Novel Update #3
It’s been a pretty eventfully month on my novel writing journey. Remember how I told you I submitted my manuscript to The History Quill‘s beta reader program? (A beta reader is someone who reads your book before it’s published and gives you feedback so you know if you are on the right track and/or where you need to make improvements.) They guarantee six readers but I had nine people sign up based on my description of the book. They gave me pages and pages of feedback, most of it really helpful.
Trouble the Water Book Summary:
In the brutality of 1740s, solicitor William Mackenzie must face his past when he’s tasked to travel to Virginia colony to rescue Annaliese, the abused daughter of the woman he betrayed, and deliver the girl to her aristocratic father in London. Secrets, lies and the hint of witchcraft, told from multiple points of view, complicate their struggle between redemption and revenge.
Overall Beta Reader Comments:
(When I’m having a bad day, I’m going to re-read these…)
- “This is a rich pudding of a novel.”
- “I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Reading through the eyes of many different characters helped me imagine in some part what life in the 1700’s was like on both sides of the coin. An affection for some characters, and a dislike, sometimes hatred for others grew as the story progressed.
- “The story was good with lots of action and interesting characters. There was lots of historical detail.”
Parts to Work On
There were a few criticisms…
- Some people felt the ending was a bit rushed
- My villain, Lady Margaret, needs to be developed more
- My novel is pretty violent in sections
The rushed ending is absolutely right. Remember how I told you last month that I’m a pantser instead of an outliner? Well, not knowing anything about the craft of fiction writing, I didn’t realize that most fictions are divided into three acts with Act I being 25,000 words, Act II being 50,000 words and Act III being 25,000 words. Guess how my story structure broke down? Act I – 60,000 words, Act II – 40,000 and Act III – 7,000 words…Oops. So, yeah, Act III was totally rushed.
I also agree I need to flesh out Lady Margaret. This month I’m going to do a deep dive into villains and channel my inner bad guy to rewrite her scenes.
As to the violence, the readers were split. Some liked that I didn’t whitewash history and others found it upsetting. I have to find the right balance.
Potential New Books in the Series
People wanted to know what happens to Annaliese (the ten-year-old abused child getting rescued) at school. Would she learn to become a lady? Will she eventually find a loving husband? Several requested a future romance novel.
The protagonist, William Mackenzie, is a barrister and readers want to see him in a legal drama. Would he represent the aristocracy or the common man? Will he have a role in the Scottish Rebellion?
Across the board everyone liked Chibuzo, a character kidnapped from Bight of Biafra and brought to Williamsburg as a slave. More than half suggested he get his own book in the series. That’s great feedback, because most of his storyline takes place in Act I, so by taking most of that out and giving him his own novella I get two books for the work of one and it gives me more space to flesh out Act III. Yay!
Armed with this feedback, I’m going back to ferocious self-editing. I completed the Jerry Jenkins Novel Blueprint course last week. One of the bonuses to the program is that I get to submit the first ten pages of my novel to an editor for feedback. I have until March 7 to get my first ten pages ready. After that, I’m finding an editor.
If you are writing a novel, how’s it going? I’d love to hear from you!
Here’s my story. (Available on Amazon)
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