Rethinking the Roadmap

d3/108,382 words

Interacting with users over on FWO has made a fantastic difference, and I feel truly fortunate that so many people are willing to spend their free time sorting through my writing (Milena & Ailian in particular!). To put it simply, they are unearthing tons of things that need to be addressed. Some is stuff I worried about myself, and they have confirmed with resounding unanimity. Others are things that I totally missed, but upon reflection, are definitely real issues.

I’ve basically gotten through chapter 6 with everyone I am working with, and there are enough structural changes (mostly to the characters) that my old roadmap for revisions is out the window. I am starting over now on what I am calling draft 3, and it will incorporate my own notes and the feedback from the beta readers.

Getting this kind of feedback has been an interesting experience. I go through moods, first feeling like this whole thing is FUBAR and I should just start something new, but then feeling like I can fix it. I am a little discouraged by how far off I was on many things, but then again, this is my first writing project. What could I expect? The key here is to learn everything I can, apply it to the later chapters on my own, and hopefully get better at this whole game as I go. Processing feedback seems to kick off a few days of writers block, but when I come out of it, I feel good about where to go.

Another bit of feedback I’ve gotten is that some of my settings lack enough description. I am really kicking myself, because all of the examples highlighted are places where I vigorously cut descriptions in my attempt to lower my word count. It would seem I went overboard, and took too much away. Given the new course, I am once again not focusing on word count. I want to get this right first, then I can worry about that. I am going to add back in stuff that I liked or wanted, as there is no need to be that parsimonious with my words just yet.

The biggest projects for the next couple weeks are as follows: 1) Re-invent Nick’s POV so he can be sympathetic, and the reader understands what he actually wants and thinks. 2) Make some decisions about Evaya’s Sensing ability. As attempted in chapter 2, it is just way too powerful to not play a larger role in the plot. I need to adjust this. 3) There are a few key chapters that readers are finding contrived. I worried about this, and my fears are now confirmed. I need to rethink this, as well as some chapters they haven’t seen yet (*ahem* 20 and 26), and make it work.

This is definitely a setback time-wise, but the chance to really propel forward with a more compelling and engaging story, so in the end it is a win.

Workshopping for the Win

d2/110,646 words

I’ve continued to work with Skylark over at FWO, and had a few bits of feedback from other users as well. Although it is a little unsettling being told about all these issues, I do have to say I feel way better about the story after incorporating feedback. There really is nothing like an blunt, objective, outside review.

I have 9 chapters edited to draft 2 (and a few incorporating beta feedback), and I’m feeling good. I seem to be able to clean the draft at 2-3 chapters per week, which means I am looking at about 12 weeks to get this thing in the bag. One thing to note is that the cleaning process is also including a heavy polish and word-cut round, so it is really hitting d3, and d4 all at once. We’ll see if I can skip over those as separate iterations when the time comes, but it seems possible at the moment.

Last thing of note, is I’ve managed to cut about 3K words over 9 chapters. I know of a few places I need to expand things, but on the whole I think I can hit 300 words cut per chapter… which should bring me to just about 100K words total. Hopefully that is a good place to sit for a fiction debut.