I started my career writing romance novels, The Fictitious Marquis, Thieves at Heart, Annie's Wild Ride and When a Man Loves a Woman. I then transitioned into Figure Skating Mysteries, Murder on Ice, On Thin Ice, Axel of Evil, Death Drop and Skate Crime.
The sequence of events for all of the above was straight-forward. I wrote a proposal, an editor signed off on it, I wrote a book, an editor recommended changes, I made changes, book was published, readers weighed in.
When I wrote the soap-opera tie-ins, As the World Turns' Oakdale Confidential and The Man From Oakdale, as well as co-wrote Guiding Light's Jonathan's Story, there were more voices chiming in, the shows' writers and producers, for instance. But because, at the same time, I was also producing ATWT and GL's official websites, I listened to the fans, as well. Incorporating characters no longer on the canvas that they missed, referencing history and putting in scenes viewers wished they could watch on air.
By the time I moved on to Another World Today for P&G, I was ending every webisode with a poll question and, depending on how readers voted, that's how the story would go.
This taught me a very important lesson. Despite soap fans insisting that, if only TPTB would listen to them and give them what they want the ratings would go through the roof, there is no such thing as an issue every single fan agrees on. Every single poll question I put up, no matter how seemingly benign, would trigger a variety of responses. Characters and couples some people loved, others hated - and vice-versa.
So here I am today, attempting to take everything I've learned from twenty years of writing novels and soaps and interactive series and putting them all together into my next book, which I am writing live in front of readers eyes at: http://alinaadamsmedia.com/live/.
I am asking for reader suggestions as I go along, and so far:
One reader writes: I am thinking ahead already and believe that Laurie will be the victim of abuse (molestations, sexual, etc.).
While another concurs: My mind is going in one direction!!!! Oh no!!!! Will she be abused by this man???
And a third adds: I don’t think he’s going to abuse her. I think it’s more likely that she’ll be happy with him and finally have a stable life, then Junior and Mom will rip her away from a good home.
While these were more predictions rather than directions, it does go to show how different readers can see the same story in different ways.
I can assure the first two commentators that the lead charachter will not be abused. Why? Because I find child sexual abuse boring.
Not in real life. In real life I find it horrifying.
But in fiction, I find it a boring and lazy way to brand one character an unequivocal victim and the other a degenerate villian. Roman Polanski once said that the reason he added the incest angle to his movie, Chinatown, was because it was the only thing that still shocked Americans. That may have been true in the 1970s, but these days, in my opinion, it's short-cut storytelling at its worst.
There is nothing subtle about it. It beats you over the head with good and bad, black and white. That doesn't interest me as a reader, and it doesn't interest me as a writer.
Frankly, I think there is so much more interesting damage a parent or guardian can do to a child without resorting to sexual or even physical abuse. Most of the time, the damage is done without even realizing it. And certainly with the belief that what they are doing is for the child's own good.
Those are the kinds of psychologically complex stories I am interested in both reading and writing. I'm trying to do that now. But I'll only know if I've succeeded if you continue commenting on my story as I spin it.
So please, stop by: http://alinaadamsmedia.com/live/ and let me know what you think.
After all, in this day and age, why should someone have to wait for a book to be published before telling the author what's wrong with it?