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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ouch!!

That is what went through my mind as I read the review given me by a gal in Germany. It did not make me mad in any way though, these are the type of reviews I need to grow, to become better. She did not say anything bad about the story, it was more my approach to it. I am posting it here.

Disappointing.

The description of the book really got me interested and the beginning of the book was really good, but then:

- too many changes of perspective (especially in the fighting scenes)
- constant adding of new characters and their abilities, the reader is bound to get confused with all these names (changes of perspective don't help here either)
- repetitive use of words (in the fighting scenes again, I counted a total of 8x "man"/"men"/"the first man"/"the second man" on one page)
- no character development as far as I can tell

I'm not sure whether I should continue reading it.

So yeah, I can see what she was talking about. I did use the terms man, men, and such during fight scenes. To me it made sense as they were just quick appearances in the book. Perhaps you all have a better suggestion for my next book on how to approach that. I did notice it while I was reading it but trying to fit my story in under 80k words was hard enough. That brings me to character development, again, trying to do it in 80k words, I was only really able to do basic introductions to the characters. I plan on trying to get more into it on the second book and will not have the HUGE fight scenes as I did in the first one. It was rather exhausting for me trying to set it up in such a way as to keep it interesting without making it confusing. Yes, there was a lot of characters and abilities, but that was part of the storyline and could not be helped. I am not sure about the change of perspective part. I am assuming she was talking about when I would switch from fight to fight...but that is what any author does, they go from fight to fight and work their way around in order to maintain the fights along the same time frame.

Anyway, let me know what you guys think. I am working on the second one, it will be quite a lot different than the first one as it will be more one on one. I will be building the character development more in it along with adding some romance. I am thinking instead of having one main romance, having tow or three smaller ones...what do you think? Or should I have one stand out?

Always learning  = )
 

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It seems an honest review that can help you grow as a writer. Writing is a learning process that never seems to stop, and if you can get over the initial disappointment and consider the comments carefully and use them to improve your story, then you're on your way to becoming a professional writer  ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I totally agree, I did not mind the review, I am just trying to break it down so I can learn from it. I am actually thinking about holding up on my second book so I can go back to GIFTED and revise it some more once I get a few more reviews in. I have only had 15 sales this month and I agree with this review. Since I am not going the traditional route for publishing anymore, I can make it longer. I would love to create more character depth and background to make the transition into the second book easier.

I can't change the fight scenes as they are a huge part of my book. Not sure how else to describe the people the main characters are fighting other than "the first man", "the man" etc...

I will have to get a few more reviews so I can tell if people are confused by it. A few friends of mine that read it said they loved it and thought it read smoothly. My free time is over until March so I cant ask anyone here to review it short of sending a copy of the file, which I would be willing to do if someone were willing to look the story over for me for another perception.
 

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Tensejim said:
I can't change the fight scenes as they are a huge part of my book. Not sure how else to describe the people the main characters are fighting other than "the first man", "the man" etc...
Have you tried describing the men in the fight scene? It's difficult for a reader to imagine 'the first man'. I also had the same problem but managed to get round it like this:

