about chapter 4, which deals with Cheryl's break-up with Thom. Doesn't it seem like she has something of an epiphany? I know it's not explicitely pointed out, but her actions (which follow the path of a lot of her actions, being impulsive and emotional (i.e. human)) clearly follow the lines of someone who suddenly put something together. In Cheryl's case, it was the revelation that trust is impossible for her in a relationship. It took someone else's break in trust for her to realize that this was going to be an issue with her, and ultimately forces her to push Thom away even though she might not want to.

3. Subplots

Speaking of Thom, I read a comment on a review blog that talked about how he could have been cut out and wouldn't have been missed. Allow me to put on my writer hat here for a moment and explain a few things. Within a book there is generally one main plot and a couple of subplots that tie back directly to the main plot. Thom is a subplot and he impacts the main plot fairly significantly. He shows up and affects things in chapter 4. He shows up again about ten chapters later and again has something of an impact. The payoff, however, doesn't come until just about the three-quarters mark of the book. The events that occur in that last meeting have a significant impact on what happens in the chapters that follow. If Thom isn't in the book, those events don't happen (or at the very least I have to figure out a new way to make them happen).

So, analyzing the ripples of the Thom pebble in the pool that is Spiral X shows that, 1) He has caused Cheryl to realize that true relationships are nearly impossible for her, and 2) Is the cause of one major death plus has a psychological impact that will extend beyond Spiral X. So no, Thom wasn't just a throwaway character. His subplot is very important, both for Spiral X and going forward.

4. Showing Vs. Telling.

I'll be the first to admit that I have work to do as a writer in this area. There is a balance to be had here though, and while I know I tilted too far into the telling direction, I figure there's enough showing to go around. In fact, in a few articles about the book that mention this I've had some hypocrisy pop up from the reviewer. They'll chide me for telling too much and then later comment on something they didn't understand because I didn't explicitely point it out for them. You can't have it both ways you know.

5. The stigma of an independent writer

On the whole I think I'm fighting a rear-guard action by going this route with my writing. When someone picks up my book, assuming they know I'm an independent author, they go in looking for problems. Instead of simply reading the book and enjoying it for what it is (which, if the 4+ star aggregate review from GoodReads, Amazon, and B&N are to be trusted, is damn good), they're actively wanting it to fail. Plus, right now the genre Spiral X fits in happens to be overrun by romance and Skinemax level erotica, so it's a double whammy because the people most likely to independently review it might be looking for something else going in. Heck, I've had reviewers actively say it was nice to read something other than romance in this genre, but then go on to make comments in the review that clearly indicate they were hoping to read a romance novel. Can't win.

Final comments.

As stated early, I accept any and all comments on my writing. However, I dismiss the majority of them because they focus on aspects that are intentional within the book, such as Cheryl's hypocrisy. The mechanical ones I do pay attention to, if only to know what I need to focus on the next time around. I know Spiral X has flaws, but despite those flaws it is proving to be an enjoyable read to many people. In the end, the only person I'm truly trying to please with my writing is myself. The final verdict from me is that Spiral X is good, but not great. I will strive for the latter but hitting the former isn't exactly a bad place to land, all things considered.