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.