I didn't post in March, pretty much because I wasn't doing any serious work on my writing projects in March. Part of this was due to an increasingly busy work schedule (almost 1,000 students on property last week alone!), and part of it was due to the fact that was worn out and depressed with the whole query letter writing debacle. You may have noted I've already received one rejection for Kricket's Song, and I have one other query still out, with a response due back any time now. That's probably not a reflection on the book itself, but rather my query letter skills, which are still fledgling, I'm sure.
One of the big issues my beta reader brought up was that I don't fully establish setting in some of the scenes, and the reader is left guessing as to what exactly the physical setting is like. I read a book on how to establish setting, and now that I better understand how important it is to a novel--even a novel where the settings are mostly made-up--I'm actually a little excited to see how I can improve my settings. The key, of course, is to not go overboard with descriptions, and to somehow incorporate a vivid setting with the flow of good writing. Kricket's Song needs some work with that, and I've already done some of that.
My beta reader also brought up another issue, mainly that some of the "bad guys" really didn't seem all that believable or scary. The consequences for the main characters in encountering these bad guys aren't all that serious, and by about a third of the way through the book, the reader didn't feel all that concerned that the good guys would come out okay. That's definitely not the track I was aiming for, and I won't go into all the reasons I think it ended up coming out that way. The point is, I agree with what the beta reader has said, and now I have to figure out how to fix that.
My solution, right now, is to go back and rewrite some of the key scenes in which the main characters encounter these bad guys, and to rework some of the results of those encounters. The bad guys are going to conduct business a bit differently, and their efforts won't be as ineffective as before. A very important character is going to end up permanently maimed, and a secondary character is going to end up dead about halfway through the book. These changes will, of course, profoundly affect everything that comes after them. However, it's almost as if this new track I'm taking was really the one I had intended all along, because as I'm working these rewrites, I'm finding that all the elements I need are already there. I just have to tweak some of the details and rearrange some of the wording. Relatively speaking, these rewrites are going to be minor, I think. I'm already about 20% of the way through them, and I just started them today. We'll see if I remain this optimistic tomorrow!
All this to say, yes, I'm still working on Kricket's Song, and I think the end result will be even better than it was before. I kind of have the hunch that these issues are all that remain in keeping it from being a publishable book. But I'm still an amateur, and it's just a hunch. Time will tell. In the meantime, I won't be sending out any queries, as I want the product to be as finished and polished as I can get it before I try to sell it. And, the query letter may well be looked at again. THAT I am NOT looking forward to.
But one thing at a time, right?