So the first non-me reader of my novel has finished it, and gave me a pretty solid compliment. She said that she loved the concept, and wished there was more to the book because she was enjoying it so much.
Okay, so the reader is my wife, which perhaps makes her review a little less than perfectly objective. She does have several notebook pages of notes compiled, though, and pointed out some errors that I overlooked, and some that I downplayed in my own mind despite the fact that they are actually pretty significant.
In short, a mixed review, which is actually exactly what I was hoping for. Good news is she didn’t feel it was a waste of her time or mine, in fact just the opposite. She told me it would make a good movie, and that it would do really well as a series. All the things a wife is supposed to say to her husband who is thrashing around in the riptide trying to find an artistic identity.
In fact, her feedback couldn’t have come at a better time; I’ve started working on my next major project and, much though I love the raw rush of creating from nothingness, it’s leaving a bitter taste in my mouth. Maybe bitter isn’t the word for it: I tried to describe the sensation to my wife, and the best I could come up with (though I actually rather like the simile) is oatmeal.
Writing the new project, at the moment, is kinda like eating oatmeal. The right things are happening, I feel like I’m building a solid foundation for the story to come, and in general the development of the project feels good. But it’s lacking flavor, and I can’t put my finger on why. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m writing the story explicitly from one character’s point of view, but I’m writing it in the 3rd person. Like, if I got into the character’s headspace, I could develop her voice with a bit more flair and verve, but from outside, I’m stuck describing events simply as they happen, and it feels… well, like oatmeal. Also, there’s the fact that I haven’t 100% decided exactly where this story leads — I know some major landmarks along the way but I don’t yet have an ending in mind yet. As a result, I’m moving through it a little tentatively, and that makes me nervous to take risks, which leaves the writing feeling… yeah. Bland.
So maybe I’ll toy with some 1st person perspective over the next couple chapters, or then again, maybe I’ll hold off, since the action is about to start crackling. Blerg. Should I be focusing on infusing a bit more flash and style into this piece to complement the story, or should I just focus on the events first and nail down the delivery later?
I would have thought that, having written a 90,000 word draft before, I’d know what I wanted to accomplish in this new story when I tried to come around and do it again. But apparently not. I blazed a path through the jungle only to discover that writing the next novel will be a hike across the endless desert.
Writer problems. I complain, but these are good problems to have, because the words are flowing, and a lot of writers can’t say that. Nothing to do but press forward. No way out but through.
This post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday.
6 thoughts on “A Complimentary First Review”
The way I write is usually through a third-person view (L said this, P said that); but then I tend to kinda blend it with slight first-person view by focusing on one character in particular for a certain bit (chapter, paragraph, whatever) and including their internal thoughts and such. Maybe try that? I dunno.
I’m glad your wife gave a good constructive review. 🙂
I had that thought, and can recall a few books I read that were written in that style. It’s a thought, but I dunno… I feel like I might enjoy myself as an author more if I just stick to one character’s brain in this book — and if that’s my game, why not just go 1st person all the way?
My first non-me reader was my ex-wife, who said she loved it and could I send her an autographed copy when it goes into print. She was one of half a dozen beta readers I enlisted to appraise my first draft. Of the others, one was dismissive and refused to go beyond chapter one, three gave honest, mixed responses, and the last (also a new writer) is painstakingly going through the whole thing and offering some very useful comments.
As for POV, in my first major projects, I have been and am sticking with first person throughout, and enjoying the challenge of that view’s limitations.
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I see… For best results I should have divorced my wife first. Note to future self!
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Congrats on finding out your book wasn’t a waste of time! That’s always my first worry, strangely enough.
I tend to write and then add the juicy bits as I find them in the shower… seriously, it’s not as disgusting as it sounds. You know what I mean. That’s when inspiration strikes, right? Right?
Okay, shutting up now.
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Not as bad, probably, as finding the moments on the toilet…