The two men escorted Giles round the side of the building to where he had been told someone was waiting with a message. Worried that something had happened to Emma, he turned expectantly as a beefy, red-faced man emerged from the shadows. But instead of a message, the man delivered a heavy punch into Giles' stomach, the searing pain taking his breath away and paralysing his thoughts.
As he doubled over the second man brought his knee up, catching Giles under the chin, forcing his teeth into his tongue. Groggy with shock, he reeled back, grabbing his assailant's jacket as he fell. Confused, he had no idea why he was being attacked.
"I've no money," he said, the words coming in ragged gasps as he struggled to summon his strength. In reply the man swung his fist, but this time Giles was ready and blocked it with his left hand, swinging with his right. His arms were strong and muscular from years of moulding dough and lifting heavy trays, and Giles felt the crunch of bone and the warm spurt of sticky blood and heard a satisfying roar of pain as his fist came in contact with his opponent's nose. But before he could do further damage, two beefy hands grabbed his collar and hauled him to his feet.
Fear coursed through him as he realised he was outnumbered three to one. He stood on unsteady feet, desperately searching for a way to escape. But two of them pinned his arms behind his back, and the third swung a punch. He tried to duck, but he was held firm and the heavy fist caught him square in the face.
Blood trickled warmly down his chin, and the salt taste of it was in his mouth. For a terrible moment he thought he was going to be killed, and he kicked out furiously. There was a moan of pain as his foot caught one of them in the groin. In retaliation the beefy one slammed him against the wall, and he felt a sickening crack as his head hit the brickwork. His vision became a red haziness as his knees sagged. Dimly he heard the shouts of Happy New Year, and the wail of the sirens and hooters as the band struck up Auld Lang Syne. He slid to the ground and everything went black.
With their heavy boots, the men kicked him in the ribs a few times for good measure before stealing off into the shadows, where Laurence waited with their money, a satisfied smirk on his long vengeful face.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hmm...that is a possibility. I will be looking at Gifted this week, checking to see how I can enhance the fight scenes. I have there major scenes in the book and some smaller ones also. On several occassions I have one fighting at least two opponents, coming up with different ways to describe the opponents without the descriptions becoming redundant may be a challenge. I want to make sure I dont take away from the fight. Thank you for your advise.

I plan on editing the book again even though it is already published. I have to have it perfect before it goes to paperback. I want to feel that the reader is getting the best possible version I can give them.
 

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My husband's first bad review for PROGENY is my very favorite - in terms of actual feedback for the author.  It was hard to read the first time through, but it is the one I think about all the time in terms of helping Patrick be better at his craft and for me to be better at editing.  So glad to see you taking a positive and productive attitude.  We have to be grateful for every review. They are so hard to come by :)

Jennifer
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I agree, I actually sent a thank you message to the gal that gave the review. It is my first book, and before it goes to paperback, I want the most honest reviews or emails possible so I will have a chance to revise it and make it better. Book two is officially shelfted until I have a chance to do this. If I can build my characters more in Gifted, I can focus more on storyline for the second one. I still have not figured out how to defeat the "man" thing though. I know I do it a lot, but that is because there are a LOT of fights in the book. I will try and break it up some by giving descriptions here and there. I researched the issue on line last night and even some of the best writers did it to a degree.
 

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Tensejim said:
It is my first book, and before it goes to paperback, I want the most honest reviews or emails possible so I will have a chance to revise it and make it better.
Personally, I don't revise content after receiving a review or even a personal email once the book is published. I'll fix typos or grammar errors that slipped through, or fix formatting issues, but not content. I feel that once the book is published, the content (story, plot, characterization, flow) is set. To continue to revise based on reviews is essentially treating your customers as beta readers...beta readers who paid for the honor of doing so.
 

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Hey, Jim. So, Gifted is the first in a series? I'm thinking of the reader's criticism of the "constant adding of characters." I'm doing a series, too, and one of the things I thought about ahead of time was how to introduce characters. I looked at some of my favorite fantasy series, such as Jim Butcher's Dresden Files, and noticed how quite a large stable of characters had been established by Book 6 or 7, but that it had taken quite a bit of time to work all those people in. In the first book, we meet maybe four central characters, and a few others that aren't developed significantly but who return later in the series and play bigger roles. I tried to emulate that when I wrote my first book: don't try to fit too many well developed people into the narrative right off the bat, but include enough that I'll have characters to go back to and develop further as the series progresses.
 

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Amanda Brice said:
Personally, I don't revise content after receiving a review or even a personal email once the book is published. I'll fix typos or grammar errors that slipped through, or fix formatting issues, but not content. I feel that once the book is published, the content (story, plot, characterization, flow) is set. To continue to revise based on reviews is essentially treating your customers as beta readers...beta readers who paid for the honor of doing so.
This is an admirably respectful way of treating readers, but to me it seems okay to be more flexible when you're just starting out. If, in your newbie-author-hood, you think you've done a bang-up job on your first book but then realize you actually screwed up something big, taking it down and overhauling it after only a few folks have read it seems productive to me -- and perhaps kinder to future readers.

After that, the lesson should've been learned, and it shouldn't happen again: good beta-readers, then publication.

