Slamming on the Brakes

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:

Le sigh.

26 Comments

  1. While I’m screaming, ‘no don’t change Paladin! It’s perfect the way it is!’ I realise this is an amazing opportunity for you to improve and grow was a writer. I wish you luck with designing a new and improved plot line, and like you said for me it’s definitely the characters and romance that I love about Paladin. I have no doubt that your rewrite of Paladin will be amazing and I wish you all the best as you continue your journey to becoming a published author.

    1. Thank you very much! I feel like I know so much more than I did back in October 2011, so I’m really hopeful that the end result will be worth all the extra effort. Plus, it’ll be fun to revisit Sam, Braeden and Tristan again.

    1. Yup, that’s the plan! It’ll almost be like having two different stories (though I’m going to try to preserve the romance scenes…I refuse to lose chapter 25 part i!

  2. I agree with Emily, yet I have to say to the editor that I like how Sam, the main character, isn’t ACTUALLY the main character. There aren’t many people who can write stories that can pull that off, yet you do. It’s a difficult, powerful feat, and I personally think that it makes me love Sam all the more.

    We know who Sam is. We’ve been introduced to your world. But who says that you’ve said all there is to be said already? We didn’t learn Harry himself was a Horcrux until the END of the LAST BOOK, for chrissakes!

    I think Uriel will be the book in which we TRULY discover who Sam is, herself included.

    My point is, don’t give up on this direction just yet. It may turn out awesome, who knows?

    For the record, I think Sam IS central to the conflict. I mean, who’s the one stirring everything up? Lady Light Knight, that’s who. Not the Demon King, he seems like he’s in the middle of a game of ‘Red Light, Green Light’ with the High Commander.

    1. Thanks for your input! There may be a way to preserve a lot of the story, but we’ll see. I’m basically going to devote all of tonight and tomorrow to brainstorming the new direction of the plot.

      Ha, love that description of “red light, green light”

  3. I’ve never posted any review here, or in wattpad, but I’m a reader of Paladin since the begining. The thing is that I’m french, so, my english is far from perfect. Sorry for the mistakes ^^’ But I needed to say that :

    I actually agree with this post. What made me read and love Paladin are the characters. I love the idea of Sam, a woman wielding a sword, and Breaden is just… perfect in his own way. But, it’s true that the world and plot of Paladin are… kind of weak. There were something that lacked in the plot, now I understand what it is. I think it is a great thing that you’re able to accept that your work need rewriting. Not all amateur writers can choose to see the flaws of their story and do something about it. And I think it is why you, more than others, can become of professional writer.

    You can make Sam the heart of the conflict, without changing too much of the plot, with what makes her special : she’s a woman. That’s what I’ve always though, what I was expecting. She cannot be accepted by those she believes in, the Paladin, her word, people she wants to protect, but she does it anyway. She can’t fall in love, she can’t fight, she can’t choose her destiny. She’s a prisonner because she was born as a girl. Think about Eowin who kills the Witch-King of Angmar. Of course, Tolkien’s work isn’t about her, but, at least she becomes the master of her fate, and even if I’m not a fan of her personnality, I love her nonetheless.

    There is also this character, in a french fantasy book called ‘Ellana’. I don’t think it has been published in the states, or even translated, but…Well. She’s a nobody. Doesn’t have parents, nor special magical power other than her willpower. She’s a woman in a man’s world, but never she hides. Her life is a fight in itself, a fight for freedom, that’s why people love her, or want to destroy her so much. They want to catch her, bind her, as if they could take her freedom for themselves. The first books of this writer were not about her at all. But one day, he realised that this character was too unique to stay in the background. So he wrote her story, and that was a HUGE success in France. In fact, it’s one of the main reference for the aspiring fantasy writers here in France, nearly at the same level as Tolkien. No joking. I think it was never translated, because of the way of writing of Bottero (the author), which is very very very special.

    Anyway. Maybe I’m going too far, and it’s really frustrating not being able to explain things as I would like to, but, the idea is here. You can make it. You have all one’s need to build a great story, to become a good writer. So, take your time, believe in yourself without falling in the trap of self-satisfaction, and everything should end well.

    Bon courage,
    Nina.

    1. Merci beaucoup, Nina! C’est tres cool d’avoir des lecteurs internationals!

      Man, my French is rusty, haha.

