I Received feedback from my editor on the first five chapters of INCENTIVIZE, and it's nearly a complete re-write. It never ceases to amaze me how difficult it is to see the flaws in my own work.
Funny, when I was reading it and reviewing it myself, it seemed fairly tight, and I thought it moved along nicely. When he began to point out the big picture weaknesses, however, I could see them -- the biggest ones being the story starts too slow, the interesting plot elements seem unconnected to the main flow, and the physical descriptions were lacking.
Truth be told, I suspected the action was developing a little slowly -- and had considered plunging into the story a little further on in the plot, but felt it would require way too much backstory revelation later. My instincts were correct in this respect, but I think I'd underestimated the magnitude of the problem. And it wasn't a wholesale relocation of of the starting point that was required, but just a quicker path to the main thread.
The second problem was wanting to squeeze too much of what I know about Ethiopia into the tale. I was looking for a way to put in intesting elements like the coffee ceremony, or the war with Eritrea, or the danakil salt caravans. They were interesting to me, but didn't necessarily relate directly to the plot. I painfully cut most of this material out.
And I worked on building more memorable physical descriptions of the places -- particularly the highlands and the cities and villages.
Overall, I wacked meetings and discussions, irrelevant but interesting cultural elements, and started the story from a slightly different plot point. The first five chapters are now twenty-five percent shorter, and much more connected to the plot.
Now I'll be waiting patiently for another round of feedback.