I’ve been writing for a very long time, but I need some advice. I’ve mostly worked on children’s books, but recently have started writing adult fiction. I want to use one of my characters from my children’s books in an adult setting, but I’m worried about how my audience will react to it. Some of my readers have grown up with my books or read them to their kids.
What do you think I should do?
Good question and a tough one to answer. The best thing I can do is give you the same answer I give to everyone who has concerns with how their audience will react; Do what YOU want to do. If you want to bring this character over, if its one you like to write about, then go for it. In the end, don’t worry about what your audience might think. Love them, entertain them, be there for them, but don’t try to interpret what they’d like. They obviously like what you do, so you’re doing something right.
That said, I do understand your concern. Honestly, when I write, I try to avoid such pitfalls because there’s a certain trauma when you see a childhood hero fall.
Let me give you an example. When I was young, one of my favorite movies was Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. I used to watch it with my grandmother, and always enjoyed the loveable Ned Land as portrayed by Kirk Douglas
(Jesus… how is that man still alive.)
I still sing that song to my boys sometimes. It always puts a smile on their faces.
However, as time went on, I started getting into other classic films. Finally, I came across an absolutely incredible World War 2 film: In Harm’s Way. With the knock out cast of John Wayne, Burgess Meredith, Slim Pickens, Kirk Douglas, and Henry Fonda in the film, I was practically guaranteed a good time. I was also looking forward to seeing Douglas in something other than 20,000 Leagues as that’s all I really knew him from at that point, and honestly, he was recognizable right away. The characters were similar to the point that I started referring to him as Ned instead of Captain Eddington.
But… then as the movie progressed and I started getting into it, we see some of the true demons that Eddington contended with. After losing his unfaithful wife, an event which tortured him to the core, he got involved in a flirtateous relationship with another young lady… one that happened to be engaged to his best friend’s son (though he didn’t know that). They became romantic, but before it went too far, she warned him that she was engaged. At this point, Eddington became enraged. It was as though anger that she was acting like his late wife, and that he’d been played with, making him no better than the man who messed with his wife. He proceeded to rape her on the beach.
Following that, she suspected that she was pregnant, and when she went to Eddington, he refused to believe her. Having no way out, she comitted suicide. When Eddington found out what had happened, he stole a plane and went on a suicide mission instead of face the consequences.
I admit, part of me was crushed. It was a long time before I could watch the movie again. I grew up watching an extremely similar character in all ways and thoroughly enjoying it. To see this, hurt quite a bit.
I suppose I should have seen that coming at some point, but that’s on me.
With that being said, I still recommend you write how YOU want. There may be rude shocks, and hurt childhoods, but part of what makes our writing good is how much emotion we can drum to the surface. It’s not just happiness and satasfaction. Anger, fear, sadness, and the negative emotions are just as powerful and can draw a reader in just as easily.
So if you want to use this character, go for it.
Readers, what do you think? Is this the right move for Cheryl or should she excercise more caution with her audience’s emotions? Let me know in the comments.
Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.
I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.
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Catch you on the flip side!