      I’ll have to check out Ellana (or see if there’s a translated version since I haven’t spoken French in five years). it sounds like it might be a good guide for me as I reapproach this story.

      I’m confident in my ability to string together a sentence, and I’m confident in my characters. I just have to whip the rest of the book into shape. It’s no small task, and I’m still waiting for brilliance to strike, but I’m very hopeful. And hopefully it will be sort of fun. It’s an excuse to revisit my favorite characters.

    2. Wow, Nina, that was really well said. I’m impressed at your English! I don’t think a native English speaker could have said it more eloquently. Great allusions too! I totally agree with everything you said.

      Nathan

  4. I was quite shocked to read this but it’s absolutely incredible. I would love to read the new Paladin you’re talking about. I’m also quite grateful to you for telling us what your editor said instead of just saying “I have to change it”, because I sort of think about it and can see what he means. Also, it’s giving me tips on my writing too.

    Good luck on polishing your diamonds. :)

    1. Thank you! It was hard to hear, but incredibly helpful as well. It’s really hard to see the flaws in your own story when you’re so close to it. And it’s definitely taught me lessons for future stories…start with a plot outline first and make sure it’s airtight!

  5. I’m quite excited actually. All the editor is really saying is that you have a great skeleton now put some muscle, organs and flesh on it.

    You’re an Epic writer, so I know you’ll come up with something! Maybe Sam’s Ancestors did something to upset The HC’s Ancestors or as you say, Sam is destined for something great – maybe even tying in with an Uriel prophecy?

    Good luck, have a great weekend!

    1. I rather like that metaphor about the skeleton, muscle, etc. I think that’s a really good way to view his comments (thank god he said he liked my writing, or I’d really be devastated!).

      Yeah, I’ve been thinking about playing with Sam’s bloodline, especially since I haven’t brought up her mom at all. Maybe her mom is from across the Rheic Ocean, where the High Commander is. I definitely have a ton of thinking to do.

  6. I’m not sure about you but I am really looking forward to the new and improved Paladin. When you get it published I would buy it, immediately. Though the whole ‘Blue Sun will be on hold, and Uriel won’t begin being written for a long, long time’ thing sucks, it’s understandable.
    Oh and what makes me love Paladin sooo much is the action! The fighting scenes! And the adventure story-line!
    GOOD LUCK!~

    1. Thank you Leanne! It’s good to hear you like my action scenes…I think I got much better at writing them as I went on, so if I rewrite it I’ll have an opportunity for action scenes to be awesome from the beginning.

      Really do appreciate your patience with me! So much learning left to do.

  7. Hello! I am a relatively new reader of Paladin but I hoped to give my own 2 cents. :) When I first joined Wattpad a couple months ago, I was about to give up Wattpad and my search for a story I truly found enjoyable and well-written. But then I stumbled upon Paladin and it renewed my faith in Wattpad.

    It is super exciting that a publishing company and an editor are considering you! I am amazed by your talent and ambition.

    Personally I do agree that the characters are what made Paladin so amazing. The romance was certainly swoon-worthy too, but the scene that actually sticks out the most for me is the one when Sam, Braeden, and Tristan are all traveling and Sam realizes that she has had many hardships entering this world because she is a woman, but she never had to deal with poverty. But Braeden and Tristan and many, many others do or did. That somehow really struck me, and added another dimension to Sam’s character.

    So while I can definitely see Sam becoming more central to the Paladin/Uriel/High Commander tension being an excellent change, there may also be the possibility of having the story be about Sam in a more coming-of-age sort of way? She already grows up throughtout the course of Paladin, and she makes a lot of important choices on who she wants to be and who she wants to be with, but there isn’t as much emphasis on that it seems with your editor.

    But I also just really like the idea of a character kind of “forcing her way into greatness”. There’s that quotation, “some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them” and Braeden would fall into the first and third since he didn’t have a choice being born as he was, much like Harry Potter. But Sam could be cut out of a different cloth – that she’s trying to achieve greatness, chase it. She already wants to be a female warrior – maybe she could have more of a story in wanting to change her world.

    I’m sorry if what I am suggesting would go against her character though. It’s been a little while since I read Paladin and my memory isn’t all that strong on the best of days.

