So what happened to Tilruna: Fall of House Andes? The beta-feedback came in, I did my thinking, and shared my decision with my newsletter subscribers. If you missed it, aren’t yet subscribed, or if your email program is eating my weekly newsletter, here’s the update.
A good beta-reader will articulate what works and doesn’t work for them. Their investment of time in your work should never be taken for granted. The difference between a good and a great beta-reader is when they are able to put their pulse on something that is profound. On the positive side, it can help you realize what elements truly worked and why, helping you see the story for what it is and not just what you thought it might be. On the negative side, it can be having the courage to tell you exactly why it didn’t work for them and giving you enough to think about that allows you to make the story even better.
July 23rd was the deadline for beta-readers of Tilruna: Fall of House Andes. Some people had beta-read for me before, and some were brand new. Everyone gave excellent feedback, I was really impressed and humbled. 90% of the people loved the story, the incorporation of the Shakespearean Hamlet elements, and identified one or two things that could use tweaking. Of the remaining 10%, they had slightly bigger issues but nothing that knocked me back on my heels, save for one person. We’ll get to that in a minute.
When I first started writing Tilruna: Fall of House Andes, it was to be part of an eBook boxset with a maximum word count of 40k and a deadline of August. I was already starting to work on Tilruna: Season One, and thought of T:FoHA as a prequel, an extra background story that would be kind of cool. It would allow me to have multiple stories, in rapid succession, to help anchor my new fantasy/space-opera universe.
Hang on, that picture’s not even close to me these days. A suit? I haven’t worn a suit since I helped Noah with the arc.
Hmm, a bit closer, and I do like my smart, strong female characters a lot. But that doesn’t seem quite right either. I’m sure something will come to me. Anyway, where were we?
I set the beta feedback deadline to be a week before August 1st, so that I would have time to do minor fixes before sending the story off for the boxset. Then as I awaited the beta-feedback, the deadline moved. It didn’t move just by a few weeks, it moved by 3-4 months, and then became unclear to me whether or not it was really going to happen.
The more that I got into T:FoHA, the more I started putting into it so that it could connect heavily with what was to come. It was shifting from ‘extra book’ or ‘prequel’ to cornerstone of the new universe.
So when the date slipped and the beta-feedback started coming in, I was in heavy internal debate on every front. I was having my serious author-doubts that this was any good.
Then the beta-reader feedback started rolling in, and I came to see what I’d put together was holding together very well. It turned out I’d already addressed some of the areas to tweak during my latest revision. Then one of my closest friends, and highly critical (in a very good way) beta-readers, gave me her feedback. It boiled down to a few things:
- The story felt like I was holding back, rushing a few things, using summary word and descriptions where I should really be going for it. She had no idea about the 40k limit and genesis of the story.
- This book had the opportunity to be epic if only I let it be.
- This book could easily be twice the size and be fantastic.
She is awesome, and was afraid that I would be angry or upset, but I wasn’t. I really appreciated the last book of mine that she read and the feedback that she’d given me. I do know some people who say “Oh, her? She’s too picky” but I think they miss the opportunity to hear someone who is willing to get very precise (and who makes an insane amount of notes) about why and how something bothered her.
As I sipped my tea and listened, and then discussed points with her, part of me was yelling “Yes! Yes! Oh dear god yes! Through off the shackles and let me breath into this what I know it has needed!”
And so I made the description to push it back from September 2017 to April 2018. Do I need that much time? No, but I’m not going to rush it. I have a few other projects I’m going to complete and get out WHILE I’m allowing all the little details to seep out of my imagination and on to the page. I’ve also just booked a week writing retreat in October to go it with a vengence.
When I shared this news on my newsletter, the feedback from some of the beta-readers was fantastic. My favorite was “OH YES! I wanted to say that, but I knew how you were planning on releasing it and thought it was still good, but YES! YES MAKE THIS EPIC!” Now those beta-readers also know that they don’t have to hold back, I’m not one of those author types.
So there you have it. And after Tilruna: Fall of House Andes, you can expect to hear about Tilruna: Fate of the Yorrick… maybe for the Fall? We’ll see.