For The Sake Of Story

Or also known as-

Yes, I Know There Are A Lot Of Snakes In My Novel, But That’s How Many There Really Were

(I think I’ll stick to the first title, it’s shorter.)

(Warning: if reading about snakes or killing snakes bothers you, don’t read further.)

So the critiques from my betas for Gilt Ridden are trickling in. (Actually, they’re all in. I’m just being pokey about getting through them.) And the comments are pretty much what I thought they’d be. Which makes me happy. It means that what I was feeling about the writing is what readers felt too.

And as with any novel that has some moments based on real events, there is a balancing act between showing the true facts and writing what is best for the story. While writing the scenes in which my main character is either killing rattlesnakes or searching for them, I knew the reader would be getting tired of it. But that’s what life on our ranch was really like.

Looking for snakes and killing them was my hobby. It was an ever-present task. Even doing a visual sweep inside of the house was a part of the ritual. When we moved to the ranch, our son was only 3, so the danger of a rattlesnake was very real. And the nearest hospital was a 30 minute drive away. By the time we moved away six years later, I had killed over 200 rattlers. They had become such a part of our lives, if a day went by and I hadn’t found one, it seemed like a boring day.

Some people have asked me, “Why did you stay out there? I would have moved!”

Well, have you seen those ghost stories where the family can’t move because every cent they had went into the house? That was us when we first got there. We had no other option. At least we didn’t have to do an exorcism. Shovels and shotguns worked just fine.

Stuart Ranch House

Ranch House

One of the reasons I felt compelled to include so many snake “interactions” in the story is because I was trying to show the world what living in West Texas was really like. Whenever I tell people some of the things that happened, they say, “You have to put that in a book!” Well, I tried and while I was writing I knew people wouldn’t believe it. It’s just too much for some folks, I guess.

So I’ll be revising the book.

I also want to tell you a comment someone said to me. (paraphrased) “I’m having trouble with a couple of scenes because Kay’s background isn’t the same as yours. She’s not exactly like you.”

My response, “I’m boring. I had to make Kay more interesting. That’s why it’s called ‘fiction’.”


I must add that when I let myself be free of, “What would I have have done? What really happened?”, the story was much easier to write. I had to remind myself that it isn’t a memoir, it’s fiction. I hope this doesn’t come across like I’m mad. Far from it, I’m grateful to my beta readers! I just thought I’d use this platform to share with you what life was like out there and how reality isn’t necessarily what’s best for the story.

Too many snakes for you? You should have tried living there.


    The most active day, 18 snakes. 

Posted in Writing by with 3 comments.

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