Tag Archives: beta readers

Chronicles of the Sentinels – Target Audience

Hi everyone!

As many of you read in my last article, agent Lucienne Diver of The Knight Agency asked me to send her 30 pages and a synopsis after my pitch at the Colorado Gold conference!  I’m still so excited!  I also promised to tell you all more about what happened in that pitch, so here we are, as promised :)

The story actually started the day before my pitch to Ms. Diver.  Saturday, when I attended a class she hosted called “When is it YA?”  I discovered something: in my attempts to write a Young Adult novel, I had actually written an Adult Fantasy.  (She recently posted her presentation on her blog, check it out!)

Before anyone gets the wrong impression (too late?) I want to clear up some definitions here.  In the publishing industry, an adult fantasy does not mean it is a sexually-oriented novel.  That would actually fall under erotic literature.  Adult fantasy means the fiction is targeted for an audience 18 years or older.

As I sat in the class, one thing started to become apparent: Chronicles of the Sentinel was not, by the industry’s definition, a YA story.  The most obvious reason was that the 3 main characters are 22 years old.  While a 22 year old person is actually considered a young adult, in the publishing industry, YA ends at 18.

University of Colorado - Denver campus
University of Colorado – Denver campus

More than that, it’s also what the story covers.  While Chris, Emmi and Alycia are college students, the majority of the story does not take place at school.  In fact you only see the college campus in chapter 1, and that’s it.  They are very much college-age individuals dealing with personal and interpersonal issues you might expect from college students, but these issues also easily bleed through into the post-college realm.

After discussing this with Ms. Diver during my pitch, I was surprised when she told me that marketing CotS for adults rather than YA was a good thing.  It has become difficult to sell YA Fantasy in the current market, but Adult Fantasy is selling.  In other words, it would be easier to get CotS published as an Adult Fantasy at this time.

From Just Right to Too Short

This has one unfortunate side effect: at just over 72,000 words, CotS:Legacy was just the right length for a YA novel.  But for adult fiction, it falls short of the generally accepted minimum of 80,000 words.

That means I have some work to do.  Ms. Diver pointed out that it could still work at 72k, but if possible to expand on it before sending her my 30 pages and synopsis.  So that is what I have set out to do!

For starters, I’m reading through the novel chapter-by-chapter and, where I feel it is needed or appropriate, I am enriching the language.  While I’m only 4 chapters in as of last night, I’m already realizing a mistake I had made: thinking that I needed to keep the language super simple for YA readers.

Image Source - lordsofanthair.com
Image Source – lordsofanthair.com

The fact of the matter is, young readers read up in age (a fact I learned at the conference.)  I know I did, I was reading adult-targeted fiction since before I even started writing.  I remember reading Lord of the Rings at age 11, and while I found it excruciatingly boring in parts (which I still do, even though I love it!), I devoured it and finished very quickly!

I should have never written down in the first place.  So in all honesty, going back through CotS:Legacy now, I’m really glad to be able to make the small changes and additions.  I don’t know that doing so by itself will make the novel reach 80k words, but it’ll be worth it, and so far in 4 chapters I’ve increased the word count by about 500.

Alycia’s Development

Photo Source - http://mainlineoptix.com
Photo Source – http://mainlineoptix.com

One thing I’d like to do is increase Alycia’s character development.  Like Emmi and Chris, she does go through a change in book 1, but it is much less pronounced, and I felt in the end that I hadn’t given her as much attention as I should have.

So that is something else I’ve been doing as I’ve gone along.  I’ve given her more attention, let her come alive as all good characters do, and this will be an additional focus throughout the novel.

I do not want to add anything arbitrary, but I want readers to have the chance to fall in love with her!  So instead of massive sections here and there that would ruin the flow of the story as it stands, I’m adding tidbits here and there, little character nuances to give her life.

Deadline?

