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GuestBooker 2.1

January 19, 2011

An ooops! moment

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?


Rachael Harrie said...

Oh dear. Bet that was a gut-wrenching moment when you wondered what you needed to change! Glad it was just a computer bug :)

Story arcs...hmm. I guess I've written my book as a stand alone, but with lots of little twists/set-ups that will work in my planned series. I'm hoping that those little set-ups aren't enough to give a feeling of incompleteness. I guess I'll see... ;)


Alison Stevens said...

How frustrating. At least you figured out the immediate problem. I hope the beta thinks your revisions addressed the issue.

I had the same problem with one of my stories. It was incomplete for exactly the same reason; I thought it would be the first in a trilogy. I went back and rewrote about 3/4 of it, to create a solid story arc for this book. Now it could stand alone (I think, still waiting on my beta), but it leaves open the possibility of future events to come.

Good luck on yours!

Hart Johnson said...

Ack! Hope he wasn't too put out over that! It is so easy to send wrong versions if you aren't careful. Glad though, that the big changes you need are ones you've already done!

The Sisterhood said...

Patience is about the only words of advice I can give you. It's always kind of a nail-biting experience waiting for your work to be critiqued. Also, thanks for dropping by the Sisterhood and leaving a comment!

♥ Mary Mary

Su said...

Oh, dear... that must have been a frustrating conversation until you realised what the problem was! Unfortunately, I can give no suggestions... but I hope by the time you're published, you can hand out the good advice like proverbial candy. :)

Adina West said...

Thanks all. :-)

Y'know, now the problem is he's already read the earlier version, and put all that time in, and there's no way I can hurry him along with reading it for the second time. Will let everyone know if/when I do hear back on my new version!

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