Chris Wren series fixes pt. 3 – 2020 Writing Week 30

Mike GristWeekly Writing Update, Writing Leave a Comment

I have written no new words this week ahahahaha!

Rather I have been reworking past Wren books in line with feedback I got from the questionnaire and from Su, and proof-listening to book 4. Let’s take those one by one.

Reworking the Chris Wren series

Part 1 – The questionnaire answers on Chris Wren readthrough, and my responses – Mostly people mentioned lack of engagement, the sickness of book 2, Wren was unlikeable, and cost. I vowed to do better.

Part 2 – I got feedback from Su and boughtt he K-lytics report. Here I thought hard about my book titles and blurbs, and changed them all. I also started thinking about streamlining book 1.

Part 3 – now.

So this week I spent a couple of days reworking books 1-3. As already listed in part 2 – I removed Charles DeVore from book 2 completely. Fine. I looked at doing the same for book 1.

I took out the Mason opening. It made chapters 1-10, even 1-15, look slow and self-indulgent. If I take out the major crime of Mason being snatched, what’s the next really sympathetic action Wren takes?

Beating up the white supremacists? Trouble is, he’s doing it kind of on a whim.

Here I return to how I felt when I wrote the book. I was going forward blind, and spent longer on Wren breaking the gang than I should. With Mason gone, this became clear.

Too many characters introduced, who do little. Baggy as hell. Weighed down. And not sympathetic. So I set out to change that. Here’s what I did:

  • Write Jay Durant out of the book. He brings Wren the semi he uses to steal the bikes. It was a brief encounter originally, responding to other feedback that Wren was too demanding with his teams, but noiw it looks way overlong. So I cut him. Now Henry and Abdul bring the semi. Easy.
  • I remove Demeter, the clerk to the county sheriff’s office. He never got properly introduced anyway, a nd really only served as another person for Wren to explain himself to. He ended up repeating the same things to Demeter, to Humphreys, to Henry and Abdul. Surprisingly easy to remove him.
  • Later on, in Chicago, Wren goes to the Mobil convenience store and has a long chat with two teenage attendants before getting access to the owner, who knew Mason. This is all needless – more explaining. Instead Wren just flashes his CIA card and gets the guy to come down. Easy.
  • Now the beginning is flowing faster, but I’m still feeling little urgency. As the writer, I knew these bikers were bad, but it’s not coming across. So I make them bad. Wren sees the warehouse, then seeks confirmation. Now he crawls right up, and he hears faint screams from inside. Smells baby formula. This confirms human slavery for him. His plan to take down the Brazen Hussy makes more sense from hereon in.
  • The cops at Price PD die. Previously they got abducted. Complex. No need. As I know from the K-lytics report, murder is what people buy, not kidnapping. This raises the bodycount significantly, but we have to hate these guys.
  • Previously he had a nice chat with Cheryl in Chicago, with almost no reference to Wren’s search. Just catching up. I streamlined this right down – Cheryl may have a lead, but they’re working on it. They’ll get back to him. Better, faster.

Overall, I think I’ve lost nothing here – because ultimately I decided to put Mason back. He works. It’s a great crime. Everything else is faster, hopefully boositng engagement, hopefully increasing readthrough. As ever, we’ll see.

Proof-listening to book 4

This is hard work. It’s very listenable, expertly read, but it’s also pretty attention demanding and also dull, since I’ve been through the text so many times. I spot moments where I’ve overwritten a touch, just too many words, and cut them occasionally. Often I let them go because it’s too much work to trim them. If people complain…

Though in the latter chapters things really pick up. Things get fun, there’s quite a lot of laughs – this is probably just because I spent less time re-editing the latter chapters than I did the early chapters.

And sales?

I’m aiming to spend $100 a day on ads. That’s easily do-able, the trick is to do it profitably. That’s happening right now, last couple days I had a 50% return, which is good. Greater readthrough could really transform this number.

Most numbers are moving in the UK. The US I think is crazy competitive.

Oh, one further thing I did was request that Amazon put my books in way more categories in the UK store. I was in 2 or 3 kind of crappy categories. I’m curious if this category expansion (meaning I’ll appear in more category bestseller lists) will lead to more organic sales. It’s definitely more exposure.

I should do the same for Ca and Au Amazon. Takes time, so I’ll see if the UK effort makes any appreciable difference. I’m still waiting for them to put me in the categories – things like Vigilante Justice, Assassins, Conspiracy, etc..

And next week?

Next week, if I get the proof-listening done this weekend, I should be able to go back to new words. Finishing by the end of September is still possible – that’s 2 months off. At 10k a week I’ll still hit it. So 25k by this time next week.

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