Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Forgiveable Transgressions

I was recently privy to a conversation between two authors. Author A was fretting because she was working on the sequel to an already published story. Her dilemma? The sequel revolved around the secondary characters of the first story and she wanted to change the hair and eye color of these characters in the new story, but fretted about what her audience might think.

Author B advised her not to worry. Most readers wouldn't notice and those who do will think they've been let in on a delicious secret.

Since I was eavesdropping (rude in itself) I couldn't exactly plow into the conversation and provide my opinion. (I know--shocking that I actually kept my big wazoo shut!) But this blog is mine so I can spout all my wisdom here. So here goes:

Hey, Author A! Is there a specific reason the story warrants the change? Are all blond, blue-eyed men being annihilated and it's up to the green-eyed auburn-haired lady to save the hero? Because, otherwise, I'd advise against insulting your readers by underestimating their intelligence.

See, I'm not just a writer. I'm a reader. A big one. I was a reader long before I became a writer. And I can tell you right now, there've been cases where a character in one book undergoes some kind of metamorphic change in another. Never once did I think I was in on a "delicious secret." Instead I thought, "Here's an author whose research is so poor, she can't even go back to her own story for fact-checking."

Where do you stand? What's forgiveable in your books? What makes you think the author was lazy?