I put a lot of work on the current chapter (#22), but it's only been out for a couple hours and already I'm getting flak about it. I'd planned on writing a whole thing about how the chapter came to be, and how I wrestled with it, but I think I'm going to change direction and return to a previous question I posed to my readers a short time ago.
A while back, I was having doubts about where the story was going, and I asked my readers what they thought about it. Although the numbers of readers is still good, and a lot of people are still following the story each week, apparently a lot of them are pretty disgrunteled. They pointed out that the story doesn't seem to be going anywhere, and that it was getting mired in petty details.
As a result I've been working since that point to revamp the story, give it a new focus, and try to make it a bit more exciting. This was the first chapter I wrote since I got that response, so the reaction I'm getting from it seems to be telling for how the rest of my changes will likely be received. It's probably too early to base any decisions on, but it seems like a good time to address the issues.
So I'll ask it again: where do you see the story going?
I realize the story has become a bit mired, and I'd attempted to save it, but it's looking like that effort has largely fallen flat. The overall message so far is that this chapter is just more of the same. That it addresses the same issue as multiple others have, and that it fails for the same reason the others have as well. Whereas I was trying to breathe new life into the tale, it's basically too little too late.
Basically, I'm afraid that the problems with Book 3 are deeper than simple subplots, added conflict or a change in tempo can fix. I suspect I made several serious mistakes on the latest book. The biggest was simply starting it. I really should have taken a couple of months to clear my mind, allowed myself to get out of my 'editing mode' mindset, and only attempted writing again after I'd gotten out from under the old story (Books 1 & 2).
The other problem seems to be the nature of this story. It's basically a road trip religious story without any new religious perspectives. Alex doesn't spend enough time anywhere for the focus to develop the characters, and he keeps repeating the same things over and over with slightly different focuses each time.
Frankly, I'm not sure I CAN save the story at this stage, as the problems I'm seeing in it seem to be fairly endemic.
So, the basic questions are:
1) Can the story be saved?
2) Would you like to see it continue as it is, simply because you like the writing style, or should I just can it and start a new one after taking time to decompress?
3) If you think I should rework it, what could I possibly do to make it as interesting as Books 1 & 2 were?
I guess I'm just feeling myself running out of room. I knew the story has been dragging. When I asked about it, you, my readers, confirmed it. Since then I've been dumped on by a couple of different writers, who each confirm that the story is having issues. At this point I'm just not sure how to turn it around, or even if it can be turned around, given the basic limitations of the story.
Finally, would everyone be happier if I just brought it to a rapid conclusion?
(By the way, the rest of the 'new chapters' will unfold in the coming weeks. The chapters in San Antonio are probably the best, although they have issues just like the rest do. So bear that in mind when you read them.)