So, yesterday I had a nice long chat with one of my beta-readers about A Parliament of Bodies. Yes, she gets to read it a year before the rest of you, but what she reads is an imperfect draft. And we talked a bit about what happens in the book versus what her expectations as a fan were, and how either fulfilling or subverting those expectations result in reader satisfaction.
Because sometimes there is an urge to ignore what the story needs to give the fans “what they want”. And, I’m against doing that for two reasons. One, I’m kind of a believer in that old Joss Whedon quote about not giving them what they want, but what they need. This quote is sometimes treated with derision, in that people complain, “Oh, [Bad Plot Point] is what we ‘needed’?” I can understand that to a degree, especially when plots make characters suffer, characters the readers care about. They don’t want to see them suffer, because they want Good Things for the characters.
But my job is, a sJ. Michael Straczynski so eloquently put it once, to chase them up a tree and throw rocks at them.
The second reason I’m against changing with the winds of fandom desires is simple. When it comes to Maradaine (or any other world of mine) and the characters within that world, no one is going to be more of a fan than me. I love this setting, these people, and their story so much, and I hope that love comes through in what I’m writing. It hurts me when bad things happen to them, but I also know… that’s the path they’re all on.
So what does that mean?
It means that I’m that #1 Fan, so I’m the one who gets to tie myself to a bed and break my own legs if I don’t do right by the story.
So now I need to get back to work. There’s a certain fanboy who insists that I clean up this manuscript. See you in the word mines.