Stomping Grounds

I’ve been writing and indy-publishing for a few years, and while I’ve learned some tricks of the trade, I’m a David in a land of Goliaths. I’m not a good or bad writer, but one who occupies my small part of the worldwide stage, and I’ve got strengths and weaknesses like everyone. My biggest weakness is my thin skin. I hate criticism, but I can’t grow as a writer unless I suck it up and stomp on my weaknesses.

My current work in progress is an exercise in stomping. I asked friends and family to be Beta readers for the first time, and their guidance was priceless in describing plot holes and my zealous affection for the word, “literally.” I don’t see these and other problems when I’m writing, perhaps because I’m too focused on the destination (“finish this damn thing right now”).

Part Two of my self-improvement exercise was employing a content editor (my last post), and the value of a disinterested party reading my WIP cannot be overstated. They have no personal stake, and they give valuable insight on areas in need of improvement, all with the goal of helping me offer the best product to my readers.

That’s not to say I wasn’t a little dumbfounded by the twenty-seven pages of feedback. Yikes.

My dark side had me focusing on the criticism, but at the same time, I’m a problem solver, so here’s what I’m doing in response the editor’s main critiques (underlined below).

Narrative voice could be better established/ironed out as third limited or omniscient.
I cannot stay in the right voice unless I’m writing in the first person. For this WIP, I waiver between writing as a god versus The God (also known as the omniscient voice). This problem is fixable and is taking up a lot of my editing time.

Exposition in places can drag down pacing.
I’m a teacher and lecturer at heart, and it’s painful to remove my beloved lessons from the book, but so be it. They’re gone. (Well, some of them.)

Ending doesn’t have the same parallelism as the opening.
Opening seems to promise more than final plot provides
Sticking these two points together since they’re linked, and I’m stumped because the Betas said the same thing. I love the opening chapter because I feel it grabs the reader’s attention, but everyone is right: the first chapter does not match the book. The idea of dumping and/or rewriting it is not fun. On the other hand, I got to be fair and square with my readers.

The Betas and the content editor agreed on the positives:
– Great interplay between characters.
– Well-developed character voices.
– Great conflict/excitement.

All is not lost! There’s a book here that can be saved if I grow up and let people help me. If you’re anything like me, then join me in taking this big step of stomping on your weaknesses. We’ll all be better writers for it.

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