Writing a good novel is not easy. From the idea to the planning to the plotting to the execution—it’s an arduous process. In some places—you see the path so clearly. It’s like leaving Rivendell—choose the left path and follow your character. But sometimes, it’s more like the paths of Mirkwood—confusing and tricky, full of traps and dangers.
Anthony had a path—solid and clear. I’d written over half the book and was on track for completion when I decided to send it to my friend Jodi to get her opinion. One sentence—just a quick Facebook message—and all of my hard work came tumbling down.
“Huh, I thought he’d end up with the other brother.”
In that moment, my entire view of the book shifted. Because of course, she was absolutely right. Anthony shouldn’t end up with Patrick. Yes, they bond over their broken brothers—but there’s no organic conflict, no growth. They’re the same people. But Bren – Bren would show Anthony what life is like when you’re too broken to function in a way Aaron couldn’t because of Anthony’s constant resentment.
That conflict not only brings Bren outside himself, but also revives Anthony’s long-dead compassion. It made for a great story.
I scrapped some of the manuscript, but a lot of it I was able to salvage by reframing it into the new storyline—and the book came out much stronger for it.
A concrete example of the invaluable nature of beta readers.