So the old saying goes that the first pancake of the batch is never any good. By the second, third, fourth, you get a feel for the temperature, and know when to flip it so it’s that nice golden brown colour. A lot of people dismiss the first pancake because of this theory, throwing it in the rubbish (‘trash’ for all you Americans).
Taking this and applying it to my writing, The Institute is my first pancake. Before I published it, I had no idea a world of supportive indie authors was waiting for me on the other side. The only people who had read my book was my family and friends. All of them were supportive and encouraging and gave me the confidence to publish.
A few of them had mentioned the story was slow to get into. I knew they were right, but I had no idea how to fix it. I was inexperienced, and just spent eighteen months perfecting it. Now I have to change it again? I whinged. I could have paid for an editor, but for a manuscript of that size, for what I was looking for, would normally cost around $600. And this would be considered “cheap” in the editing world. Struggling wannabe authors don’t have that kind of cash. Others who read my book had said that they didn’t find it slow at all, that everything that happens in the beginning is vital for what happens later. So I left it. Even though I didn’t like it. I was expecting some reviews to point out the slow beginning, so I was prepared for that. Everyone has a different opinion and I knew there were some people out there who liked it the way it was, and there would be others too.
Since writing The Institute, I have written and released the sequel, Resistance, and am preparing the third to be published later in the year. I’m also two thirds through writing a new book which is in the same Institute world, but new characters, fifteen-twenty years after Allira’s story. What my point here is, I have a second, third, fourth pancake that I’m proud of. I’m still learning, I think this is the type of industry where you never stop learning.
I was right. Majority of reviews have been positive, but the one thing that’s a constant is pointing out the slow beginning. So after yet another review stating The Institute was way too slow to get into, I knew something had to be done. I had a light-bulb moment, and got to work.
Using what I know now, I’ve managed to delete about 4000 unnecessary words. FOUR THOUSAND UNNECESSARY WORDS. In the author world, unnecessary words are evil. And I had a bunch of them, wasting my MC’s and my reader’s time.
How did I do this without changing the story line?
They always say, “Show, don’t tell.” But what happens when you’re showing scenes that aren’t pivotal to the story? By removing two major scenes that only contained a small amount of vital information, then working said vital information into a conversation between my MC and her love interest, the beginning becomes tighter and quicker to get into. I’m hoping.
So, this is really just a long-ass post, alerting you all to the fact that The Institute has had a face lift. Will it affect those who have already read it? No, because the entire plot remains the same, minus a few minor points that doesn’t matter how it happened, so long as the reader is told it happened. (One of said points is a conversation between Allira and her English teacher. This conversation is no longer seen, but Allira tells Drew about the conversation, stating the important part.)
I was also able to add more world building points while I was at it. For instance, does anyone know why there are no mobile phones in the future in Allira’s world? (Cell phones for you Americans.) I’m able to explain that because the country became self-sufficient when a pandemic broke out decades ago, the cost of mobile devices became phenomenal. The technology still exists but is reserved for government agencies only.
Same goes for the proliferation of lab grown foods. Lab grown food is something we’ve already achieved in this lifetime, but what would happen if there was a catastrophic event where the majority of the population was wiped out? One of the first things the government would do is secure a sustainable food source for the remaining population.
While I believe these points could have remained out – letting the reader determine these things for themselves, anything that gives the world more depth is worth adding in.
So what happens when you don’t make the perfect first pancake? Write a second edition.