Thursday, August 20, 2009

Shout-out to my beta reader and rewriting yet again

Hi all, I think I've mentioned Jessica before. Jessica is my writing beta-reader. I have two beta-readers, actually. Marvin, a former child actor, and Jessica, a writer. They both help my stories immensely. Marvin helps because he understands motivation, characterization, and plotting. And because he's always there to read anything I write and to give me his opinion. Nothing better than a captive audience. Jessica's in grad school so she is majorly busy. Yet she always has time to help me between writing theses. She totally helped me with Wind Follower and if she hadn't been there to help me whip that baby into shape, it truly would not be published...or as good as it is.

And once again, she has gently, sweetly, and intelligently steered my creative path. Check this out! And see how kindly she steers my course. I am so totally blessed to have her helping me on this thing. God, thank you so much for sending Marvin and Jessica into my life. Jessica, I love you so much for this. It's really helping me.

Hey Carole!

I definitely think that the story is stronger without the framework, but this does not feel like the right point to begin. I have a slight problem with the first lines (see being present and Psal was being past), but it's not so much grammatical as it is the emotional flow. At this point, it feels choppy.

Now I want to be very careful how I say this. Later on in the chapter, particularly when you near the end with the discussion about the little girls, you settle into the rhythm beautifully. In the beginning and through most of the story it feels too choppy and foreign. The issue with the child is meant to shock the reader, and I think that it does that. But at this point and the way that it goes, I think that it's too disconnecting and may drive some readers away. At the beginning, it almost feels as if you are trying to settle into the narrative voice and as if you are trying to do too much. I think it needs a slower beginning without so much crammed into it. I know that one of your concerns after the critiques you received on Windfollower is that it will be too slow, but at this point, I think that you need to slow this down. Even a few more paragraphs or showing something right before this enormous conflict or else it may drive the readers away. I think also that the scene needs more setting. It all goes back to slowing it down, and I know that you can do that. I love in particular your line about Netophah still wearing a yellow shirt and who was he to advise them.

You have created a very thorough and beautiful world, and the story has a lot of goals to it. At this point though, it feels too much like you are writing with a gun in your hand and trying to shock the readers into the horror of what's happening to the newborn. For that to work (and I think that this scene is an important one and your instincts are right), you need to slow it down. Build up the tension and the setting. Let the readers absorb the horror of what is happening.

The other thing that I think you need to be cautious of is that, despite the beauty of parts of the language, it sometimes overtakes the emotional part. The description of Nahas is good and succinct, but I could not see him, nor could I see him interacting. Also the statements "boy," and references to the reader/narrator's audience felt a little out of place. I think that you might be able to achieve the same effect without that. The see then Psal is also rather alienating. At this point. With polishing and some slowing down of the tone, it could work well. The reason you shared about removing the framework was that it detracted from the emotional reality, and at this time, I think that the "boy discussion" and references to him do the same thing.

One of the real strengths of Ct is the complexity of your characters. They aren't just paper characters who are cut and dried. I love the way that you are playing with them and developing them and showing flaws even in your hero. The situation with Gaal is particularly interesting. If you slow it down and develop it even more, it's just going to get better and better, and your readers are going to be able to truly connect and understand rather than react.

I've got to head off now, but it was great to read your story. Thanks so much for sharing. I'm looking forward to reading more. God bless you! Be dangerous.

Jessica
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