Lessons from the Fledgling Author: Beginning of the End

It has been two great weeks. I am up to nine Beta Readers! Yay! None of them have finished yet, but I am really looking forward to their comments, insights and criticisms.

Two weekends ago, I had the good fortune to be invited by Joe Follansbee to his “Carbon Run” book launch. I had never attended one before, so it was good to see what kinds of things one would expect from such a party. I will be presenting one soon. There were several published authors in attendance. While I did not meet everyone, I was introduced to K C Blackbyrn who recently published her first novel, “Stirring Power.” We had a great discussion about editing, editing, editing.

The best part of the afternoon was reconnecting with Elizabeth Guizzetti, author of “The War Ender’s Apprentice” (new on Kindle), “The Grove,” “Other Systems,” “The Light Side of the Moon,” and “Famine Lands: The carp’s eye.” I know her from Two Hour Transport, where she occasionally reads, and many writing panels she has been on at various conferences around Seattle. Much to my surprise, she offered to read Tishta and provide critical feedback. She followed through during the week. This week, I have been reviewing great feedback to incorporate into the book. I cannot thank her enough.

Some of the feedback from Elizabeth confirmed what I already suspected: the beginning moves too slowly, indicating there are scenes that should be cut; I describe where people are looking far too often; I overuse certain words, like just, up, down, and very, to name a few—for some of the ones Elizabeth pointed out, I have already made edits to cut back on them, but apparently, even what is left is overdone.

More importantly, she pointed out how obvious it was that I did not invest myself in the character who dies. I think I did not want to deal with the grief I knew would come if I let myself love her. One of my new tasks is to write her backstory, and learn to love her. Then, I will be prepared to rewrite her story in Tishta.

Elizabeth also helped me see where my story falls into stereotypical female responses under stress. I have some changes in mind to fix that for some of the things my lead warrior, Gillan, does to respond to her grief. I think this will greatly improve the story and the character.

In the mean time, two more beta readers joined my group. Maybe at least a few of them read the book and give me some feedback. I am hoping to garner more insight into the story and the characters. I gave my readers a deadline of Thanksgiving to return feedback. My plan is still to publish by the  end of the year. It will be a tight schedule to review the feedback and re-edit the book in a month, but I will give it my best shot.

I think this last month away from the book has been a good thing. Hopefully, I will read it with fresh eyes when I again dive into editing. It has been hard not to do this, especially after receiving the feedback from Elizabeth, but I think it is important.

I have been researching how to self edit and publish online. One video by Ellen Brock suggested that, even if you do not write from an outline, it is a good practice to outline your story. She says it will assist in finding the scenes, or even chapters, that do not move the story forward. For every scene, she looks for the Goal, the Conflict and the Outcome. Every scene. I am going through my book to create this now. Fortunately, Scrivener has a synopsis built right into the editor—and they show up as cards in the Corkboard view—so, I am writing these notes in the synopses. I am already finding a lot of scenes where I cannot define the Conflict. I think this technique will be invaluable in discovering the scenes that can be cut, especially from Parts One and Two.

I am really looking forward to this next edit. In the meantime, I have gone through the book to document how far the group travels. My first shot at drawing the world—beyond the rough sketches I needed to try to keep track of them—has shown me places where the world is either too big or too small. I will make adjustments in the story to accommodate a more perfect world. The other part of drawing my world is ensuring the places they do not visit fit in to my vision for the rest of the complete story arc, which is spread out over at least four more books.

In completing this first book, I have been forced to include many of the elements I will need from this story to support the following stories. It has made writing this book take longer, but I believe it will make the entire story arc more consistent, and the following books easier to write.

I should return to doing my book things now.

Copyright ©2014-17 Ramona Ridgewell. All rights reserved.

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