Monday, May 04, 2015

Editor's/Reader's Perceptions

I always take something away from edits on my stories and sometimes it's not what I expected at all. Usually I kind of can tell when I have an issue with some part of the story or where I think I didn't give enough page time to certain parts of the action. When the editor tells me I need to beef up a section, I can pretty much predict that I was going to get pinged in that part. LOL

The things that make me shake my head and say, "Hmmm, I never thought of that" are things the reader/editor takes from their own life experiences.  I have a couple of examples to share.

In a story I have that is no longer (yet) available since the publisher closed, the hero's name is Jackson Hughes. Having early on decided that the hero was going to be the brother of a hero in another story, I had his last name already in my head. As I was writing, though, I needed a first name for him. The heroine doesn't know his name for a while so I didn't start the story knowing what it was. When it came time for him to tell her his name, I glanced around my living room at the horde of teenage boys hanging out with my son and picked his pal, Jackson. It was a good name to go with Hughes so I nabbed it.

Imagine my shock when I got my edits back and the editor commented, "Is he supposed to be Hugh Jackman?"  HUH??  I confess, I had to think about think about that for a minute before it sunk in.  Nope, I totally DID NOT have Wolverine in my head when I wrote this story. I had to laugh when I wondered how many readers would hit on the same thing.

On another recent story- one that I am working on edits right now on- I gave the villain the last name of Bates. I did this because I had been dealing with a lawyer with that last name in my day job and he was driving me crazy calling me. When I got the comment from the editor, "Great reference to Bates Motel" - I laughed aloud. Again, I never even thought of that. I needed a last name and this one was at the forefront of my brain so I grabbed it. I DO hope readers make this connection because that would be awesome cool. What "badder"  bad guy is there than Norman Bates in Psycho?

What about you? Anything you've seen as a reader that you wonder if the author had double meaning? Or you as an author didn't intend but readers/editors took away from your work?

OH, and since it's May 4th, May the Fourth be with you! 


Heather said...

This reminds of an interview I saw Jerry O'Connell give. He was discussing his time at NYU film school, and the professor was analyzing "Stand by Me." O'Connell interjected, when the the professor was discussing the director's use of symbolism, "I can promise you Rob Reiner never used the words 'Christ figure' in directing us."

The great thing with art and literature is that just like a Rorschach test, we all see what we want and need to see, even if it isn't the same.

Callie James said...

One review stands out for me for Student Bodyguard for Hire. Keep in mind I wrote my book Innocent first. I have a character named Martin Winchester in Innocent--the protag's stepdad. He owns his own autobody shop and when I came up with the name Winchester Auto, it was simply because of his last name. When I wrote Student Bodyguard for Hire, I did a search on common male Hispanic names. One was Samuel, and I wanted a full name I could shorten to give the feeling of familiarity when people used it. Sam. I then chose to give this character an old car, but I wanted to choose an old car that didn't have a console in the middle of the front seat (I had a few make-out scenes in mind for my two YA characters). So I chose an Impala. Well, one reviewer who read Student Bodyguard for Hire thought I was referencing the "Supernatural" show because I used the name Sam (main character on Supernatural), Winchester (main characters' last name on Supernatural) and their famous Impala (hello, no console separating the front seat--completely the only reason I chose that car). So the reasons she chose to associate my book with that show were complete coincidence. She didn't even like my book, but she did say she liked the references to Supernatural. Sure. Okay. Whatever works for you. Ha!

Jillian said...

Lol Callie. That's a great story. I'd be in the same boat since I don't watch that show either.

I agree, Heather. I love that Jerry O'Connell reference too. I've taken many a lit class where the professor said stuff that I was dumbfounded over. Lol.

Suzanne Johnson said...

Ha--it's happened several times. When RIVER ROAD came out readers kept talking about a "love quadrangle" and I SWEAR the merman and the pirate were never serious romantic contenders. But readers have kept at it so long I'm actually, two books later, thinking...well, maybe so....

Carla Swafford said...

I have an old manuscript that a friend edited a few chapters for me. She asked me in full seriousness about a secondary character, "Is Ben gay?"

Well, I immediately changed his first name. LOL! And yes, he is.

Funny how that can happen.

Ali Hubbard said...

I'm loving all these stories! Great post!

Jillian said...

Lol Carla. That is hilarious. Love it.

And Suzanne, that is funny how the readers may be influencing things in books down the line. Cool.

Thanks, Ali. And I'm digging the stories, too.