(Not saying you're in that position, Jim -- I'm just responding to Amanda's point in a general way. Overhauling a book based on one negative review doesn't strike me as a good idea!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I agree with the slow release of characters, but I wanted to take what Twilight gave and really grab the horse by the reigns right off the bat. You would have to read the book to see what I did and why I did it. It was essential to make it believable imo. I did not really plan the details but I knew where it would go, I just let the story write itself. I don't plan on bringing most of the characters backA, the second and third novels will be more personal. I will reiterate my willingness to email the file of Gifted to someone that is willing to look it over for some suggestions.

As for revising, I still plan on doing it, even if I decide not to republish it. For me, it will better my editing abilities. I can understand both reasons for revising and not revising. I am lean more toward the doing it for future readers though. Auto makers take the suggestions and events and create better versions of the car as time goes by, but they also do recalls for major problems. I will do free days every three months and if someone buys the book and wants the new version, they will have that opportunity.

As for beta readers, I tried to find some, I had some volunteer but when it came down to getting them to do it, they just did not have the time. I had to finally edit it myself, without having the benefit of any beta readers. I did have a couple friends tell me that they loved the book after I published it though.

I also agree with the review that I should have more customer development, I would like to add to that.
 

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re: man/men, try a brief description, with something that really stands out, and make that the character's 'name', for instance:
The first attacker grinned, displaying gold incisors. The second attacker had a white goatee. Goatee uncoiled a whip while Gold Tooth advanced with a karambit knife held in a hammer grip and...

As with lots of characters, I'd say, take a group, and use one of the characters in the group for POV, then alternate chapters to show the different storylines.
Chapter one - the vampire clan, POV Rafael
Chapter two - the werewolf clan, POV Lucian
Chapter three - POV Rafael
Chapter four - POV Lucian
Chapter five - POV Rafael
 

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One of the things I like about Richard Pitman and Joe McNally's "Eddie Malloy" series (Hunted, Warned Off) is the way they characterize the bad guys and make the beating-up scenes interesting. You get some sense of who the bad guys are before the fight so you don't have to suffer through the "first man" and "second man" business.

It can be hard when assailants hit your guy from the shadows, but it paints a more evocative picture if you've established that one guy looks like Grizzly Adams and the other one is a ferret-faced little squirt. Then you can write, "Grizzly wrapped me in his arms while ferret-face punctured me a few times with a Tijuana switchblade." (Yeah, I'm kind of a noir fan!)

I should also point out that, basically, fight scenes kinda bore me. I took a screenwriting class from a writer who pointed out that during a fight scene, the plot comes to a halt and doesn't pick up again until we see the outcome of the fight. I don't personally care much about the blow-by-blow of guys punching each other. So unless the fight is cleverly choreographed or has some other element to it (like a dialogue exchange that somehow furthers the story, and not just taunts and posturing), I'll probably skim it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I think this is probably the scene that she was talking about, I did count nine uses of "man/men/first man", I guess my problem was that this was the first big battle, fourteen men were used against the main character. To give each of them identities seemed overboard for me when I wrote it.

The men were so busy beating on the young girl they did not see Zeb coming up behind them. Zeb had taken the ability of strength, and with a powerful blow sent the first man flying uncontrollably several feet away. Startled, the other man turned and came at Zeb who blocked the blow with one arm and shot his other arm out into his chest. The man was knocked back a few steps before he managed to stop and begin another attack. By this time, the first man was back on his feet and had shaken off the effects of Zeb's initial blow. He started coming at Zeb angered by the assault. Zeb saw the first man coming and just as the other man reached him, he grabbed him by the arm, spun him around and threw him at the first man. The result was satisfying as Zeb heard bones break from the impact. Both men rolled several times before coming to a stop.

Of course the fight continues and I use the same verbage. But I can see in fights like this, where there is more than one opponent, finding a way to differentiate between them would help keep it from sounding redundant.
 

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Tensejim said:
I think this is probably the scene that she was talking about, I did count nine uses of "man/men/first man", I guess my problem was that this was the first big battle, fourteen men were used against the main character. To give each of them identities seemed overboard for me when I wrote it.
Zeb had taken the ability of strength? Is that particular to your book?

