Requesting Feedback from Readers

The process of editing has me so frustrated that I have decided to turn to other bloggers for advice. I am having several plot issues and over the next few weeks I will be writing posts about these in the hopes that I will get some feedback from other writers and bloggers out there on how to handle these. Let me just say in advance that I will appreciate any and all thoughts and comments. At this point I feel that I am ready to just give up, but I know that I cannot and that I must finish this novel and publish it. I tried to do it alone and I feel that at this point the opinions of others who are not so attached to this will be a great help.

So here is my issue of the day:

As some of you may know, I am writing a Young Adult Paranormal Romance novel based on Hindu mythology. Although the heroine is from North America, obviously a lot of the action takes place in ancient temples and the jungles of India.

My question is this: How much explanation should I provide of terms  and actions etc, that might be unfamiliar to North American readers? For example, Namaste is a traditional Indian greeting. Having lived in North America myself for over twenty years now, I feel that many people know this. Of course I plan to weave an explanation of many things related to Hindu mythology and Indian culture into the story, but some of the terms aren’t really that unfamiliar in today’s ethnically diverse population. I also don’t want readers to think that they are reading a lecture on cultural issues. After all, this is a Young Adult novel. I would love to hear what you all have to say.

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10 comments on “Requesting Feedback from Readers

  1. Have you tried bata rwaders? I did that with mine. You get six, really how ever many you want, close people that will give you honest and open feed back. Write your concerns on the manuscript you give to them. Double or triple the spacing between lines and let them write what they think. Remember to consider their ideas and write them in your voice.
    Hope this helps.
    Cheers.

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    • Thanks, that’s a great idea. I have given it to a couple of my friends to read, but I haven’t actually given it to anyone to really dissect it. I guess I need to get on that.

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      • I’m working on my first ever peice. And by the time I finished placing all the comments in to my voice I realized I learned to much. I read my manuscript with new eyes. I rewrote the whole thing with just coping the main ideas. It reads smoother and has less errors. Getting others opinions and learning from your mistakes helps you grow. Just remember to use your voice and its okay to say no. Try people who read other genres and who don’t read at all. You can learn so much.

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  2. First of all, don’t give up. You have a story to tell, so tell it. I know the feeling of wanting to give up sometimes, because it happens to all of us. Usually, if I feel like a story isn’t working, then I go back to the point in the story where I felt it went sour (or I lost the drive (passion) to write it/edit it). Usually, that’s the point I need to cut or rewrite. Sometimes you may lose a few thousand words, but for me, that always works. And with explanations, you can’t go overboard. It’ll bore your readers, and because your book is YA, you need to keep the action going. Less is better.

    Like your example, “Namaste”, you don’t have to do a huge explanation. Even if readers don’t know what it means, all you have to do is say; “Namaste,” he said in greeting. See how that covers it easily? No more explanation needed. Also, if you briefly mention a goddess or something and it’s not essential or relevant to the plot, you don’t (and probably shouldn’t) have to explain her origin. Unless it’s important, treat it as casual conversation. Readers can look it up on their own if they’re interested. I hope that helps.

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    • Thank you, Heidi, that’s really great advice. I agree, too much explanation would be distracting and not every thing is important enough to need background info. It does bother me at times when I delete chunks of info and then lose a few thousand words, but then most times I’m finding that there are other ways to make them up. Thanks so much, Heidi, for taking the time, I truly appreciate it.

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  3. Hi Sabina, I essentially agree with what has already said, but just want to stress the other side of the coin, that the more cultural info that you can elegantly and concisely weave into the story, the richer the experience will be for your readers. I remember reading “The Last of the Wine”, a story taking place in ancient Greece, by Mary Renault, as a high schooler. Through it, not only did I read a captivating story, but I also really felt like I had been immersed into another culture. The setting of your story is such a remarkable culture to introduce young readers to, it would be wonderful if you could bring it to life for them.

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    • Thank you Cnawan, for visiting and following my blog and for your insightful comments. I’m sometimes finding it a bit of a challenge to try and draw readers in with the fascinating mythology without making it feel like a lecture. But I will get there eventually. I agree, reading and learning about other cultures and mythologies is best when you feel that you can immerse yourself in them.

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