There is a great line from a Jay Brannan song that says:I should have million of dollars, ’cause every asshole’s put two cents in.
I have been receiving a lot of useful feedback from the authors & readers at Authonomy. Most of the comments have been helpful in pointing out issues that my myopic view of the story won’t allow me to see. These suggestions have helped me further polish the narrative to a lustrous sheen.
As with opinions on any topic, many can be disregarded outright. This has become most apparent when receiveing reviews from readers who don’t normally delve into the fantasy genre. One issue that has been noted, is that the storia begins in media res. The stage is set, the characters are already in place, and the reader is allowed to sit around a campfire-of-sorts and join a conversation which has already begun. The backstory unfolds for the reader as the characters discover the truths for themselves.
I feel strongly about dropping the reader into the midst of the opening scene where they begin to learn about the world from the characters’ viewpoint. Having just been “reborn” in a sense, the characters are beginning their journey, and we are taken along for the ride. I found an interview of literary agent Laurie McLean by Stacey O’Neale here . Laurie addresses this issue in one of her responses.
Q: With fiction partials, what makes you stop reading and start skimming-or stop reading altogether?
A: The usual suspects. Grammatical errors, misspellings, too much exposition, too little character revelation, using too many words to say something, passive verbs, too little or too much world building, slow pacing, backstory, etc. In this modern age, and especially with fantasy, you need to pack as much power into your opening scene as possible. Your world should be front and center, but not so much that you slow the pacing of the action to a crawl. Banish backstory in this scene. Instead feather it throughout the manuscript-exactly what is needed exactly when the reader needs to know it, not before. And make your characters compelling. If the reader doesn’t like the character enough to want to take the journey of a story with them, you’ve lost me.
I may very well be using this excerpt as a proof-text to prove that my instinct is correct. That’s okay. I can bend a little on providing a bit more explanation up front if needed. CAPRITARE: The Cycles Begin doesn’t currently have a “Prologue”, so I can always add a lead-in if need be. But, I am going to hold out and wait for that recommendation to come from an agent, not a non-fantasy-reading-reviewer.
I’m with Jay. I ought to be a millionaire.