Friday, September 25, 2015

What a reader can do

Email from my writing partner:

I had a note from the woman I pitched Embattled to. She said:

I bought your friend’s book, Embattled.  I had to start the book over when I hit page 14.  I was very confused.  Think I am over the hump now…

I wrote back. I said that this was a problem you had tried to deal with right from the beginning but if she could get past the first part she'd enjoy it and that your other books in the series don't have that problem and that I admire your writing. I told her you paint pictures with words.

This was not good, not good at all. I thought I’d solved the problem, but if readers still couldn’t get through the first few pages of Embattled, they’d never finish it, let alone go on to read the rest of the series.

My dilemma now is how to fix it. Do I rewrite the first few chapters? Do I rewrite the whole book? I’m finished the series and my new work in progress is something entirely different. At the moment, my head is not back with Embattled and I don’t know what to do. I can’t see any fix in this.                     

Email from my writing partner:

She wrote back:

Darlene might want to revise her book and add a prologue…

That was my thought when I returned to the beginning.  All confusion could be remedied with a short prologue with the male character and his sister giving a bit of what is going on before you reach that page where it makes sense.  There does not have to be much…She might be losing a lot of readers by not grabbing them at the get go… 

OMG! Why hadn’t I thought of that? This could be a simple solution to what seemed to be a complex problem.

Email to my writing partner:

I'm struggling with a “fix." I’m not keen on a prologue as some readers skip those. And as Robert Sawyer says, “Start where the story starts.” Maybe I could add this as the first scene of chapter one. Trouble is, I'm not quite sure how to do it. 

Here's what I've come up with so far - pathetic attempt, but a start ... maybe. 

Email from my writing partner:

Yes! That works.

Encouraging words, but we’ve both worked on the book for such a long time, I’m not sure we’re seeing this as clearly as we should.

Email to my writing partner:

Do you think the lady who's reading my book would take a look and say if she thought it would help or not? 

Email from my writing partner:

Do you want me to send this to her? I'm sure she'd be thrilled to think you cared about her opinion.

I ask her to please send it. I’m so wrapped up in this now that I don’t just want to know her opinion; I need to know her opinion.

Email from my writing partner:

She says:

That is perfect!  What works is that now you know when Em starts bouncing that it makes sense…  One suggestion:  Change it from Chapter 1 to Prologue.

Hope this helps!

Yes! It helps. Actually, it’s a minor miracle for this author.

Thank you to this reader and all who are so helpful to authors.

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