I am running into a conundrum. I have finished my second manuscript and I am sending it out for people to read, but I am having second thoughts. The book is about a child who is experiencing hallucinations where she goes to another land and talks to dragons. At the moment I have her diagnosed as a child with schizophrenia, but I am afraid that I will be overstepping too many boundaries. As someone who has not personally experience that level of mental illness I know that the sections of the book that follow the girl in first person will be inaccurate. I thought I would be able to sell the book as a very fictionalized take. Now I am not so sure.
I know that fiction requires risk taking, but I think this one might be a little too far. I’m having several people look at the MS right now–a few have physiology degrees or work with people with mental illness–but I have not spoken directly with individuals who have schizophrenia. I have not heard back from those who are reading the book now. I’m sure that they will like aspects of the book but who knows! I am probably WAY off and need to take the story in a different direction. I am eager to hear what they say about the MS. I am always looking to improve my storytelling, and if I need to find a way around the diagnosis then I will.
My latest plan for adjusting the book is to end the story before a definitive diagnosis is ever reached. Throughout the book there is dialog with the girl and her psychiatrist so she is getting some attention in that regard. Looking back on the book, naming a mental illness is going a little far. I think leaving the diagnosis to the imagination of the reader might help me not worry about making a whole population of people angry! I am curious to hear what feedback I get to see what else can be improved upon to making the story work. I also need to figure out if this story is for mature YA or adult fiction. It is skating many iffy lines at this point!
Has anyone else run into big issues like this? Anyone have second thoughts on a story or character that they worked through or decided to put away?