Saturday, November 9, 2013

Learning a lot

Feedback is beginning to come in from my beta readers for Maxwell Volume 3. It's clear that I have a lot of work to do in tightening things up, largely due to the book having been written in some haste to meet my self-imposed deadline.  Publishing four books in a planned seven months was definitely 'a book too far'!  It'll certainly stretch to 7½ months, and perhaps to 8.

I'm still battling to come to terms with the issue of 'conflict', in the way that word is applied in modern literature.  I was raised with more classical reading matter, where the edgy, conflict-ridden themes of modern books would have been regarded with dismay, and probably rejected outright. (Think, for example, of early Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, Lewis and Tolkien - they're among my formative influences, and very different from contemporary SF and fantasy authors.)  There were differences of opinion, there were obstacles to be overcome, but 'conflict' wasn't on every page. Rather, it was something where there had to be a winner and a loser, and the outcome would damage the latter.  I still don't understand how the term evolved into the way it's applied to books today.

I'm going to try to introduce more 'conflict' to my protagonist, because many readers of the first two books complained that there wasn't enough of it:  that Steve Maxwell was a 'golden boy' who got all the breaks, and never had to struggle for anything.  I didn't see it that way, but clearly, my perspective has been colored by a different reading pattern and by being brought up in a different culture.  I thought I had more of it in the third volume, but clearly there isn't enough, as some of the same complaints are being made.  I'm going to go through those comments very carefully, and try to absorb a sense of how the book is being read and/or received, rather than how I'm writing it.  I need to put myself more into an American reader's shoes if I'm to understand how they see it.

I may delay the release for a week or two in order to rewrite certain sections to incorporate these 'lessons learned'.  It might be December 15th instead of the beginning of the month (although I'm going to shoot for as early a release date as possible - I don't want to miss the Christmas shopping season).  I may put out the Kindle version first, with the print edition following a few days later, so as to speed things up.  Rest assured, I'll work on it as fast as possible.

Thanks very much to all my beta readers, and to all of you who've corresponded with me about Maxwell 1 and 2, or left reviews on Amazon about it.  I'm taking everyone's input very seriously.  I hope you'll see the improvement when Maxwell 3 is released.



wordlet said...

I think delaying it is a good idea if you're going to try to solve such a fickle thing like conflict. It's not as simple as adding a few more obstacles in the character's path. I think it has to be something the character wrestles with throughout the whole book.

I think the majority of the readership of indie kindle books are very forgiving (particularly in scifi) with the first couple books from an author. I can think of a ton of books I've read in the past few years that had problems with the protagonist being spoon fed from a silver platter. You're definitely not the worst at this, in fact the presence of this fault is pretty minor. (For example, his friend/mentor (spoilers) dies, something that you wouldn't typically find on a silver platter)But, even for minor issues, after the first couple of books, readers start getting more critical, so It's good that you're working hard to improve rather than finish quickly.

Unknown said...

HI Peter,
I have read your first two books with pleasure, and while I agree some things have come easy to the protagonist, they are not unbelievable. The factor I find hard to believe is that a very competent criminal organization will go for his lie hook line and sinker. If you add any conflict that is the place to do it. Also just a note, I read your first book because Larry Correia posted a link to it.