This came up in another writer’s blog some time ago, was discussed roundly there, and keeps coming up so I’m going to talk about it here, too. The question was about whether to add a certain element — in this case a kitten, but it could as easily been something else equally dangerous: a certain character, explicit sex, non-standard gender roles — knowing even as you do so that it will make the story harder to sell. To emphasize the point, an editor pointed out how hard it indeed would be to sell any such story to him. Not impossible, but very very hard. My position is: if the kitten is required then put the kitten in and damn the consequences.
I can be dogmatic at times (Gee, ya think?), but I know there are times when compromise is required. We don’t live anywhere near Perfect, as the drug store ads used to remind us constantly. And yet…there’s a limit. There has to be. Trends fade. Today’s hot topic is tomorrow’s fishwrap. Prejudices morph. “Marketability” is a will-o-wisp if ever there was one, and trying to second-guess and anticipate it leads to bog-downs and hackdom. Continue reading