It has to do with my characterization of Lee and Kara in Insanity Underrated. Now, unfortunately, I cannot step totally outside of myself. I cannot put myself in another person's brainspace so completely that I understand instantly what they believe. But I would like to come as close as possible to doing just that. I would like to understand the point that this person was trying to make, and I would like to know if it is a widespread belief that may possibly require me to rewrite and/or rethink my outline.
Now, there's a fine line between attempting to incorporate constructive criticism (and being accepting of said criticism) and allowing readers to control what you write. I am not interested in the latter. I have a specific story to tell. I also recognize the fact that it is absolutely impossible to please 100% of people 100% of the time. But on the other hand, I do not want to be one of those writers who freaks out at the least little bit of constructive criticism and takes it as a personal offense that someone would even dare to say something like that about their precious little story. I WANT constructive criticism. I believe that it helps me to improve as a writer. If there is a serious problem with one of my fics, or with the way it is structured, I want to know! I want to know so that I may do my best to fix it.
So. My essential purpose in making this post is to ask for opinions. If the general consensus is that I'm on the wrong track, I need to know now. Well, really I would have liked to know about five chapters ago, but I'll take what I can get. ;)
The first issue that the person raised has to do with the amount of canonical dialogue and scenes that are re-hashed in the fic. They say they feel that there is not enough originality in there, not enough that is different from canon to really justify the fic's existing. My goal with Insanity Underrated, from the start, was always to stay as close to canon as I could while exploring how a single different decision from one person at one time would change events. That is still my goal, and I still intend to make a different statement with the fic than canon did. I think there are many stories that take one or several canonical events (or even all of canon) and put a different "spin" on them, while keeping canonical integrity intact. I have seen a lot of fics do this successfully in both the BSG fandom and the Star Wars fandom. Many of those are as close (or even closer) to canon as Insanity Underrated is, up to and including the point about canonical dialogue and scenes parroted verbatim. Yet they still manage to say something different and interesting about the characters.
It's my opinion that IU does this successfully too. But after all, I am the author, and I may well be working with my author blinders firmly affixed to my eyes. ;) I also have the benefit of seeing the full outline and knowing how the story will differ from canon in the end. But I wonder now if I am sticking too close to canon. I wonder if there is not enough originality present in the work. Are the changes I've introduced enough? Or do I need to significantly revamp the rest of the New Caprica and S3 plotlines in order to include even more changes? I worry that if I do that, I am moving too far away from the original goal of the fic. But I don't want to wind up being too similar to canon, either. If I wanted strict canon, I'd grab my DVDs and just watch those. ;)
The second point brought up was a writing thing - i.e. that there was more "telling" than "showing" in the last couple chapters. I believe this is at least partially a function of the way I chose to handle the New Caprica year, but I do not dispute that the criticism is a valid one. The decision to group together a bunch of little events rather than focus on one overarching theme may not, in hindsight, have been the best thing to do, because it does unfortunately lend itself to a lot of telling rather than showing. That is my failing as a writer, and not a poor reflection on anyone who might have read those chapters and had those thoughts. It is something that I need to work on.
The third point has to do with characterizations. This is the part where I really am worried. The person feels that there has not been enough development vis-a-vis the alternate universe events having of an impact on the characters, to change them. They also feel that Kara and Starbuck have come across as two different people, when in fact that is (obviously!) not the case. They say they think that I have not done enough to portray the fact that Kara is vulnerable and that she has a very real fear of getting hurt. In addition, they say that they see Lee and Kara as essentially the same people that they were in the first few chapters of the story.
Obviously, this concerns me quite a bit. As I explained above, I am completely willing to accept that these problems in fact exist with the story - but I really need to know whether a significant majority shares these views. My dilemma has been attempting to keep Kara and Lee in character, and part of that (in my opinion) means that their identities should not be subjugated and changed overnight simply because they have married. Kara should still be vulnerable and hide under bravado sometimes. Lee should still be tentative around her and worried that she will get scared and leave. I may have failed in this matter, at least so far, and I can reconsider my approach and repair the damage done.
But I need the non-sugarcoated version of your opinion. I do not need gushing over how amazing the fic is. If you truly think so - truly, truly - great, but if there are any niggling doubts or things that you think aren't just a matter of interpretation, please, PLEASE say so. I need to know if I have totally missed the boat. If I am making a mistake with this story by trying to follow canon as much as I can. I want to tell the best story that I can. I want to do justice to this idea. I don't want to change to suit just a couple of readers, but IF THERE REALLY IS A PROBLEM, then I need to know. I know that some fanfiction readers hold back on constructive criticism because they are afraid the author will blow up at them and accuse them of flaming. I am not one of those people. And like I said, if the majority of readers do hold the opinions expressed above (or even just two or three), I would like to know. I would like you to pay me the courtesy of your honest opinion.
Please do not flame and/or bash the person spoken about above in your comments. They were merely expressing their opinion, and they deserve respect for so doing. I am glad that they have brought these matters to my attention because I can now take these questions to the rest of my readers and solicit their opinions. I will also be speaking with my beta reader as soon as possible about these concerns. And if indeed significant revision and/or rewriting is required, I need to take time out to do that. I want to put forward the very best story that I can. I don't want to bow to what every person thinks, but I do care about how this fic is perceived. I don't like the idea that I may be unknowingly making significant mistakes with my characterization. I want to improve. I want to do better.
Thank you in advance for any comments you can offer. :)