Thursday, September 19, 2013

Updating the 4th Draft

After my last group of Beta Readers, I’ve been scrambling trying to fix issues in the book, while at the same time reducing word count and cleaning up some of the grammar. I’ve decided to get the new version done ASAP, because I have another set of Beta Readers waiting. ( is awesome for that.)

The main changes, in the upgrade, are in the middle of the book. I wanted to lean it out a bit while at the same time, try to find ways to make it more exciting. While not giving away too many details, I’ve been working to solidify the main character’s drive through that part of the novel. I also have changed a bit of the lead up to the climax because a few readers stated one part of it slightly confused them and got them out of the story for a moment. So I wanted to make sure that issue was resolved.

I did some research recently on word count and found that most Middle Grade books are about 60K words. Jeez, how in the world are people writing like that? LOL But then I found a few threads on MBs that stated that generally 20-25% extra is given to those who write fantasy or sci-fi for world building. (So more like 80 to 90K) I was glad to hear that, I just don’t see a way to take out 20K words from The Messengers. The story is a sci-fi/fantasy mix. I personally think it falls more under the dystopian sci-fi banner, but some of my beta readers have seen it as fantasy. So it is upper middle grade, dystopian post-apocalyptic sci-fi with fantasy elements. LOL

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Beta Readers part 1

Every writer, who wants to be a great writer, should have a few beta readers overlook their text. And when you receive feedback, read it, but don’t comment on it for at least 24 hours. Allow your brain to let go of all that you think is “right” about your story. And open your mind to something “new.” This doesn’t mean you’ll change everything to match the beta reader’s comments, but it does mean that you’re open to ideas to make the project better.

On Tuesday, I received 4 beta reader reviews of The Messengers/Message Runners. I asked everyone to rate the book from 1 to 10 (10 being the highest) and so far my score is right at an 8. Not bad I’d think especially for a first novel. But I’d prefer a rating of 9+. (LOL)  It was fun, understanding which readers connected with what characters or situations. It was great getting feedback from them on style, language, characterizations, etc.

After a day to contemplate that my masterpiece (actually I knew it needed a bit more work) wasn’t perfect and shifting through all the ideas and points that the readers made. It came down to two main areas that needed to be addressed. (I won’t point out which ones here.) I already plan to rewrite most of those areas. I’ve contemplated simply removing chunks and reworking sections; but I’ve learned that most of the time it’s better to simply start over, if you have a large section that needs to be fixed. I struggle, as I’m sure others do, with what part of a scene to keep and which part to toss, but having the knowledge of the scene, and rewriting the scene allows me to focus only on the main parts it. So next week I’ll sit down to restructure/write. (Waiting gives my brain more time to digest the new scenes.)
Note on Personality:

For my beta readers I used all women. I’m always concerned about the female characters, since I’m a guy. Also knowing that women are more likely to pick up books for children, I thought it best to get more womanly advice. LOL

My beta readers consisted of one middle school teacher in the higher 45 and up age range, an avid reader/editor in the 35 to 45 age range, a fantasy editor in the 35 to 45 age range, and a reader closer to college aged. I liked the dynamic to understand how people may view the book. Luckily everyone loved my lead. YAY! But they varied greatly on the side characters, who/what they thought was important, who/what should be cut, etc.  In fact, I was left myself with more questions than answers. So I focused in on the two major areas that all of them made comments about and those are the places I plan to spend the next few weeks fixing, before I find a new set of beta readers. It’s important to me that the book is fresh in a reader’s mind, so they can’t “fill in the holes” with information they already know.

The experience for me has been great. I like to learn and I know this process will make the work better.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Dragoncon 2013

I love going to Dragoncon each year. So many wonderful people. So many ideas. So much creativity. And the Fans! The fans are so awesome. I love seeing them enjoying their favorite ideas, wearing T-shirts or dressing up or just attending panels. (One day I hope to see fans dressed like Messengers)

This year was my first year really talking with people and finding out more about creating and selling a novel. I spent most of the time back and forth learning the "secrets" to publishing. As I walk this path, I'll be sure to let everyone know about what worked for me and what didn't. But the biggest piece of advice that most people I ran into stated was simply "Be true to yourself."

And it's importaint to know what you like and stick with it, because if you like it maybe someone else will as well. I hope everyone likes "The Messengers" which reminds me I've been sending out versions of the novel for Beta Reads. I'm now moving into Beta Readers (That are not my friends or family:-)) I plan on letting about 8 to 12 people beta read then do another draft before obtaining a line edit.

Anyway, enjoy the pictures below from Dragoncon 2013!