I’ve had many beta readers for The Four Territories. I instructed each person who read my manuscript to do two things: 1. Critique the hell out of it. 2. Give me positive feedback on what I’m doing right.
The positive feedback I’ve received from beta readers always revolves around the action scenes and character development. It’s very reassuring that my characters are believable and actually relate-able because, to many authors, character development is the most important aspect to many authors. (Myself included).
However, without fail, I always seem to get the same critique. “I can’t picture where the characters are…” This one hurts. You know why? Because neither could I.
This shouldn’t be a big deal but I am an author who HATES to rewrite.
I know, I know, rewriting is part of the writing process. Doesn’t mean I still can’t hate it.
To my credit, the setting does get better as the manuscript goes on. I believe I noticed this early and started to implement more imagery in order for the reader to picture where the characters were.
For example: No Setting: The character walks into the old tavern and sits down at the back table to have a drink.
Better setting: The character walks into a hustling and bustling tavern. His boots creak along the old wooden planks as he makes his way past cheering patrons. The walls are made of stone that had long since been stained a deep purple from past throne mugs of ale.
So why did I have setting issues? I believe part of it was from reading too many novels in which there was TOO much detail. This probably infected my mind and told me, “Hey! Don’t do what they did. Give the readers some room for imagination.” It is apparent I went too far with this, lol.
The series I am writing now, The Grind, features much better setting development ALONG with character development.
So, the moral of this story is to always listen to your beta readers. ESPECIALLY if most of them are saying they can’t picture your world in their head. The truth hurts, but we writers have to keep improving our craft and one of the ways to do this is to listen to the beta readers and to not pretend your first draft is a masterpiece.