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  • jimclougherty

Seven Seals Log #3: The Finished Draft and a Temporary Hold

In early January, I finished my first draft of Seven Seals. It was probably delayed about a month because my original idea just didn't work (See the previous Seven Seals Log) and I needed to split it up into multiple books. I think in the end this will prove to be a good thing because I can focus much more on what was originally going to be a rushed final act and make it a full book.

Finishing this draft wasn't quite as exciting as when I finished Gold Fever's, but it's not due to a lack of enthusiasm or anything along those lines. One issue is that I'm still not sure how this would be received as a sequel. Gold Fever was all about being in a claustrophobic environment; only one area (Mt. Couture) is explored throughout the book. In Seven Seals, there aren't any claustrophobic environments aside from a few chapters, but even then it's not particularly emphasized. Instead, Seven Seals sees the characters going to a variety of different locations throughout the Dark Savior world, crossing countries and seas - big, open areas. It's the opposite of the first book in many ways, but keeps the dark themes and fantasy aspects. In addition, the main group of the first book splits up for the entirety of Seven Seals, so I'm telling two smaller stories within one big story.

One of my biggest concerns was how well the two stories would flow. I got a pattern down early on; a three act structure where act one would be the setup, act two would see the separation of the characters into two groups and deeply explore two different regions with problems (Albeit different ones) related to the Dark Savior, and act three would be the conclusion of both stories, with the characters leaving to meet up on a new country. Each time perspective of the story shifted, I would sandwich a chapter in between which showed what the mastermind behind the first and current book was up to. I thought of it like a play with an interlude; a way for people to catch their breaths.

Even though it makes sense in my own mind, I'm not sure how others will feel about the change in structure. Will it be too difficult to follow? Do people want to follow multiple groups of people in one story to begin with? The only way for me to know for sure is with beta-readers. Much like testing in video games, this is an important step in figuring out what the problems are with the book before moving forward with editing. The problem? Getting people to read a draft for a sequel is difficult. It wasn't exactly easy to get readers for the Gold Fever draft either, but at least that was something brand new. Now I need to find people who have read the first book and are interested in reading an unfinished second book. You could argue that someone who enjoyed the first book wouldn't want to read an unpolished version of the second, and it wouldn't make sense to bring someone in who hasn't read the first book, so what's the solution?

Hiring professional beta readers was the conclusion that I came to. I'll probably have to pay them double to read the first book so that they understand what is going on in the second, but on Fiverr, they don't charge a ton of money anyway. There are some sites out there where people voluntarily beta read, but again, we have the issue that they'll need to have read Gold Fever first. Will they being willing to read a book before they can even beta read the other one? I have my doubts. That's why it seems to me like paying for it is the only option.

And that brings me to the second big issue and why I have to put things on hold for now... money. I made it quite far without having much of an income, but the time has come where I need to make money if I want to move forward with anything. It's a bitter pill to swallow, because if I had an extra year I feel like I could have made this work without any distractions. Still, no plan is ever exact or perfect. The bottom line is if I want cover art, editing, and beta reading done, I have to go out and get a corporate job. It always drove me crazy a few years back, when I worked on games, how I would only have a couple of hours per day to work on what I actually wanted to do with my life. And that was on a good day; if I wanted to spend time with anyone, or do something that wasn't work, I would go without getting anything done on some days.

I will probably go into more detail on this in a later blog entry, but overall I was chasing my own version of the brass ring that I was never going to catch. I'm glad that I went off and became self-employed. I learned a lot from it, and most importantly I came to an understanding of what I truly wished to do. If I had continued grinding for two hours a night on a video game, I would likely still be doing the same thing to this day, thinking that someday I would break through. But that day was never coming, because making games just wasn't for me. With one book, I have already done much better for myself than I did with three games. And I have many books in mind, even outside of the Dark Savior Series. But I can't go any further without money, and I can't make any more money on books without sequels, so now I'm on the hunt for a job.

This means that until I get a solid income, I have to put Seven Seals on temporary hold. I'm hoping it'll be less than a month before I move forward, but having been out of the workforce for some time, it could be longer. I'm currently applying for work like crazy though, so I'm hopeful that it'll be the former.

In the meantime, I do have one other topic I'd like to discuss, so I'll have at least another blog entry in the coming weeks. That one will be about the things I learned working for myself. Perhaps beneficial to learn from the successes and mistakes I've made for anyone who is considering taking the plunge!

- Jim

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