Can Readers Tell If You Struggled?

Mine can…sometimes.

I believe that’s a reflection of my skill–I need to practise writing scenes that I would find difficult (like straight-forward romance).

There’s a scene that I’ve written for Wanderer… it’s the third chapter for a character (Daeson) that I’d initially struggled to write for because I “lost his voice”. (I don’t know if you get what I mean by that, but that’s the best way I know how to describe it). So I’d written these first two chapters for him a while back, and I didn’t mind them, but they were too reflective for chapters one and two. I didn’t want to start the book with reflection, I wanted discovery and action. So I rewrote them. They ended up becoming two chapters I was happy with. A rare treat for me.

head-in-handsThen the dreaded third chapter. (The way the book is formatted with multiple characters, Daeson’s third chapter is somewhere around chapter ten or eleven). It had to capture a mood of indecision. It had to capture a mood of wonder and suspicion. It had to feel like Daeson was about to do something very important while he didn’t understand what it was. The readers are likely to understand what he sees (the Portal) while he doesn’t–only because they’ve read the blurb. It doesn’t matter if they know…the point is, I have to write a detailed mixed reaction.

So I struggled with it. My first attempt I felt as though my pace was too slow. So I changed how it started. Then the pace was way too fast and I was skipping over all the fascination and fear of the unknown. So I started again. With a lot of thinking, I came up with what I still believe is the best way to represent all those feelings–but I struggled to write it. The scene unfolded well enough, I just had to push it through. As a result, one of my beta readers (my husband, he’s the reader to which I have quick access) has read that scene and said to me: “Who writes for Daeson? That last chapter was erratic.”

As soon as I heard that, I knew the chapter he meant. When I looked, my suspicion was confirmed. It was THAT chapter. It had been edited by me many times, read through and edited by my co-writer, but there’s something about it still…I knew it but thought I was being too picky. I find it hard at times to judge my work. When it’s good, I can tell. When it’s bad, I can tell. When it’s a struggle, I never know if what I’ve done is okay or not. I give it to other writers and readers and they either pick holes in it or they say it’s really good. Because the outcome isn’t consistent, it’s difficult for me to know if my results are good or not.

I really dislike it when I can’t tell. I would prefer to know it was bad than not be able to tell either way. At least I can just rewrite it rather than continue to faddle around with it.

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