What will make you buy my book?
Two more of my Alpha Readers gave me their criticism on the book, and I’m still picking the shrapnel out of my ego. I picked my first readers well — they’re good enough friends to call me on my shit. And called it was indeed. INDEED.
Beyond the psyche-bruising, all this feedback is making me really excited to get back to work on editing. So far, all of my readers have overall enjoyed the book — and the problems they’ve called my attention to are concrete. Maybe not easy to fix — but definitely doable. I can see multiple ways to change things to evade their criticism, but I’m going to let all of it settle a while longer. I’m still waiting on feedback from a third of my readers, and I don’t want to over-react to the first criticism I’ve received.
Admittedly, a fair amount of the criticism are ‘no-argument’ types. Grammar flubs, word repetition, confusing passages, jokes that didn’t work, etc. Those will be fixed — -it’s the things that deal more with overall structure and style that I’ll need to carefully ruminate on.
Sorry I can’t be more specific yet! Still drafts out in the wild.
Alpha Readers Responding: 4 out of 12
I’m on schedule for finishing my Alpha Edit of Spell/Sword before July 1st — my personal printer [aka my mom] is waiting to print copies for my crack team of Alpha Readers.
Editing is like painting with sand — everything you do changes the landscape, and draws into question things that you once considered granite-bedrock of your fiction.
I’ve spent a lot of time just sparring with anxiety. Am I editing too fast, too slow? Are the changes I’m making good — are they bad? Why aren’t there more minotaurs?
I’m terrified of getting overzealous and damaging the heart of the work — I’m terrified of not doing enough and leaving cancers to grow and fester in the lines and pages of the book.
I do think it’s time to crack the door open and let some other eyes prowl over the pages. I’m restricting my Alpha Readers to 10, half male, half female — and a pretty even spread of reader-types, and writers that I respect. After they get done, and give me some feedback, and I can stop crying — I’ll get back to work on a Beta Draft for the final round of 5 readers — my toughest critics: my girlfriend, a world-renowned Shakespearean scholar, a playwright, and the cruelest douchebag I can find.
Cold walk, warm house. My uncle’s third knuckle on the right, potato-sack lumpy and his red voice and the fall of the Roman Empire. The stars were out, but I was in.
Humans do these things. They do these things to each other every day.
My face was bent. I rolled next to the couch and waited, while meteors impacted on the surface of Mars.
The press of headphones, the music and the moon – I lay with the sheet over my head and lost myself. The rhymes, the words – the quick symmetry of the drum and the strange keen of the electronic flute.
I think about Star Prophet’s planets — about the songs he hears. The whirling slide of space and time, the spaces, empty – now full. Jupiter turns his face, and Saturn hula-hoops across the dance floor. The blood on my pillow is red. The rains of Mercury and Venus, the broken canyons hidden beneath the cotton-wool cloud.
[I’m really not happy with this section. I’m used to bla-bla-blahing my way, spitting out a few hundred words like it was nothing. This sucker’s fighting me. I’m going to keep working on SP in dribs and drabs, then do a massive revision when it’s all done. This is what I get for actually thinking about a story.]
Have you ever tried writing a climactic fight scene, from two different character perspectives — with two separate fights occurring concurrently — against a crazed dual-wielding assassin and a wizard that can see the future?
Now — have you EVER TRIED WRITING that same scene in between phone calls from nice church ladies about hand fans for Sunday, phone calls from idiot college students about coffee mugs, and phone calls that include diatribes about the exact PMS shade that would be appropriate for a “lavender” themed event.
Well — it’s hard.
Let’s skip to the part where I play my trumpet every night, and meals are on the house.
Man, it’s hard to be grumpy when your evening consists of a stage production of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu, followed by performing with a local burlesque troupe.
But I’m doing a pretty good job of it.
I’m still going to work on That Thing, and update my writing schedule.
But I will be petulant about it!
Petulant also sounds like the name of an Elder God.
Or a good cat’s name.