Had a lengthy chat with one of my beta readers, and he gave me wonderful feedback on Bunny Trouble.
He found the novel riveting in places, but had some specific suggestions:
There are two characters in the novel that more or less “stay hidden” until the end of the book. They on occasion pop up in the story at times to do certain things (of which I cannot tell you). He wanted either more of that or less of that.
He felt the story was too gratuitous in places.
The dialog between three teenage girls was described as stilted.
Finally, he said my voicing was off. One of my main characters was bleeding into the others.
The “less or more” commentary is telling. I made a conscious choice to do this, but I did not know how it would pan out. I will have to see what the other readers think. I am trying to convey a sense of the unknown, but I may have been too cute about it. Cute is bad.
The girly dialog and the gratuitousness of the manuscript is somewhat related. I set out to have a sexy story (for the premise of the novel is a dark draw) but not cross a line I had for myself. It is now obvious to me that I failed in that regard. Just to see how the novel would go, I cut two-thirds of the teens in question. This eliminated some unnecessary sex, made the manuscript tighter, and improved the plot. I am confident I will not receive feedback that says I should leave that where it is, so I believe I am good there. There are other places to cut, but I have to have the rest of the feedback first.
The voicing is a killer, because he is right. Essentially, that is an amateur mistake, and out of all the suggestions thus far, will be the most time consuming to correct. I am confident I can overcome that problem… now that I know about it.
Despite the pile (and I mean a pile) of improvement suggestions, I remain upbeat. When the first three beta readers come back and report that the novel was “riveting,” that to me is a big win. My fear was the entire thing was preachy and essentially a big snooze, and who wants to read that?