Ms. Diver did not give me a deadline for when I should submit the pages to her, but this is my life, and just as I did while I first wrote CotS, I’m treating it like a 2nd full-time job.  So I’m giving myself a deadline of completing this revision by Sunday.  I don’t know that I’ll actually succeed, but it is an attainable goal.

I’d like to try to then read through the novel one more time, to ensure I didn’t mess up the flow.  Right now, it seems like it flows very well, and beta readers seem to agree with that!  I don’t want to sacrifice that flow just for an extra thousand words.

Final Thought – I’m Relieved It’s Not YA

Some of you might be surprised to read that, but honestly I’m glad to be writing in Adult and not YA, for one important reason: as I’ve started developing book 2, I’ve realized that fitting that story into a YA-length novel would be difficult at best.

But with 80 to 90k words to work with, I think book 2 will fit the bill perfectly, and will leave me room to develop all 3 of the protagonists as deeply as I want :)

As always, I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts!

Thanks for reading,
-Jon Wasik

CotS – Legacy Chapter 14 Excerpt

Hi everyone!

Today’s excerpt comes from another chapter in Emmi’s point of view.  I developed Emmi’s character about as much as I did the main character, Chris, and I think she’s someone a lot of young adult women will be able to connect with.  At least, that is my hope.

What Claire might look like (Image Source - Google Images)
What Claire might look like (Image Source – Google Images)

In this chapter, she is confronted by Nabu’s current consort, Claire.  I don’t want to reveal the circumstances behind this confrontation, but suffice it to say, Emmi is at a considerable disadvantage here, and Claire knows it.

As you’ve all seen, I’ve used photos of real people (some actors/actresses, some not) to kind of show what a character might look like.  For Claire, she is a former Sentinel turned to Nabu’s side through manipulation and deceit.  I could imagine Katee Sackhoff playing her because of the actress’s ability to be strong, both physically and emotionally, but also because she has a very human side, she does feel emotion.  In Battlestar Galactica, I think she performed that complicated role very well!

———————————————————————————-

Emmi frowned and shook her head, “Why Chris? What the hell is so special about him?”

“Oh it isn’t just him,” Claire turned fully towards her. “It’s all of you. He just fears Chris the most.” Emmi looked at her in surprise, and a moment later Claire closed her eyes and clenched her teeth. She probably realized she shouldn’t have let Emmi know about that.

“Why would he fear Chris?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Claire shook her head and opened her eyes to glare at Emmi. “Just know that he needs all three of you.  And I will make sure,” she took one menacing step towards her, “that his infatuation for you wanes, and he will sacrifice you.”

———————————————————————————-

Image Source - Google Images
Image Source – Google Images

I hope you all enjoyed this!  I’m not sure I’ll be posting many more excerpts, I’m worried about saturating too much, like when previews give away too many important plot points (for instance, Terminator Salvation’s previews ruined what could have been one of the greatest surprises in the franchise!)

What do you all think?  Do you want to see more, or would you rather wait for the novel to be published?

On a related note, I’ve heard some feedback from beta readers lately, and it has all been good!  I am so excited to hear that, everything they’ve said was exactly the kinds of reactions I wanted from readers :D  I can’t wait to share this novel with the world!

Thanks for reading :)
-Jon

Chronicles of the Sentinels – Legacy

Hi everyone!

Last night, I finished the 2nd revision of book 1 of the Chronicles of the Sentinels!  :D  This was an exciting milestone, because it means that I finally, finally get to share the novel with others!

Every single milestone in writing a novel is exciting to me, and as I’ve said before, the actual writing stage is my favorite.  However, the idea that new eyes will get to read the story is so exciting to me!  What will they think about it?  How will they interpret it?  All of the subtle little subtext I put in, will they see it?

Most of all, I hope that it sparks the imagination of those who read it.  I hope they finish this relatively short novel and go “That was exciting!  Where’s book 2?”

In fact, I’ve already sent my novel out to I think 8 beta readers (and am about to send it to a 9th :) )  I am so excited and looking forward to seeing their responses!!

