A few weeks back, not that long really, my agent got a rejection for ‘Scales & Stingers’. They included a comment about liking the story/plot, but thought the writing wasn’t where it should be/my voice wasn’t clear. Because of this, Denise suggested I take another look at the book.
Outside of checking for some continuity issues between book 1 and 2, I hadn’t opened the file for over 6 months. A second look was definitely warranted.
I also recruited two new beta readers. They were people who enjoy fantasy, are well-read within the genre, and hadn’t read my work before. This was good because they wouldn’t let me get away with crap.
And, to be honest, parts were just that. Crap.
The characters in this series are dear to me. They’re based off of a D&D campaign that was one of the best I’ve ever played in, or helped to run. One reason I started the book, honestly, was I wasn’t ready to let go of Thia. And I want to do right by my friends whose characters I co-opted for the book.
Based off their feedback, I took out an entire chapter. I added a new one. I expanded the world building, adding small details. I found areas where I told the reader what was going on instead of showing them.
I also fell back in love with the story and characters.
The 2.0 version is with those betas now, getting another read through. I’m working through ‘Shield & Scepter’ from the start, catching those problem areas before I finish writing the story. My writing is stronger, my voice clearer, and the world more immersive. The events of the first book are fresh in my mind, making the second easier to write as far as continuity.
Some authors would see that kind of feedback and get discouraged. Early in my career, I probably would’ve too. But now I see it as a challenge. A way to prove to myself, my agent, and maybe that publisher (if Denise resubmits to them), that I can grow as an author. I can take an honest critique and not run off screaming about how horrible the publisher is.
No book is perfect on the first draft. Sometimes it takes ten versions to get it right. Don’t give up because you got told you weren’t perfect, here’s enough of an advance to pay for your kids’ college education.
I have a thousand excuses in my head to give up. I have maybe ten reasons why I should keep writing. Those reasons are stronger, louder, and better than all the excuses in the world.
Revisions and rewrites are part of the process. They help us grow as authors. Even when this book finds a home (and it will – I know it!), there’s likely to be an editing process. More revisions and rewrites will be needed. Which is fine. The goal is a book that appeals to more than just a handful of people. It’s something that thousands won’t want to put down, will grab the next one as soon as it hits the market.
Never fear revisions, or honest critique. Fear those who don’t have the courage to tell you something’s wrong.
BB/Chan Eil Eagal Orm