The rest of the paragraph, if you don't mind me saying, is stale. If you want an example of what can be done with it, let me know.
 

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Ok, I read your paragraph above and I think I'd consider looking at it a different way.

There are 14 guys... they make up 1 bad guy.

I know that doesn't make a lot of sense, but stop and consider it.

You've got the hero fighting, constantly, new things coming at him -- bam, bam, bam. It has to feel like that. Sharp. Harsh. Hits. Responses. Next move - next guy. Bam.

That's a fight scene.  The 14 guys are just an onslaught, not individuals.

I read once about filming older fight scenes (I think it was in regards to a Bruce Lee scene, I'm sure someone can verify/correct this) - In one scene where he fights a whhhhole bunch of guys, the director purposefully made the men look similar: Similar build, clothing, hair cuts, etc so that you never felt like the hero was fighting one guy at a time but a constant attack from all sides.... that the bad guys didn't matter, just the level of fight. That it was easier to stay focused on the hero -- the central focal point -- because visually he also stood out.

My suggestion would be, go deeper into your POV, so deep that we're only feeling the attack, not the individuals. Find what works for you. You'll also find cheats. Don't over use them, but know how they work in your writing.

My first big fight scene for the other me I totally used a cheat. My agent: It works. It's great. Don't pull that again *snort*

I hope that helps at least open up some different ways to think about approaching your scenes. :)
 

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DDark said:
I got low markings on my books today from a male reader who complained about the romance. I was a little bummed because my description on amazon specifically says: "Urban Fantasy Romance", so I'm not sure why the romance was a surprise. ::)
HA! I get the opposite! People who read dark or paranormal or dark paranormal complaining about how light might book is. *points down to warning on book* Part of me feels bad bc there's nothing worse than wasting time on a book that's not your taste.... and then I remember my blurb...and cover...and the warnings...and the reader reviews (postive and not so positive)...and wonder why they tried me. I wish they hadn't. Not because of the bad reviews, but bc I honestly don't want to waste someone's precious free time!
 

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DDark said:
Prepare for more! LOL Not to be a Debbie Downer, but not everyone will love your book. It's tough. I got low markings on my books today from a male reader who complained about the romance. I was a little bummed because my description on amazon specifically says: "Urban Fantasy Romance", so I'm not sure why the romance was a surprise. ::)

I knew going in I was coloring outside of the lines. I'm actually combining two genres: Urban Fantasy (no happy ending) with Paranormal romance (happy ending). I had a feeling I'd get backlash from those expecting the formula within the genre they thought was urban fantasy.
Thankfully, far more of my readers appreciate it than not, so I don't let all the bad reviews change my style.

Try not to change your story or your writing for one reader. Don't let one review make you doubt what you felt confident about. If you get a bunch more readers saying the same thing, you might want to listen. BUT that will depend on how many who love it outweigh the bad. Sometimes you just end up writing one of those controversial books that is a love/hate deal. Lovers outweigh haters. Can't please 'em all.
What she said.

I get reviews all the time that say, "Too much romance." Then I get other reviews, "Too much other stuff, I wish there was more romance." Can't please everyone. The more you sell, the more conflicted reviews you get. Heck, just this morning I got a 2 star, "Story A Okay. I'll probably read it again." Hmmm.
 

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Deanna Chase said:
Heck, just this morning I got a 2 star, "Story A Okay. I'll probably read it again." Hmmm.
LOL

Also, as bad reviews go, yours wasn't scathing. I'm hoping you never get one. Keep your chin up!!! WE all get them. Sometimes I look at books that are 6 out of 5 stars for me and people give them 1 star and wish they could give negative stars. A lot of it is about taste :)

You're readers will find you.
 

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DDark said:
That's nothing. I have a couple of faithful haters of my series, and cannot WAIT for the next book so they can complain with another 1 or 2 star review (this is not on Amazon). I almost want to tell them that it's totally okay to walk away from the series. Save your pennies and go buy an ice cream cone. Obviously, these aren't the books for you.
Oh, I have a few of those, too. I can't help but wonder why they keep buying books they obviously can't stand. I love the ones that read, "I hated this book, but I'm going to try the next one to see if it gets better." lol
 
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