special k really pushed me to have a draft of my YA novel that he could read. He is now reading it, which is not the easiest thing for me, because he’s basically told me to bugger off and leave him alone to read it.
This means anxious bed-time hours, listening to him read, turn over, turn the pages, waiting for him to put it down and never pick it up again, wondering if I might get – not a laugh – but a little outward breath of amusement…
This morning he said, “Can I give you some feedback?” and everything in me froze up. “Er, I don’t think so?” I said, because nothing he said right then would have been useful.
Fastforward about an hour, and I was ready to hear it (I had reached the point, basically, where not knowing what he thought was wrong with it was going to be much worse than knowing).
He started talking, and I remembered how damn good at narrative he is.
The main feedback that is just spot on is: Every character is intense right from the beginning; everything is innuendo or insinuation; there is no definitive point to stand in the narrative.
This, in a way, is really positive feedback, because I want my characters to be ambiguous. BUT that doesn’t work at all unless you know the characters first – I never did the “naive young boy from the country” scenes that begin any fantasy. Act One, according to the people who know these things, should show a character in their normal, everyday life. This is the opening scene of any horror film, before anything falls apart.
Then there’s the specific feedback, like, “So the spaceship isn’t attached to the end of the kite’s string? Okay, but if she’s floating a remote control on the kite, how is she controlling the remote control?”
At this point the little brother chimes in, “And if she can fly the ship by remote control, why have a huge, complicated control room? She could just fly it while she’s watching TV…”
The road is long.