We talk a lot about writer oriented topics here on the blog because we want all of you to take that story I know is in you and get it out to the world. All of you have a great story to tell, and if I can help it reach the masses, I want to do that. (Knowing lots of rich, famous authors can’t hurt my writing career.)
This post is for readers – which all of you are, too.
The Navigators is out with Beta Readers right now (I’m writing this post a few weeks ago and scheduling it, so most of the feedback will be received by now, but bear with me) and I have a dilemma.
Look at these questions and give me your immediate reactions.
Here’s the cover unless we change it:
Who is that story about?
Just from looking, WHAT does the cover tell you about the story?
Here’s the blurb, unless we change it:
A freak landslide uncovers a strange machine at a dangerous central Florida mine after a team of graduate students in archaeology challenge themselves to find something big during the quiet summer session. Wary of corrupt school officials suspected of selling off their discoveries, the students take the machine home and study it in secret, reaching only one realistic – and unbelievable – conclusion: It was designed to bridge the time-space continuum. It’s a time machine.
Covert testing delivers disastrous results, each worse than the prior one, sending one team member to the hospital and nearly killing another, while a third tells university faculty about the machine – leading to the ultimate power struggle. The university wants it for funding, powerful Florida Electric wants to keep the machine’s regenerating energy abilities under wraps, and competing students want to keep it for themselves. None of them care if the team comes out of it intact.
Fleeing for their lives, the team must fight against the school, the police, the army, time, and each other if they want to learn the truth about what they’ve discovered – a truth with more severe consequences than any of them can predict.
What does the blurb make you think the story is about?
Okay, so here’s the dilemma.
- I worry about people interested in character interaction being turned off by the fact that there’s a time machine in the story.
- I worry about getting “time machine” fans to not be disappointed with the nontraditional way I’m telling the story.
People expect a time machine story to be one where somebody goes to the future or the past and has an adventure there. Here, it’s a character driven piece where the repercussions and morality of time travel is dealt with, among other things.
And there are trips in the machine into the past. I don’t want to give it away, but it’s pretty cool,what happens. It’s an adventure!
I’m hoping a well written blurb will reconcile the dilemma I see, but who knows? So I wrote a friend and here’s her reply. (I’m only not naming her because I don’t want her status or lack thereof to sway you.)
Dan,you have to write the story that is in your heart. The story that is the one you want to tell. Readers either like it or they don’t. Stories are about people. Readers relate to the protagonist and cheer them on, or hate them and cheer for failure. Whatever.
Readers stick with stories because of the behavior or one (or occasionally two) main characters. What goes on around them is not nearly as important as they are.
All stories are character driven first and have to have focus on a protagonist who leads the story through the action. Once readers are hooked on your protagonist, what follows will keep then engaged.Don’t sweat the time machine aspect. Make your protagonist real and appealing and flawed, the rest is icing on the cake (just don’t get any crumbs in the machine).
What are your thoughts?