Some of the long-time followers know I sent off a small first-batch of queries back in November/December after winning one of the Miss Snark's First Victim/Authoress' Secret Agent contests.
I sent 10, only 10 (to test the water). I'm aware that is an absurdly low number.
Then my querying dried up due to the high volume of family members dying, being rushed to hospital/emergency, and coming down with terrible illness/afflictions.
Querying was so far down on my list of concerns that I barely got excited each time I was asked for a full/partial, and it barely phased me when (ultimately) the story was rejected by every agent who made a request. I was pretty numb about the whole thing, which is why I didn't send out any more or make any kind of further effort. In truth, I nearly forgot about it entirely.
About two weeks ago (just as I learned another relative has a very short time to live), I heard back from the second-to-last agent who still has the full.
...and that one hit me kindof hard.
It was a personalized response (I got a couple of those, which was nice/flattering), and it clearly pointed out the single major thing I have always worried about with 'Simon's Oath'.
When I wrote the ending... I knew I liked it. I was also completely aware that probably, out of 10 readers, 9 of them would hate the ending.
Now, the problem with 'SO' isn't the ending itself, it's the character arc of one of the two main characters, Simon.
Y'know how, at the wrap-up of every story, the main character hits the lowest point, has a revelation (of sorts), and then climbs back up, even if it's only a few feet?
My story ends with Simon still flat on his face. Sure, there's the implication that things will work out better for him... but he never truly climbs to his feet and takes a step in the right direction. Which doesn't work in the world of YA. In adult fiction, it would have been fine.*
The ending fits with his character, and while I find it satisfying, I was already aware that it would be a difficult sell, because while Simon changes and grows as a character... it's not really a vertical growth. He sinks deeper with every choice he makes and then the rug is (essentially) pulled out from under him in the end. It's not quite Hans Christian Anderson where the matchstick girl dies in the cold and the little mermaid dissolves into bubbles, but it certainly leans closer to that than a Disney-fied 'everyone lived happily ever after' kind of ending.
It's not just a simple matter of re-writing the ending because the failure in the Simon's character arc to turn up at the end makes the wrap-up feel too fast, disrupts the expected ebb/flow of the story, and leaves somewhat of a bad taste from what I had hoped was a bitter-sweet end.
The question now is... what will I do with it? 'Cause it's not an easy fix. I'll probably have to tear apart/re-write the last 1/3 of the story, maybe more.
I don't even know if it's something I can fix on my own, because I know I'm not objective.
Has anyone else had a major problem like this with a story? Did you stick with it, or abandon it like a single sock that's lost it's mate and never looked back?
Any suggestions would be completely welcome/appreciated :)
*which is probably why another agent suggested I re-write the book with an adult audience in mind.