I’ve been working on a series of questions for my Beta Readers of The Riddle Box. The idea was for them to not read them until after they finish reading the draft, but I realized that if I carefully obscured the character names — and a few entire questions — it wouldn’t really matter if they read them beforehand — AND was sort of a backhanded way of revealing some of the things that all readers have to look forward to in the next book. Plus, I’m going out of town for the weekend, and felt guilty about my slow posting of late — and this is an easy cut-and-paste affair. This may be a huge mistake, but you can safely ignore the disclaimer at the top. OR CAN YOU?
I also thought this might be an interesting ‘behind the scenes’ look at MY PROCESS. [Trumpets begins to blare.]
DO NOT LOOK AT THESE QUESTIONS UNTIL AFTER YOU HAVE FINISHED READING
The Riddle Box.
Seriously. Don’t do it.
These questions are chock-full of spoilers and things that could influence your first read for better or worse. I have some specific concerns about the book, and specific areas that I’m less than pleased with, that I want to make sure you mentally target as you give me feedback. I’m not expecting you to actually respond to these questions ‘in-line’ as if this were some sort of high school worksheet [unless you’re in to that], but please be thinking about them as you prepare your feedback in whatever form you prefer it to take.
1. Do you feel cheated by the solution to the mystery?
Did I break the rules of the ‘locked room’ mystery?
There are a series of murders, did the explanation for any seem thin, unconvincing, or illogical?
Which of the murders did you need more information about?
2. Did Jonas or Rime act in a way that seemed incongruous with their portrayal in Spell/Sword?
3. This book introduces more ‘world’ information than the previous, how did you react to it?
What, if anything, would you have liked to know more about?
4. Overall, The Riddle Box has much less action than the first book — or at least it’s nearly half-way thru before there’s a big fight scene. Did you notice the lack?
5. I introduced two ‘love interests’ for the leads in this book, [REDACTED] and [REDACTED]. What were your thoughts about Jonas’ and Rime’s reaction to these characters?
6. With regards to [REDACTED], I was playing around with the trope of the ‘Damsel in Distress’ — too heavy handed?
7. [REDACTED] is a [OBFUSCATED] character. Were you aware of that? Should you have been aware of that? What thoughts do you have about his portrayal, in relation to sensitivity?
8. The entire novel takes place in one location, the Manor. Were you ever confused by the layout or description of the locale?
Did the passage of time seem reasonable and easy to follow?
9. The repeated conceit of the ‘flashback’ chapters, i.e. Who was [REDACTED]? to reveal more information about the murder victims — how did you react to these chapters structurally? How do you think they impacted the flow of the novel?
Did you have any individual issues with these interludes?
10. How did you react to the further revelations of Jonas’ past? Does it contradict anything established in the first book?
11. [KILLER]. Discuss.
Was [REDACTED] scary?
12. The denouement of the novel is a bit rushed. Do you feel any explanations were hurried or glossed over when you wanted more detail?
Does Rime need another beat where she processes [REDACTED]’s death?
Jonas doesn’t approach Rime with the knowledge that they are going to [REDACTED], is this a problem?
13. [ENTIRE QUESTION REDACTED]
14. [ENTIRE QUESTION REDACTED]
15. Jonas manages to subdue [REDACTED] twice via headbutt. Is this funny or lame?
16. The scene of [REDACTED] in the [REDACTED], did you find this scene effective?
17. Any other flaws in logic or plot?
18. What would you say the theme of The Riddle Box is?
How effectively was this conveyed?
19. Compared to the first book, how did this one measure up against your expectations?
If you have not read the first, how well does this novel operate as a stand-alone experience?
20. What do you expect to occur in the next novel? What would you like to see explored in the future?
Normal caveats. These are all questions about the rough draft, the novel can change massively between now and publishing.