Friday, October 08, 2010

Beta's and Stories Not Dying

I love my Beta readers. I truly do. They spot things I would never spot, and if their tastes are different from mine, then they're a little harder on my prose, and it makes me work harder.

But sometimes....

I have a world. It was built rather organically, over the time of about six years, and five drafts. So was my story. There was no planning aspect to it to start off with. So it more than definitely has it's problems. But when I've fixed one, another shows up.

Tonight was one such night. Nobody understood the world that Kira lived in, so I had to show them it. Because it's first person, and I was adverse to changing the story, I did that mainly through her thinking. It worked for one Beta. Another said it sort of worked. The third basically said (paraphrasing here): why the heck are you info dumping and why am I forgetting who your character is.



I spent the end of what has been a wonderful day mightily depressed. Because I believe that I have a good story here. I believe it has a reason for being. I love my characters.

But what is the point of all that if someone can barely get past the first chapter because of confusion issues? And how to get over the confusion issues if I can not feed out the information (in small chunks, but still, not absolutely huge amounts). there is way too much info that HAS to be understood in order to get on with the plot as it. Believe me, when I started this, I had none of that info in there. It confused the hell out of those that read it.

But the thing is, the point of this story has never been the plot. The plot is better than it was at the start, and it may continue to get better. What I have realised is that a number of things have stayed continuous over all those drafts. They are the major turning points and inciting incident.

And as long as they, and the characters, stay the same, it's still the same story. It may be different in its execution, but it is forever the same. Because the message I want to get across is still the same. That message being: There is no right or wrong side. Everyone believes they are right. And so when my main character if thrown into this world, as long as she meets the same opposition, the story is intact.

How she gets through those points is up for debate. I like what I've got, but I could make it better. I may try to. In fact, I think I will. There are two chapters that will remain largely similar. The rest of the first six chapters are important for the introduction. But they can be done differently.

My character needs to meet the Manda, my world has to be introduced, and someone else has to die and deliver and object into her hands by the end of it. I can still do all that, with the same sort of tension, by writing the start differently.

The thing that amazes me is that there have been several of these moments thus far. These moments run along the lines of : "oh god, why don't I give up and go to the next one (project, book, whatever)."

Then I get over myself, my story pops back up and say: Hey, I'm still the same in essence.

I find it ironically amusing, myself.

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