Thursday, December 1, 2011

Another Review!

I mentioned yesterday (and I wanted to highlight/respond to it today), I had a review.  I've touched on my philosophy on reviews before, namely that I look at them as learning opportunities, and will probably respond to them on here.  I feel like it's an appropriate venue, and my intent is not to make excuses or contradict the review in any way, but to delve deeper into what I'm doing as a writer.

In addition, I wanted to point to the interview that went up immediately following the review, as well.  I'll probably reproduce that on here in a week or so, just to have around, though if you want the pictures, you're going to have to go there.  There's one of our rabbit, and one of my wife and I masquerading as Lannister twins.

So back to the review.  Hannah told me that she didn't particularly like the cover.  I've gotten some good feedback, and bad feedback about the cover.  It's definitely something we're going to improve on in future novels.  We're doing it all ourselves, so it's another part of the learning process.  I know my wife is particularly excited about the next one (which she's in the middle of creating).  Not that I think TBD's cover is blatantly bad or anything, it obviously works for some folks, it's just our first hack at things.  In particular, I love the spine of the printed version, but you don't that on the ebook.

Openings are still a struggle for me (as I believe they are for a lot of writers).  Hannah points that out in her review.  To me, it just seems hard to lay a foundation and make it really clean and interesting.  That's a place I need to study up on.  Once I get flowing, I think my voice really comes out and the stories really start to move.  I'm not entirely displeased with this, as I'd rather start slow and end strong than the other way around.  Still, masters of the craft can carry the whole book.  That's where I want to be.

My early intentions in both this book and my epic fantasy book were not to try and re-invent tropes, or bust the genre, but to take familiar things, and try to give them an interesting tweak here and there.  It's good to see that Hannah appreciated a lot of those decisions.  Though I wasn't really writing for a genre, it's good to know that fans will find some of the ideas familiar without being boringly similar.

I got dinged for clunky writing, especially with Michael's voice.  Obviously, that's something I really want to listen to and improve on.  Likely a lot of it stems from being an extremely raw author, and someone who is doing this in a very grassroots manner.  I sometimes think my writing is clunky, too, but I promise I'm trying my best (not that I think anyone doubts that).  Especially after reading some George RR Martin.  Ugh, I'm like a monkey with mittens on!  Still, the goal is to get there eventually.  It would be unreasonable to think I could get there now.  The key to take from the criticism is that I made my protagonist seem a little older than intended.  In the next book, I could probably use to loosen him up a bit.  Besides, he should be a bit less stressed now that he's come to terms with what he is, right?

I got props for emotional scenes.  That sparks a huge smile.  Don't take this the wrong way, but anytime you can make a reader cry, you're doing it right.  Tugging at emotions is a great thing.  Mission accomplished there, at least in this case.

The review from Brazen Broads was (I believe) from a reader more accustomed to romance.  Hannah (I think) is more accustomed to fantasy.  The critiques and props between the two agreed for the most part, except for one character: Kiara.  I find it interesting that Hannah liked her where the Broads didn't as much.  Not saying that one is right and the other is wrong.  Different strokes for different folks, and all that.  Plus, the Broads didn't exactly dislike her, so much as point out that I may have made her too mysterious.  A fair charge.

Those are just a few thoughts.  Overall, another great review.  Eventually, I may get to the point where I can't keep up with reviews, but for now they're few enough and far between that I like to discuss them. They help reinforce that I'm not entirely without some ability (some days you need that).  More important, they give me concrete things to focus on and improve on.  This is a learning process, after all.


Hannah said...

As I said, glad you liked it and happy to help in any way. :) You definitely do build up to a fantastically strong story and with the hints of things to come I honestly can't wait to see where you take it - though I'm also eager to see what you do with your epic fantasy!!

As for Kiara, I thought that the mystery added something to it. Obviously, sure, you don't want to overdo it, but you need something to keep the reader hanging on, wanting to know more. No mystery, why should we keep reading? So yes, I particularly liked that and she was a nicely cheerful character that kept the story light and fun! Especially her interactions with Matthias. I didn't want to risk spoilers in my review but I really enjoyed their banter! :)

I don't really need to say it, of course, but keep writing! You definitely have a talent. And don't compare yourself to Martin. Be something different! :D

Fulguralis said...

Thanks :-). Feel free to do spoilers in comments, I have a standing warning on my site. The perfectionist in me would say to find a way to retain the mystery and yet still let the reader connect fully with Kiara. Totally gold standard, and preserving the mystery came first, obviously.

As for Martin... well I could say Sanderson too, but both are badasses in my mind. I'm not going to copy either, though. Like, for Martin, I don't think I could use the "c word" as much as he does. XD

Hannah said...

Or Rothfuss. Or perhaps Hobb. I'd take any of those people's talent and steal it all away for myself happily. ;)

Matt said...

Now you're getting it :-).

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