I'd been waiting a while for feedback from one of my beta readers, and was a little nervous about what he'd say as
a) I'm writing primarily for women and he's most definitely male
b) said beta reader has been writing professionally since before I was born
Anyway, he called me when he'd finished reading the manuscript, and we were discussing various aspects - mostly concentrating on overall style, and suspense/pacing/timing issues.
As we were talking, I had an odd feeling of deja vu, because we got onto the subject of how to deal with story arcs in multi-book series. In my earlier drafts of this manuscript, I'd basically concentrated on providing the first installment of a longer story arc I'd envisaged would play out over a planned trilogy. Unfortunately, that meant I'd neglected to provide a smaller story arc which could reach completion within the first book - and none too surprisingly, readers had said the story felt unfinished. Incomplete.
I should mention at this point that my last batch of revisions were specifically designed to address some of these issues, and I added a total of around 16,000 words to the manuscript, including a completely new ending among other things.
So...we were chatting away, and I was starting to get the feeling that all my revisions hadn't made the difference I'd hoped to the end effect. Because it seemed that for this beta reader at least, the story still wasn't complete. Or wasn't complete enough.
"So you didn't feel that the blah blah blah provided a complete story arc?" I questioned cautiously.
There was a confused silence.
"I don't think I remember that bit," he said at last.
The reason for the misunderstanding was fairly simple in the end. Turned out that due to a digital filing malfunction, he'd actually read my earlier, pre-revision draft. The one that was more than 10,000 words lighter, with the old ending.
Once we'd got that established, there was definitely a moment when I thought "Phew!" and metaphorically wiped my brow.
Of course, there's no guarantee that he'll think I've got it right in the revised version either, but I'm feeling a little more hopeful.
Anything like this ever happened to you? And any thoughts on story arcs and ways to deliver readers a feeling of completion by the story's end?