I participated in Pitch Wars earlier this month, and THE ACCIDENTAL WARLOCK wasn't chosen - trust me, y'all would have heard about it at length (and at volume) if it was. ^_^ But on the plus side, I heard back from all four mentors I submitted to, and got some useful critique of my first few pages.
One of the things I heard was something I'd wondered about and now wish I'd fixed before submitting - Shiloh, the main character, came off as harsh and/or arrogant, and hard to relate to. The thing is, in the book's initial first chapter, she was way too passive; I realized this and some of my pre-readers said the same thing. But when I rewrote the chapter, I went way too far in the other direction.
After tonight's work, though, I can say it wasn't too difficult to fix. The book starts off in a library, and it's easy to capture Shiloh's love for the place when it's a feeling I share. She's there to find a book she's seen in her dreams, so she's determined, but more full of wonder at what this could mean and why she's dreamed of finding the book than dead sure that the book will be there and anyone who says otherwise is wrong.
I have to admit, I'm really glad I took care of this before anyone else read it. I don't know if I would have known how to fix it without getting the mentors' feedback.
Another point was that there wasn't much world-building. I'm honestly not certain how much world-building I can get into less than three single-spaced pages, but I went through and tried to fit as many little details as I could. Not the easiest thing without resorting to "As you know" infodumps, especially since neither of the two characters talking would tell the other something like that. We learn about the world as the story goes on, and I think that's a better way.
And, as with any critique, there were things the mentors said that I just don't understand. I thought about writing back to the mentors and asking for clarification, but instead I've looked closer at the book and tried to figure out why they said what they said. Some of it I can sort of understand, some of it I just have to shrug off. I know this isn't a new issue; I'm sure everyone's gotten back critique that made them blink and make weird expressions as they tried to figure out what the reader was thinking. And I am grateful for the critique despite this. Ah, well.
With that in mind, I will be looking for critique partners after the holidays; I've bookmarked a few recommended sites that I heard about via Twitter, so I'm hoping for the best with that. If anyone reading this wants to swap books-in-progress, let me know. TAW is YA fantasy; here's a general description. I tend to like fantasy and sci-fi, but I'm willing to give just about anything a try, though I'm not much interested in contemporary romance.
Next entry: this year's over, time to look forward to another.