Last week, I was ready to jump on the self-publishing bandwagon. My story was good enough, I thought. I’m ready to be done with this Paladin business and move onto Uriel.
A lot can change in a week.
On Tuesday, I spoke at length with an editor whose publishing company was considering my manuscript. He had read my first five chapters and a two-page synopsis.
“Here’s what I’m not following,” he said. “What is the main conflict in your story?”
“Well, there are lots of conflicts,” I replied. “But the big one is the tension between the Paladins and the Uriel, and the eventual realization that the High Commander is evil.”
“That’s what I thought,” he said. “And what role does Sam play in this conflict?”
I had to think about it for several minutes. “Um, well, the High Commander wants her dead because Braeden loves her, and that affects his ability to control him.”
“Okay. But that’s Braeden’s story, not Sam’s. How is Sam central to the conflict?”
I racked my brain for an answer, and found none. “I guess she isn’t.”
“Yyyeeahhh…that’s a problem. You’ve got a serious flaw with your plot.”
Goddamnit, he was right. “That’s not an easy fix, is it?” I asked.
“No. No, it’s not.”
It wasn’t the only thing the editor said needed fixing. My world building? Hazy at best. My exposition? Far too much of it. And my similes? He didn’t pull any punches–my similes, at least in the first five chapters, are atrocious.
“I actually like your writing,” he said. So there was that.
The sad thing is that as he explained to me the why behind his criticism, I saw that he was right in every regard. The similes, the world building, the overabundance of exposition — those are, if not easy, at least doable fixes. The plot, on the otherhand, needs a serious overhaul, and there’s just no getting around that. I feel like someone just took off my blindfold.
So what does that mean for Paladin? It means a massive, massive rewrite, and for starters, it means I have to completely reconfigure my plot. I now see that Paladin is fundamnetally flawed–and before I even think about publication, I need to fix it. It will be a tremendous, time consuming, and likely frustrating endeavor.
Some of you who like Paladin might be balking at this decision. Don’t change it, you might be thinking. It’s good the way it is.
When I say I’m going to rewrite Paladin, I’m not going to change everything. While I recognize now that it has serious issues, I still don’t think it’s terrible. I’m proud of my character development and I love the romance between Braeden and Sam, and the dynamic of the trio. I want to preserve as much of that as I can. That plot line — the romance thread — is the most fleshed out in the novel, and while the details may change, those relationships will not. I won’t allow it.
I don’t want to abandon the original plot completely — nor do I want to make Braeden the main protagonist of the story — but unless I can come up with a way to make Sam central to the Paladin/Uriel conflict, I’m going to have to make very significant changes. Basically, I need to come up with a better reason for the High Commander to want to kill Sam. His motives in general need to be clearer, but his main motivation should be to destroy Sam. I have yet to figure out the why of it — but it essentially means there needs to be something special about her, beyond the fact she’s a female wielding a sword. She needs to be the Harry Potter to the High Commander’s Voldemort.
It’s almost like I’ll be writing a story about Sam, Braeden and Tristan in a parallel world. I can’t decide if I’m excited or sad about it. On the one hand, I feel like I just realized my diamond earings are cubic zirconia. I’m reminded that I’m an amateur writer and that my dream of being published is much further away than I imagined. In that sense, it’s disheartening.
On the other hand, this is my opportunity to do Paladin right. I’ve learned a lot about writing fiction over the past 15 months, and if I can just figure out the right plot, I think whatever I come up with will blow the original out of the way. If Paladin had strong world building, a strong plot and strong characters? I believe it would be a force to be reckoned with.
For those of you who are appalled by the thought of such dramatic changes — and they will be dramatic — you can rest easy that for now, Paladin will remain as it is up on Wattpad. You can read it anytime. However, I would ask you this — what is it that makes you like Paladin? If I had to guess, it would be the characters and the romance. The other stuff, you could take or leave.
You see, now that I’m a year-and-a-half into writing, it’s no longer enough for me to be good by Wattpad standards. I have good syntax and I can write snappy dialogue…but that isn’t all it takes to be a truly great author. I want to write a book that Publishers Weekly could review and find nothing but positive things to say (okay, I might be pushing my luck there, but a girl can dream).
I owe the editor a new plot outline this Sunday…and hopefully brilliance will strike before then. Pending his approval, for the next few months, I’ll be slaving away on the new and improved Paladin. That might disappoint some of you…it means Blue Sun will be on hold, and Uriel won’t begin being written for a long, long time. I’ll try to keep updating my blog, or perhaps write silly little fun stories, since I won’t be providing you guys with any new content otherwise. I hope you don’t forget about me! I will continue to be on Wattpad with disgusting frequency, so it’s not like I’m disappearing from the earth. But I wanted to let you guys know what an enormous undertaking is ahead of me. I will end this blog post with an unsatisfactory onomatopoeia: