Recommended: More good stuff on Wattpad

I’ve been reading some more good stuff on Wattpad lately, and wanted to share my good fortue, highlighting some that I haven’t before.

@LaraBlunte is really, really good. I’ve been enjoying The Lazy Traveler out of order, but that’s okay with these often hilarious, always interesting travel adventures. I also recommend her fiction, including Love and Blame and the Devil.

@ShalonSims has a new serial going called The Dreaming, a sci-fi epic-in-the-works featuring a sweetheart of a child alien, a mysterious old tome and a lot more to come.

@PHWhittlesea, poet and musician, has begun a serial called Loreless, which is already off to a great start.

@MichaelGraeme’s “The Price of Being with Sunita”, if I’ve mentioned it before I have to again because it’s just so original and intriguing.

@ironymaster Welcome to Myopia begins with the youth who has an unusual goal in life, and is full of surprises.

Revising Forward

I recently wrote a post about “customer pain points” and addressing them through future revisions of past published books. One future revision I already did was to address a pain point in the story Zombie Nights where the final assassin had only appeared in the final chapter – I inserted a bit about her earlier in the story and that seems to have resolved that particular issue. Zombie Nights still has two major pain points and a possible path towards their resolution only occurred to me today, after serializing the story on Wattpad and getting the same feedback there.

I wrote Zombie Nights five years ago and through a lucky coincidence it became quite popular on Smashwords and remains so even now. garnering more than 100,000 downloads in its lifetime and still seeing around 10 per day. Future revisions will mean that future readers will encounter a different story, but fortunately for me I remain “nobody nowhere” so I still have this freedom.

The pain points are these: the story ends too quickly, and most readers wanted the zombie to follow the path of helping the homeless when he had the chance, when the charity guru “Cookie” makes him an offer to do so. In the current version, he sort of decides against it, being more compelled by his zombie nature to return to his gravesite, where he meets his sudden demise at the hands of the people who had killed him in the first place.

At the time when I wrote it, this made perfect sense to me, but I discovered that readers identify strongly with the protagonist – any protagonist – and they take the protagonist’s fate personally. It has to be led up to, they have to be guided, if that fate is to be unpleasant (witness the TV series Breaking Bad, where Walter ends up dying, but it was pretty much okay with everyone even though they loved him). Lenghtening Zombie Nights would let me prepare the reader better for the zombie’s fate. And, I could do this lengthening precisely by having him go to Cookie’s and do some work there, or try to. Essentially I want to close that possibility for the reader. That path cannot go anywhere but readers’ imaginations want to think it can. That escape route has to be cut off.

I believe I can still keep the ending exactly the way it is. I would need to extend chapter thirteen, where he turns left instead of turning right, earlier he could turn right first (into the first new chapter) and then later make the exact same fateful choice.

To pick up a story after five years and write new stuff into the middle of it is a challenge, because I will have to re-immerse myself into the story, and write the new stuff in the same voice as the person I was when I first wrote it. Who was that guy anyway and what was he thinking? It could be an interesting challenge.

Wattpad Weekly

Wanted to give a little shout out to some more of my favorite writers on #Wattpad:

@MichaelGraeme, first discovered on Feedbooks but I’m happy to see him sharing some of his great work here

@TipsyLit, the wonderful Ericka Clay

@wizzobravo, storyteller extraordinaire

I’ve also become engrossed in the Encante Trilogy by @CocoNichole and My Camino, a sweet travelogue by @AntoninosNatalis

Customer Pain Points

Writers can find that after certain amount of feedback, they can figure out the “customer pain points” of their story. The question then is what to do about it. For a long time my attitude was, hell, I wrote what I want, so there, but lately I’ve been adopting a different approach. I’m now thinking, what can I do to relieve their “pain” but without sacrificing my own perceptions. I’m treating it more as a software bug, and instead of closing the issue as “works as designed” I’m trying to resolve it as “fixed”.

I first did this with Zombie Nights a year or so ago. The customers didn’t like the way the character Racine just showed up in the last chapter, out of nowhere. “Surprise!”. I still wanted her to be something of a surprise, but I thought that a little foreshadowing might help the cause, so I added a brief scene with her a bit earlier on, although not by name and concealed behind a locked door. It was surprisingly effective, as I’ve not seen a single complaint since then.

Recently something similar occurred with Renegade Robot, an engaging little stor that never found much traction in the world at large. I serialized it on Wattpad and was very lucky to have it read by some good writers who all touched on the same “pain point”, a misunderstanding that was deliberate but confusing. I believe I’ve addressed it with a single sentence inserted into the first chapter. It may not be enough, but time will tell.

I’m also doing the same right now with Freak City. A customer pain point was the abruptness of the ending. I added a few more sentences that serve more as hand-holding – changing nothing but explaining a little more, and leading more definitively into the sequel. Originally there was no sequel and no intention of one, but in the end two more books followed, so it only helps to nudge the story along a bit.

This is one of the advantages of being an amateur writer. I can easily modify my books at any time. Past readers are stuck with what they read, it’s true, but future readers get the new version, and as far as I can tell, only the future is ahead of us.