Monday, February 05, 2007
Q & A 94 Jarring Question
I was recently fortunate enough to receive a free, detailed critique from an editor who took a look at the first fifty pages of my manuscript.
Now, this editor told me that my prose was smooth and well put together, however, he was "jarred" by a place in the text where a dragon appeared. I was a bit surprised--this editor was familiar with the fantasy and science fiction genre. Apparently, he didn't like how the dragon came in at the twenty-fifth page, because it was too unexpected.
Now, here's my question. As an editor, would you immediately reject anything that "jarred" you? Or can jarring be a good thing? In your opinion, what's the issue with being "jarred" anyway?
You've reached the climax of a 200-page cozy mystery. The detective has called the suspects together. She announces that the killer was Miss Scarlet in the library with the revolver. It's jarring because you were almost certain it was Mr. Green. That's good jarring.
The detective has called the suspects together. She announces that the killer was Thor, god of thunder, with his hammer in the billiard room. It's jarring because Thor had no motive. Also because, up to now, he wasn't in the book. That's bad jarring.
Page 25 is a bit early to be jarred by the appearance of a dragon if the reader is aware that this is a world in which dragons might exist. Like, there've been castles and knights and burned corpses strewn about. If it's been an average day in downtown Peoria for 25 pages, I might consider a dragon jarring.
On the other hand, if it's been an average day in Peoria for 25 pages, you might need a dragon to keep me from tossing the book aside and picking up a better one.