So: I'd love to get some feedback from my readers. Think of it this way -- you get a bright, shiny chance to improve my writing, so that my next work comes out (better|good)!*
Here's how you can help. I'm just going to ask a bunch of questions. These are all things where I feel like I'm too close to the story to accurately judge it myself -- or I've made a judgment, but want to know how readers saw it, because the reality check might surprise me. Answer one, or all, or as many as you feel like. I'll try to keep it short because I know I'll get more answers that way. :)
- Is John a likeable character? (n.b.: This was not necessarily the effect I was going for.) Is he a sympathetic character -- i.e. did you feel his pain as opposed to schadenfreude?
- Were the scenes where he gets torn an (emotional) new one overwrought?
- The initial format of the story -- the diary of an only-sorta-eloquent man unused to being introspective -- was highly experimental. There were tradeoffs. I think it set the tone fairly well, and helped define a realistic first-person on-the-fly voice for the story. But it also makes it unpolished and unpolishable for a great deal of the early book. (I figure this alone kills the novel's saleability; I'll stick with something a little more traditional for the first one I shop around.) How distracting was this effect, versus how much atmosphere it added? How painful was the complete lack of quote marks for the first 8,000 words? (And, did the transition throughout the story to a more eloquent, rhetorically confident narrator seem out of place?) Did the experiment "fail" or "succeed"?
- Dialogue's long been a bugaboo of mine. Are there any lines that stick in your mind, either for their painfulness or their eloquence? Did characters have unique enough voices; or can you think of easy ways they could be better distinguished?
- My impression as the writer is that the story's pacing is badly broken -- flat with occasional staggers throughout the first 35K words, then one huge frenzied rollercoaster through the end. Is it that bad?
- What gripe bugged you the most as you were reading? ("Bad characterization"? "Flat language"? "Unexciting plot"? Etc. This could steer me toward what can be most improved before Novel the Next.)
If you have any other writing criticisms that you'd like to state, bring 'em up. I won't bite. I don't usually, but this post is an especially bitey-free zone, and what's said in
Incidentally, random "Nothing to contribute, but I did read the novel and liked it" comments are also welcome -- hey, I spent a month on this thing, I deserve a little ego stroking. ]B=8)
* And, yes, there will be a next work. There's always next NaNoWriMo if necessary, but I also have some other ideas I'd like to get out on a more leisurely schedule allowing for better plotting and editing.