Big fan here with a somewhat big problem. I’m currently stuck in the revision stage of my story.
I’m a sucker for portal fantasy, so my story is set on a magical world populated by shapeshifters (for brevity, think of DS9‘s Founders). My protagonist is basically a kind of gamekeeper, charged with protecting the nature/animals in the lands of his family, but he dreams of joining the Royal Guard to shake up his life. While in pursuit of some hunters, he stumbles upon my villain and uncovers a plot to steal a magical artifact from the royal family, which gives the user the power of teleportation/portals. My protagonist gets enmeshed in the events while trying to stop the villain and in the end, both are transported to our world. While on Earth, he meets a girl and her family, who help him track down the villain and get back to his own world.
I’ve split my story into two parts, with each part being a new book. Part One ends with my MC transported to Earth. Part Two is for the most part set on Earth.
My beta readers do like the story, but some felt it would be better to switch the POVs around – meaning the girl from Part Two should be the MC transported to the magical world, instead of my shapeshifter.
In the beginning I decided against that premise of a human transported to another world, because I feel that‘s been done enough already and wanted to switch that around. But ever since I got the feedback from my beta readers, I’m not so sure anymore.
Any advice on whether or not I should rewrite the story or stick to my original plan?
Greetings from GermanyChris
Hey Chris, thanks for writing in!
Without having read your book, it sounds like the change you’re talking about would be pretty big. You’d be switching main characters, the primary setting, and probably the plot as well. In effect, you would largely be writing a different story.
This is not generally how I recommend responding to beta reader feedback. While there’s nothing wrong with the traditional portal-fantasy narrative, it’s not inherently superior to other premises either. This type of change would be about personal taste and what you want to write and not what actually makes the story better.
My best guess is that these suggestions are a response to the story not having enough novelty. Readers are imagining that it would seem cool and new to explore the magical world through a regular person’s eyes rather than vice versa, because such stories usually have high novelty.
If that’s the case, you might look at options to boost novelty within the story you already have. Your character’s shapechanging powers are a good place to start, along with how this character interacts with the world around him. See if you can put some twist on these powers to set them apart from other shapeshifters, and then explore how he needs to adapt to the strange place that is our world.
Beyond that, we also have a few posts on novelty that might be helpful:
- How to Make Your Character Novel
- Podcast: The Importance of Novelty
- Six Ways to Add Novelty to Your Story
- Originality is Dead: Long Live Novelty!
Of course, that’s just my guess based on what you’ve told me. It’s possible they’re reacting to something else entirely, like the magical world being a lot to take in at once, which they imagine would be easier with a protagonist from Earth. Whatever the case, this is why we recommend using beta readers as data points rather than as suggestions for how to improve a story. If several beta readers comment on something, it’s a problem, but they probably don’t have any more idea how to fix it than you do. We also have a couple posts on beta reading you might enjoy:
Hope that answers your question, and good luck with your story!