Lost In Velen.

Oops.

Somehow an entire month+ has slipped by since my last blog, wherein I reviewed Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Last Wish, in preparation for playing The Witcher 3.

Why? What’s been going on with my life and, more importantly, what’s been going on with Temporary to explain the unexpected sabbatical?

Well, the answer is oh-so-discreetly alluded to above: I’ve been lost traversing Velen, Novigrad and Skellige in pursuit of Ciri, filling the boots of monster hunter extraordinaire, Geralt of Rivia.

As lost as I’ve been within The Witcher 3’s expansive, impressive, detailed, and immersive lands, losing myself amongst its lore, people, and cultures, things haven’t entirely stopped on the Temporary front. Far from it.

Whilst I’ve been engaged, perhaps to the point of an unhealthy obsession, with Gerald’s world, my manuscript is in the process of being read and, in one case, being reread by a few key beta readers.

This is the only way I can justify the time I’ve spent within The Witcher 3 – a personal reward of sorts, for finishing another redraft. The only thing I hadn’t expected was how long this game is, and how captivating its side quests are.

I’m not normally a side quest sort of gamer – the main story is always what drives me to play, and side quests simply distract from it, with minor issues that pale in comparison to the more pertinent narrative. Mass Effect is a great example of this. Why partake in a number of side quests when I need to, y’know, save the goddamn universe. Right?

The Witcher 3 is different however, and I think it’s due to how the side quests tie directly into what Geralt’s character is all about. He’s a Withcer, a Monster Bounty Hunter for the uninitiated – so taking on random side quests, although still distracting from the far too overly simplistic ‘find Ciri’ story, is a lot more believable than in other universes I’ve been in.

This willingness to participate in those diatribes however have lent towards a bloated play time, as I run around completing tasks and hunting down monsters for helpless townsfolk. It’s a great world to be a part of, and one that I’m still enjoying as I await further beta feedback.

That’s not to say that I haven’t been working on projects however. I’ve been kicking up research for another book idea, totally different to Temporary – not only in tone, but audience. It’s required me to do some research into a totally different genre of book, but the research and readings I’ve done so far have been rewarding, leaving me excited to start penning the first of what will hopefully become a series. Watch this space, and remember the concept of the lucha.

But what about Temporary?

I’ve been the recipient to some more feedback in regards to the manuscript. Feedback reports, being what they are, don’t tend to revel too deeply with the positives, eschewing them to instead get right to the point. Some of this wasn’t easy to read, but will hopefully prove indispensable in the long run. It’s tough to think big picture sometimes, but once the feedback has digested, it helps to always put it against the larger goal.

I’ve yet to receive beta feedback from a few others that currently have it, but I’m interested in seeing whether their feedback will correlate with the notes I currently sit on. This is where it becomes more difficult: at what point is the feedback undeniably on point, and not simply based in personal opinion? Conversely, when is the feedback slightly off point and based solely on one persons interpretation?

Sometimes a bag is needed, rather than just a pinch.

A pinch of salt is needed when dealing with feedback from anybody, on any project. It’s something I’m used to from the numerous script rewrites I’ve done in the past, especially during my Uni days – though those are depressingly far behind me.

It’s interesting too, to see other, published, authors doing things that have been called up in your manuscript as being ‘wrong’, which is something I’m discovering currently with my read through of the amazing American Gods, by Neil Gaiman.

It’s always disheartening, depressing even, to question whether a project is even worth your time anymore. To get lost in a mindset where you can no longer see the woods for the trees. I believed my manuscript to be well paced, with a constant, albeit slow burn, progression for my characters, leading towards a natural ending/conflict.

The feedback I’ve received belies this, suggesting that there isn’t as much agency in my characters arcs as I had thought.

I consider myself to have a good grasp on story arcs, as well as personal character arcs, thanks to my background in screenwriting (you don’t need to tell me about how novel writing is a totally different animal – believe me, I know haha!), and believe that there are transferable skills, and thought processes, between the two that would help me with this new venture.

I still believe this to be true, but if enough feedback comes back suggesting otherwise, I’m not too sure about what to do in order to quicken the pace, or to add the agency that has been critiqued, but not really extrapolated upon. This will be something I’ll have to address if, and when, it comes to it.

I anxiously await the feedback from the other beta readers in order to compare, correlating any major issues to allow me a greater sense of that bigger picture. If enough people have identical issues with elements of the manuscript, then that clearly indicates a problem, and no matter the amount of “you simply don’t understand my genius” bullshit any writer may lobby in defence, you can’t really argue.

Is it ever really a case of people not understanding your “genius”, or is it simply a creative soul protecting their baby in any way they can justify?

I’m willing to put money down on my answer, though maybe, just maybe, it’s a mixture of the two?

Maybe; maybe not.

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