Now I do drafts. Drafts have goals.
- I may or may not have an outline, but the goal is to get something, anything, out there. Result: one horrifically shitty first draft.
- Fix gaping structural flaws. Result: One continuous story.
- Fix the remaining problems I am capable of seeing for myself. Result: One story I am comfortable having other people read.
- Fix the problems the beta readers found. Result: (I hope) One story I am comfortable submitting to agents.
First, because I like good things, here are some of the positive things people said about the draft:
- "very professional"
- "amazing, awesome concept"
- "nice energy"
- "a grand adventure"
- "powerful playing with language" (this might be my favorite compliment ever)
- "way more way faster"
- "tighten up the pacing"
- MC's motives fuzzy
- one reader had a big issue with my version of Gawaine
- MC "slippery", "flip-flops"
- sketchy description
- "orientation issues"
- "murky scene transitions"
- MC "some depth missing" "don't always know where she stands"
- some confusion on the magic system for one reader
- finale "needs more fireworks"
- "wanted connection to art tighter"
- "want more drama in her life"
- why not (villain) seduce her
- "doesn't seem black"
- need to know more about relationship with (other character)
I'm of two minds about a suggestion to rearrange one significant plot point to come earlier in the book; given that only one person seemed to find the pacing a problem, I'm likely to move cautiously there.
I'm also of two minds about Gawaine. There are smallish things I can do that will improve his characterization, and a few more things I can do to explain the changes in it, but if anyone out there is reading this and expecting Excalibur, they're doomed to disappointment. I'm not at all sure how familiar most readers are with this material. People seem to like the BBC Merlin, which makes my revisioning of the Malory version look downright timid.
Murky scene transitions and readers not being able to figure out what's going on in the MC's head, though, those are issues I need to fix. Even if it's only a subset of readers who were bothered, it's the kind of thing where fixing it will only help everyone. Unfortunately, it's kind of the toughest thing to fix. I know what's going on in her head at all times, so it's really easy to be blind to what I'm failing to put on the page.