Do you think my book will be well recieved by readers?

by Farah
(Canada)

Hello,

So, I'm writing a love story. Well, it's not really a love story since the woman he ends up with isn't introduced until towards the end.

My character is a Bi-sexual, OCD, male high school student, named Andy, and it follows his journey. Andy has a deep love for books, has an irresponsible bi-polar mother, and a distant relationship with his father. His father was married when he started fooling around with Andy's mother and his mother's pregnancy resulted in the end of Andy's father's marriage. His father doesn't attempt to contact him until he is 16.
Now it is never outward stated that he is OCD, instead, every story starts with his daily routine which I would provide a description of but I'll probably write about it in another question if I have trouble.

So it mostly follows his relationships as he ages.

At 15, Andy dates Karen.
Andy meets Karen in the library of his school. Karen is quiet, shy, and has the same appreciation for books that Andy does. The problem in their relationship is that Karen wants to be liked. Andy isn’t shy. Andy just doesn’t like people and can be blunt. Andy is alone by choice. Eventually, she dumps Andy to start dating a jock. Andy goes home to an empty house and finds a note from his mother saying she'll be gone for a few weeks.

At 16, Andy dates Rachel.
Andy meets Rachel during the summer. She is an extrovert and he is an introvert, However, unlike Karen, Rachel doesn't care what people think of her. The problem is that she is that they don't have a lot in common. She eventually leaves him alone.

At 16, Andy dates his first guy in the fall. Ricky isn't out and is kind of a bully to Andy in public. Andy isn't in the closet, but he also hasn't told anyone. Not because he's ashamed, but because he feels like it isn't anyone's business. Andy doesn't care that Ricky wants to keep them a secret, but he's not impressed with the way Ricky treats him. They date a few months until Ricky's friends catch them and Ricky does nothing while his friends beat him up. Andy's mom comes looking for him when he doesn't come home and catches them in the act. The boys run off, Ricky included, and Andy's mom takes him to the hospital. Andy breaks up with him and doesn't date again for the rest of the semester. After his assault, his mom stops taking her medicine.

At 17, Andy goes to live with his father in New york. His mother has a breakdown and while she's in the hospital his father takes him in. Andy starts dating Amy shortly after he starts at his new school. Amy is kind of clingy and wants to spend all her time with Andy, much to his annoyance. Andy loses his virginity to her on Prom night, the same night his mom contacts him to let him know that she even though she no longer in the hospital she doesn't want him to live with her anymore. Andy and Amy break up after she says that she loves him and he doesn't say it back.

At 17, Andy does John.
John and Andy get together a month after his relationship with Amy ends. Andy is complaining about women being too emotional and complicated and then John kisses him. Unlike with Ricky, John is open about their relationship. John manages to do what his other partners were unable to...get him to start eating in the cafeteria and socialize with other people. John is the first guy Andy has sex with and the first person he ever says I love you too. They break up after they realize that they both have different plans for the future.

At the age 18, Andy meets Nicole.
Nicole and Andy don't date. Andy and Nicole meet in an art class. The two grow close, developing a nice friendship, which Andy mistakes as a relationship. After he kisses Nicole, she tells him that she is Asexual and not interested in a relationship.

At the age of 18,
Andy falls into a horrible relationship with Penny. Andy thinks Penny is fun. She has a fake ID which she uses to buy beer for her and Andy and talks him into getting a tattoo. Andy starts skipping school and coming home after curfew. Penny and Andy soon start getting into fights and Penny hits him whenever she loses her temper. She also says degrading things that mess with his self-esteem. Andy doesn't realize he's in an abusive relationship until Nicole and John stage an intervention.

At the age of 18,
Messed up after what happened with Penny, Andy starts dating
Carly, one of his father's co-workers. She's in her early 20's and is a married woman. She encourages Andy to start focusing on school again. The affair is short-lived because Carly ends things because she doesn't want to break up her home. Andy is heart broken... then finds himself hooking up with Carly's Ex-boyfriend Matt.

Matt and Andy have a kind of enemies with benefits relationship. They bond over their resentment towards Carly, but Andy eventually starts to develop feelings for Matt. They mutually decide to end things before someone gets hurt. With Andy's help, Matt is finally able to let go of his anger at Carly for leaving him for his brother and move on with his life.

Age 19-23
Andy meets Ashely in college. The two date for a really long time. Ashley is jealous and controlling. She makes decisions for Andy and plans out their lives without discussing it with him. It eventually comes to an end when a few days before the wedding she catches Andy in bed with a guy.

Age 24, Andy meets Tammy.
Andy and Tammy are roommates. Andy answered an ad in the paper after Ashely kicked him out. Tammy is fun and keeps Andy from moping over his un-engagement with Ashely. They don’t even realize that they are dating until one day on his way to work, Andy kisses Tammy as he leaves. Naturally, he has a panic attack and worries about it, but Tammy sets him straight. The story ends with Tammy telling Andy that she’s pregnant and Andy getting a call from his mom.

Now, I'm not sure if this is a love story since the person he ends up with isn't actually introduced until the end of the book. I'm also concerned that some of the issues I touch on in my book (Affairs, mental health issues, sexuality, cheating, etc.) won't be well received by readers. But I also don't want to change anything because I want it to deal with real problems that people have to deal with before they finally end up where they're supposed to be.

What do you think?

Answer: Well, if you don't want to change anything, there's no point asking for advice is there? But since you're asking...

I think your concept of showing how your character progresses through a series of relationships as he matures is fine.

However, most good stories follow a four-act structure, with a major turning point or "driver" at the beginning and end of each act. The structure looks roughly like this...

Initial Driver
Act 1: Setup
Driver 2 (change of direction)
Act 2: Complication
Driver 3 (point of no return)
Act 3: Move to Crisis
Driver 4 (crisis)
Act 4: Move to Resolution
Final Driver (resolution)

The reason this structure works is that it creates an emotional arc for the reader that is quite satisfying.

Right now, it sounds like you have nine acts (one act per love interest, plus Carly). I say this because I am assuming you will develop each relationship well, so that it will have it's own arc. That is, each relationship gets established, deepens, faces a crisis, and then resolves.

The challenge you face is to make sure these nine parts fit into a four-part emotional arc. Too many acts in a story can flatten the drama, making the story seem unnecessarily long and drawn out.

A few possible ways to handle this...

1. Since you have nine relationships, you might consider making five of these relationships into drivers rather than acts. That is, summarize them into single events that represent turning points in the character's journey, rather than developing these relationships into acts. This would make the remaining four relationships the subject of the acts, and more significant than the rest.

2. You might see if some of the relationships can be combined into one arc (so that you would cover two relationships per act and together they would represent a single phase in the character's journey.

3. Consider writing this book as an anthology of short stories or novellas rather than a novel. You could make each relationship a complete story in itself, while connected to the others in that they share a main character.

4. Expand the stories into a series of novels. This is trickier, since it puts pressure on you to develop each relationship (especially the first one) much more fully. Each novel would need a satisfying resolution that will make the reader hungry for more of the character. However, it sounds like you have a lot of material already developed regarding each relationship, far more than you would need in a single novel.

Best of luck.

(Note: I had to edit some of your question because it exceeded the word count for this page.)

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