The Titles of Chronicles

As you can see from the title of this blog article, I finally came up with a name for the 1st book, simply, “Legacy.”  I reserve the right to change that, of course, but I think it fits the story nicely :)

More than that, I kind of have some ideas for titles for all 3 books by keeping to the simplicity of it.  So while every novel’s title will begin with “Chronicles of the Sentinels,” the individual book’s title will be 1 descriptive word.

I don’t want to reveal all of the titles right here, for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is I may change them after writing the novels.  Also, there is a certain hype that comes with revealing a novel’s title, so I want to save that for when I’m hyping the 2nd and 3rd books :)

So, book 1 is officially called: Chronicles of the Sentinels – Legacy

What next?

Well, for starters, I wait for beta readers to finish and give feedback.  I hope to hear back from at least a couple of them before the writing conference.

Image Source - http://www.rmfw.org/
Image Source – http://www.rmfw.org/

The next milestone is the Writer’s Conference in September, and for that, I need to start researching how to pitch a novel, and start practicing!  2 weeks isn’t a long time to figure out how to do something I’ve never done before.  However, if I continue to treat this as part of the writing process, IE: put hours into it every day, I’m confident I’ll be ready :)

Do any of my fellow writers out there have any advice on pitching a novel in person?  What are your experiences?

Oh, and before I forget, the numbers from revision #2!

Chronicles of the Sentinels – 3rd Draft by the Numbers

There may still be some revisions after I get feedback from beta readers, but here it is, as polished as I can make it right now :)

Word Count: 72,970
Page Count: 226

That’s almost 100 words more than the 2nd draft, so there was a net increase.  Interesting since there were, in some cases, whole sentences I removed, others I tightened up.

Thanks for reading, everyone!
-Jon

Chronicles of the Sentinels – 1st Revision Completed!

Hi everyone!

I’m happy to announce that I’ve completed the 1st revision of Chronicles of the Sentinels!

1st printed copy of Chronicles of the Sentinels book 1
1st printed copy of Chronicles of the Sentinels book 1

What does this mean?  Well for starters, it means I’m one step closer to sending it out to beta readers.  I continue to follow my writing process, which I wrote a two-part article about, and so tonight I printed out a hard-copy of the manuscript and will begin the 2nd proofread tomorrow.  I usually catch a lot more and red-ink in a lot more revisions in this step, plus I just like reading paper better than on a laptop :)

When I told one of my friends that I finished read-through #1, she asked me, “So what did you think?”  Well, I like it!  For starters, it made me laugh throughout the novel, not non-stop but lots of little moments here and there.  The fact that I’m laughing at it when I wrote it is pretty good: I don’t usually do that in my own novels.  I hope beta readers laugh as much as I did :)

It’s actually the shortest novel I’ve ever written, the previous three novels were all high-fantasy and usually well over 300 pages.  So it packs a lot of punch for only 220+ pages!  A lot happens, including some awesome character moments!  I don’t know if it is because of all of the pre-writing work I did or what, but all of the characters and their interactions came out very well, in my opinion :)

Image Source - http://branislavboda.deviantart.com
Image Source – http://branislavboda.deviantart.com

I think Emmi definitely goes through the most difficulties in the story, however not only does that pave the way for character development in book 1, it opens the door for a lot more in book 2!  I think the development for Chris and Alycia is a lot more subtle, so I’ll be interested to hear what readers think about each of them :)  There’s so much I want to talk about in the novel, but I don’t want to spoil it all for everyone!

I still haven’t decided on a volume title for this first novel, and that’s starting to bother me.  It’s getting down to the wire and I really have to make a decision.  I think that’ll be the last hurdle I need to overcome before I send it to beta readers.  I want to give them as complete a package as possible.

Chronicles of the Sentinels – 2nd Draft By the Numbers

A little change from the 1st revision, which I had documented in this article.

Word Count: 72,872
Page Count: 226

I’ll be curious to see how big of a difference revision #2 makes :)

Thanks for reading!
-Jon