This blog post is all about feedback. We all want it and need it, whether it’s easy to hear or not.
Damage has been up on the SwoonReads website for about a month now and so far 18 people have taken the immense time and trouble to read it and rate it for me. It’s got an overall 4/5 average Swoon Rating at the moment, which is really great.
The comments are even more useful and I’m starting to see a pattern emerging. Most people have said lovely things about writing style, location and characters. But several people have also said that it really only takes off once you know Cerys’s secret and that it should happen sooner. They don’t feel fully invested in the characters until that point.
But here’s the problem: I’m writing about two people who are having real hang-ups about being honest with each other because they can’t talk openly about the things that have happened in their recent past. So it wouldn’t be right if they started flirting with each other right at the start of the story. Cerys certainly has to go through a whole set of baby steps before she’s confident enough to get that far, and Aiden isn’t budging at all until Drew has it out with him and makes him realise Cerys will be walking out of his life forever in a few days time unless he makes a move!
So how do you make a book compelling when the romance doesn’t get going until the climax of the novel? In my head the answer was to give the reader three questions that needed answering, creating intrigue and emotional investment.
1) What happened to Cerys to make her behave the way she does, with her fear of the dark, nightmares and skittish nerves?
2) What happened to Aiden to make him so upset in the pub, so angry at the beach party and so withdrawn in the days after that?
3) Will the two of them ever find out the truth about each other and finally get together?
Judging by the comments on SwoonReads this may not be working quite according to plan though. So what can I do to make it better? Looking at it again I’m thinking that Aiden isn’t a 100% fully coloured-in character yet. He doesn’t really have a lot of dialogue and although Cerys backs away from any physical contact to begin with, I could put in a few more awkward moments and build-up in the first half.
How hard can that be??