WHEN SOMEONE CRITICIZES YOUR HERO – OR HEROINE
I’ve been taken to task for reading/writing trashy books such as mysteries or romances, for working on more than one book at a time, and for any number of wrong, according to the criticizer, practices, none of which I’ve ever given up. In other words, I don’t listen to that.
I used to stutter and stammer an apology, but that’s a thing of the past. To be a writer, one has to develop a thick skin, and by now, mine should rival that of an alligator.
The criticism I received a few days ago was of a different variety. An acquaintance of mine, a senior citizen, telephoned me, told me she loved my book (Murder by Mistake, book 1 in the Mollie Fenwick Mystery Series). She then proceeded to say, “I’m really surprised at you.”
Now, having just heard she loved my book, I waited for what I thought would be further praise, even though, as I now recall, her tone didn’t indicate such. What she did was to take me to task because Mollie, my protagonist, ‘looks at men’s butts.’ That’s exactly the way she put it.
While I’m a senior citizen, Mollie is in her thirties, single and enjoys the company of men. There are two heroes in this first book and like many real women, she notices them. (So do I, and I expect I’ll do so until I kick the bucket.) First she asked me why I made her like that, and second, she asked if I really had thoughts like that.
I had to think fast to come up with an answer that wasn’t an apology, so what I said was, “Mollie’s young, and I had to tap into my younger inner self in order to write her.”
As I think about this, I realize the woman was really criticizing me, not Mollie, for enjoying the sight of a good-looking man. Thinking about that, I realize I wouldn’t want to be otherwise. I believe it would be boring. Not only that, how would I write a romantic suspense or a mystery with romance in it if I didn’t like men or enjoy the sight of a handsome one?
I have no intention of changing. However, I do have some questions.
1. Does this type of criticism happen to any of you and, if so, is the criticism given by a certain age group, like seniors?
2. Do you make any attempt to counteract it with words, or do you just shrug and walk away?
3. How does it make you feel? Formerly, I’ve had criticism of genre, but never anything directed to my character which, I believe, is really a criticism of my writing.
Maybe I’m just naïve.
Joan K. Maze