Revisiting an Old Classic.
Well, maybe it’s not quite a classic, but it’s where I started.
Yesterday I finished reformatting my original steampunk mystery novella, What Went Wrong With Mrs Milliard’s Mech? Editing the novella was an enlightening experience to say the least, one that was spurred on by a review I received on Amazon almost a year ago, which used my novella to complain about the death of the English language.
When I first read the review, I was mortified, and a touch defensive. I assumed the author was just venting and a little grumpy. I did a scan through my work, and found a few errors, which I fixed. Feeling I had dealt with the issue, I moved on. But underneath my attempts to quickly solve the issue, I found niggling doubt was needling away at me. I put off going back to see how my writing really was for the longest time. In truth, a large part of me was afraid – I didn’t want to cringe at my early work again, and find this reviewer’s assessment to be accurate.
But with the new year arriving, I finally plucked up the courage to stop writing new material, and started reading my old work.
And I discovered that the reviewer was right. Here are some of the key things I picked up:
I wrote my novella in block paragraphs: This was the first thing that struck me. During my initial scan of the manuscript I found myself thinking “where’s the dialogue?” …and then I would find it, stuffed into the middle of a massive text block.
Oh, the pain.
I spent several hours just breaking the text up and making it easier to read. This led me to my next thought.
People have been incredibly gracious in their reviews: Seriously. Mrs Milliard’s Mech has a 3.5 star rating overall. I feel like I was in la-la land thinking that was justified. Now that I’ve made the book more readable, I feel that rating is about right.
The story comes to a close abruptly: This was something people pointed out me, and I agree with them now. Despite this, I’ve made a controversial decision: I’m not going to smooth this out. I want my work, which is free to download and enjoy, to represent exactly where I was at when I wrote it. I pulled the novella together over a weekend, and published it not long after, with a great naivety as to what that would mean; other people scrutinising my efforts.
I know the decision to not extend the story at this moment might mean a few less people download my other novellas, but that’s my decision. The story isn’t perfect, but it’s a perfect representation of an author starting out on their writing journey.
Which brings me to my final point.
The quality of my writing has dramatically improved: That’s the biggest thing I’m taking away from my formatting work. I certainly enjoyed my writing style overall in my novella, but with two years of experience under my belt now, I know I’m continuing to improve every day. You can even see the improvements from my first detective novella to my last, to be fair – and as I write my current series of novels, I’m confident they’re a much better representation of the story I’m trying to tell.
So that’s it. The reformatted work is now up on Amazon, and you can download it if you’re so inclined. It’s certainly better than it was. If you’d like to see part of the original manuscript, you can check it out here. My next step is to reformat The Vanishing Villa, and The Murder at Mansfield Manor, even though everything within me just wants to keep writing new material.
Thank you for your ongoing support everyone, and have a fantastic new year.