As per usual, I went to visit my wife today, and I went in with the knowledge that she’d proofed Hungry Mountains. Most of her feedback was standard stuff – she pointed out a rather gaping plot hole, and advised on how to rewrite the major fight scene of the book to be a bit less repetitive.
And then she hit me with the big one – our two best friends are married, and Becky had gone to visit Bex today. It turns out I have a full editorial team I didn’t even know about.
“Alright – Me, Becky and Ste all agree that you need to do something about your characterisation.”
“There needs to be more of it. A lot more. In fact, you don’t really have much characterisation at all at the moment. I don’t even know what your characters look like, because you haven’t really described them.”
At this point Bex gave me a rather stern look.
“You need to sort that out.”
And after thinking back on it, she’s right. When I started writing Blood and Fang, it was only really going to be a short story – and you can get away with being a bit brisk on the characterisation front in those, so it never really got put in. Then I started expanding it into a full novel, but the first story never really outgrew it’s roots and so is decidedly lackluster in the character descriptions department – on top of that, there aren’t any real descriptions later on in the story, because of it’s expansion, but if I’m serialising it I really need to make sure that readers can pick up any of the books and get an image of the characters. And the guys are right – there’s no real excuse for that at this point, especially when I’m asking people to pay for the privilege of reading it.
Thankfully, today has fallen in such a way that I was able to write 500 words on The Devil’s Regiment before I headed out to see Bex. This is good, because it means I can have an enjoyable – and I’m not using that sarcastically – evening going back and doing some rewrites to Blood and Fang and Hungry Mountains.
I’m actually a bit disappointed with myself. Even when I’m writing pulpy entertainment, this is sloppy work. Thankfully, I can be bailed out slightly by the way Kindle books operate – namely that you can update your stories post publication -0 and people who’ve already got the book can receive those updates. This is also an advantage of starting small – I can get these updates into place without too much impact on my reader base. In a way, the annoying thing is that this won’t even cost me an awful amount of effort. I’m already spotting places I can slip descriptions into it.
Mainly though, the best thing about this is knowing I have friends who’ll point this stuff out to me and keep me on track. You’re an awesome bunch.