Name Theory: It Matters What You Feel

It doesn’t matter what I think, it matters what you feel.

Sometimes I have to repeat it to myself.

It doesn’t matter what I think, it matters what you feel.

I say this to myself when a writer I know makes choices that I don’t agree with or understand.

Sometimes it’s easy for me to say, because I trust the writer or because there is much about the plot that I don’t know and can’t judge. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to say, because I think the writer is being blind to problems or ignoring readers (I know one writer who “doesn’t care” if her dialect writing is unreadable or if her descriptions make no sense).

Sometimes, I know it doesn’t matter to me but it matters to them.

Would I have chosen the names Jasmine, Winster, and Isabel? No, not at all. Does it matter to me? Not really, I can see them working. Does it matter to the writer? Yes; they are the writer’s babies.

It doesn’t matter that I think Princess Jasmine is too fraught with associations to be used as this character’s name, it matters that the writer feels this is the best name for the character. And, I don’t know, but the name could have meaning within the story, or the character could be called a nickname that will negate the association, or the character could be so different that readers won’t think about the Disney princess at all.

As a writer, you have to judge the criticism you get from others. Does it matter what they think, or does it matter what you feel? Sometimes, you have to give in (especially if multiple people say they can’t understand your description!), but most often you will have to go with your gut and trust in your choices.

Write the story you love. Edit the story as much as it needs, but no more. Keep true to your vision, and you will find readers who love it as much as you do.

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