Wednesday, October 11, 2017

When you like it and readers don't.

Wrote final scene of "Takeover" and I'm now working on beta reader and editor suggestions. Long and slow and arduous  and most often results in merely incremental improvements, but every little bit helps. Will probably take 3 or 4 days to get this done, then on to the rewrite on Friday. Going to to finish that within about 10 days and then be done.

I like this book. I like the way I did it. I like the characterization, the plot, the writing. It's one of the few times that I've liked a book that others have expressed doubt about. In fact, I like the very parts they didn't like.

I was able to add some stuff to the first half of the book without changing its focus, but I'm not doing more than that. Admittedly, I'm asking for a bit more patience on the part of the reader, but that's what makes the payoff in the end. At least, that's what I think.

Most of the readers thought the first half of the book was slow. I have to take them at their word.

Here's the thing: the setup of the first half and the characterization were built into the very premise.

Now I've always hated it at writer's group when there is a consensus that there is something wrong with a story that can be fixed but the writer says, "But I MEANT to do that. It's on PURPOSE!"

Rarely are these excuses valid. (This isn't usually a case of a huge misunderstood talent but simply lack of experience.)

Most often, it's because the writers aren't willing to kill their darlings. Sometimes you can't convince them they're shooting themselves in the foot. It's hard enough to get accepted, why make it harder? Many are simply beginner mistakes, which because they refuse to change will remain beginner mistakes because that's as far as they'll ever get.

Take the advice and fix it.

Nevertheless, I am using that defense.  I MEANT to do that. It's on PURPOSE!

Anyway, with this book I started off with a certain premise. I'd take a group of characters who I'd try to make as realistic as I can, put them in a realistic situation, have them interact, and out of that would come the plot.

All I knew was that there would be a murder and that a badder group of bad guys would come in so that the hostages and the original occupiers had to band together to survive.

But other than that, I wanted the plot to develop naturalistically.

Here's the thing: you can't be realistic and have a gun fight every ten pages. You can do that in a murder mystery or a thriller, and even though that's what I was what I was calling this book,  I found that the action had to flow from what the characters were doing.

As it happened, it took 100 pages to develop the scenario where the second half of the book was at least feasible.

100 pages of setup and 140 pages of payoff.

I personally feel there is enough going on, enough intrigue and interpersonal conflict, to make it work.

But I can't ignore that a bunch of people don't feel that way.

This is my second attempt at writing a realistic, non-supernatural book. Both The Scorching and Snaked were non-supernatural, but they had some largely fantastical elements. Big Stuff.

Both "Deadfall Ridge" and "Takeover" are more human sized. Mystery and thriller.

What I'm learning is, the for me the supernatural and fantastical elements are a bit of a crutch. I mean, I wasn't using them that way. It's my natural bent. But in trying to write human-sized stories, I'm realizing how easy it was to spice up a story by introducing some fantastical element.

So I'm learning.

But this book was a stretch and that's a good thing and if it's a failure (and as I said, I think it's the best thing I've done) then I think it was a noble effort.

I'm just going to say this right here: I think it's a good book the way it is. I added a couple of action scenes in the first half which I don't think hurt, and I do think the second action scene provides better motivation for the next 50 pages or so, so that was good.

But I'm not going to try to bend the structure more than this.

It's good.

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