Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Differences In Opinion...

I got my latest contest results back. Didn't final this time, but was ninth out of 42 entries, so don't feel too sad about it all.

What intrigued me was the incredible difference in scores I received. There have been discussions on one of my contest loops lately about judging - and how judges are still just people with opinions and likes and dislikes, and that all comes through when they read your story.

Clearly this happened with mine. A writing friend (Hi C!) warned me that my heroine's odd pet could be a deal breaker for some readers. Camilla has a pet rat named Maynard (along with two dogs) and this is probably high on the "eeewwww" factor for many people (especially women).

Two of my judges loved my writing and gave me really high scores and enthusiastic feedback.

The other? Pretty much hated it. Wrote "Oh Gross" where Maynard was introduced and told me that a heroine who wore lacy underwear and steel toed boots wasn't believable (especially since she let a rat "crawl all over her"). Compared her to Elly May Clampett.


This made me wonder if, on the off chance that Maynard would repulse potential editors or agents, I should change him into something a little cuter - a parakeet or even a hamster (which, honestly, are lousy pets).

But, you know, I think you need to write what's in your heart and in your head. It may take me forever to get published, and Camilla may never be... but, dang it, she owns a rat, wears lacy underwear and works knee deep in cow poop sometimes and that's the way it is.

Unbelievable? Considering that I've walked in Camilla's shoes - lacy underwear, poop, rats and all, I beg to differ.


Matt Getty said...

I think you're right to keep the rat. In my opinion, it's the odd, slightly off-putting details that actually make characters seem real. Somehow the more common, run-of-the-mill, "realistic" details make them seem less so.

AE Rought said...

Um... I had a rat. Does that make ME gross? (Won't go into the underwear and the rest though -- we have to have some secrets!) My rat used to sit on my shoulder, peeking out from my hair. I loved her, and I say keep your rat!

Like my post on RTB brought up, you can't write to please everyone, or you will please no one, least of all, yourself.

Good louck!