Beta Phase Consensus

* Disclaimer #1: The beta phase isn't "over" in the sense that everybody's read it. I'm still getting feedback from some of the betas, and I hope to get more from those I haven't heard from. Even so, I have to move on or this thing will never be finished.

Disclaimer #2: There is no such thing as a consensus. Nobody ever agrees on anything.*** Quite the opposite in fact, as you'll see. All I can do is take what people think and decide to what extent I agree. Now onto the post.

*** Unless it's something stupid, like when I spelled a name "Lushita" and "Lusheeta" in the same paragraph. I think everybody caught that one :-P

The beta phase is over,* and the results are in!** After spending a day or two with the betas' comments and my own thoughts, here are some of the bigger problems I came away with:
  • Hagai's motivation to keep chasing the stone could be stronger.
  • Dorsey's motivation to stay at home, while Hagai joins Sam's crew, is pretty flat. (For those who aren't beta readers, Dorsey is Hagai's best friend.)
  • Hagai is a little too whiny at times.
  • The first 'Sam flashback' chapter is a bit jarring.
  • Something's wrong with the 'Sam in the Navy' chapter.
Let me talk about this Sam flashback thing a bit. One of the things I did with this novel (mostly because I didn't know any better when I planned it) was to intertwine two stories: the story of Hagai's search for his mother and the story of Sam's past and his search for his father. The first 4 chapters are Hagai's, then every other chapter after that. The odd chapters, 5-27, are Sam's.

The betas had mixed feelings about this. Strong mixed feelings in fact, and it's caused me no end of grief. Some people love the two stories, the way each informs the other, the way it never gave them opportunity to get bored. Some people hate them, getting annoyed each time the story "stopped" to talk about Sam some more.

You know what the worst part is? They're all right.

But it's helped me realize, even more clearly, that I can't please everybody. In the end, I have to decide what I want.

So Sam's story is staying, but I'm thinking of ways to make it tighter, more interesting, and also to clue the reader in early on that Air Pirates is not just about Hagai. I've already made plans to do major rewrites of 3 Sam chapters, and minor changes to 5 others. This is in addition to a massive reworking of the first 4-8 Hagai chapters.

So it might take a while, and I don't even know if it will work, but it will be better. In the end, that's all I can do.

Now, to figure out what's wrong with that Sam-in-the-Navy chapter...


Natalie Whipple said...

Okay, see, I never really got the motivation that Sam's looking for his dad. Not for a long time at least. If that would have been more prominent, I think that might have helped a lot.

Hilabeans said...

I'm in the same boat. Received a bunch of "improvement areas" from the editor. Labor of love, right?

Happy editing!


Adam Heine said...

Well, Natalie, like I said, it kind of wandered from that. It doesn't seem to be going back either :-/ I think it's more 'Sam's search to do the right thing (like his father)' or something.

Hilary, I've been wondering how your editing was going. At least it's just a single opinion, right? And professional at that. I've got 5-6 different opinions ranging from near-pro to layman. It's... complicated.

On the other hand, I guess we both got what we paid for, aye?

Anica Lewis said...

Obviously haven't read the story, but seeing your summary of issues here, the thing that stands out to me is how long you go with one character's POV before switching to another's. I'm glad that's something you're planning to address, because I can imagine it would be jarring! If it weren't for how much I've heard people hating on prologues, I'd wonder whether you could do a prologue in Sam's POV. Maybe a first chapter . . . ?

Adam Heine said...

Thanks for the input, Anica. I'm thinking about the prologue thing right now, actually. If I do it, it will be short. Like a page, I think.