    I wish you all the best in your writing and publishing endeavors though and will be following you and your blog to hear how it goes! It seems like it’ll be a battle, but one that can only go uphill!:)

    1. I love this comment, and I think there’s a lot of validity to the story being more of a coming-of-age kind of thing. What I don’t know is if “coming-of-age” in itself is enough to be the central plot of a story.

      I really like the concept of Sam wanting to change her world. That struck a chord with the editor as well, who said he’d like to see Sam have a bigger (less selfish) purpose. What if she wanted any woman to be able to follow the path she chose? That might be a more powerful story.

      I suppose I’ll figure it out, or try to, today!

  8. I love your characters and the romance. I love that you don’t write about the try hard love triangles, that due to a certain supernatural book series *cough* Twilight *cough*, has started the trend of so many of these cases.

    Thinking back to your story, I realize your editor was right, there are some major flaws in the story. However I love Paladin, and although it makes me sad to know that your re-writing it, it also makes me incredibly happy. If I love the flawed Paladin, imagine what’s going to come next. Keeping the development of the characters and the romance, this story can only become more amazing. For this I will gladly wait for the next books.

    I hope that soon I see your story in a book store. I can’t wait until I buy your book and recommend it to all my friends who read, your story is very much their style.

    I would love to see you at the top of the writing totem-pole.
    Good luck.

    1. Thank you, Tessa! I’m very pleasantly surprised at how positive and supportive everyone has been about this decision. Heh heh, and I’m always glad to find another Twi-hater.

      Much work ahead of me! I’ve made some progress on my new plot outline that actually manages to keep most of the stuff I like in, so we shall see what happens.

  9. My ghast is flabbered! No Paladin, no Blue sun …… No fair!!
    Seriously though, Well done, you deserve a break. You have entertained us on Wattpad and if you need to edit/rewrite then so be it. So pleased that you listened to the professional ( that’s not to say I totally agree with him – I think you could tie the cause for the conflict in, even now, to the Royal connection) and are willing to do something about it.
    I know you probably won’t read this til after Sunday…I expect you will be busy , so u hope it all went well.
    If everything gets suspended, we understand and fully support you.
    Feel the love.

    1. Oh, you underestimate my procrastination! Much more fun to respond to a comment on my blog than work on my plot outline (although believe it or not, it’s close to done. I just hope it doesn’t suck).

      Talking to a professional was very eye opening, if a bit of a shock. It’s good to be reminded that I have a TON left to learn!

      I do feel the love, and feel very blessed :) Thank you!

  10. Having just read the entire book on Wattpad in a day and a half, without analysing or being a critic, I loved Paladin as I received it. I can agree with the editor, but I can also agree with those who think you should stick to revealing Sam’s story in Uriel. Either way, I know I’ll love it. Your work is great and I support it, whichever direction you decide to take it. I just want the book on my shelves gods dammit! :)

    1. Thanks, Shari! I do think it’s an enjoyable story – but I want to make it a truly great story. It needs some work, but that’s okay by me. I have an idea as to how to rectify the problem that I think you guys will end up enjoying, but we shall see. And I want to see it on shelves too, gods damnit! 😉

  11. I know this is very very late, probably too late but, you already laid the ground work for something. Her ancestors were the original Paladins… and yet no one from her blood line had become one in a 100 years, until her. Why? Why? and Why?

    I also agree with her not needing to be the most special/powerful, character in the book. I like that she’s not. It’s that ordinary person being the most important kind of person in the universe thing that the Doctor is always going on about (Dr.Who).

    Anyway I just wanted to say I loved Paladin and was excited to read about your editor, and that I look forward to buying a copy of the more fleshed out world of Paladin. So congratulations even if it’s late to the party.

    1. Not too late, as I am very much still laying down the original ground work (just got some positive feedback on my new outline, thank goodness). I’m actually adding a lot more to exactly that question – why Sam? However, I’m taking away the whole no-Paladin-from-Haywood-in-100 years and making the whole ancestry thing a good deal more complex and integral to the plot.

      Sam, as my outline currently stands, will not be the most special/powerful character in the book. I see her as more of a Harry Potter type figure – she’s the right person for the job because of circumstance, but she herself is relatively ordinary (minus the whole butt-kicking female bit).

      Thanks for your positive feedback and encouragement! Hopefully I’ll get to start on the rewriting (much more fun than outlining) bit soon!

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