After listening to the archives of the Writing Excuses blog for two days in a row, I am now almost convinced that I need to modify the beginning of the book. As of now, it starts (and always had been starting) with a lengthy encyclopedic pseudo-quote:
The Great White Desert, Heart Of Lands, or, simply, the Flats, is a vast territory of thinnest silt dust, baked by the Sun into an immense ceramic plane, that spreads for thousands of miles in the very center of the Circle of Known Lands*.
And it goes on for 944 words. You can read the whole thing here.
As important as it is for the setup of my world, I would totally understand a reader growing bored and dropping the book without even getting to the good parts—and there are plenty!
It is not something which needs to be addressed this very instant—I should concentrate on finishing the damn thing!—but I had been entertaining myself for quite a while now with the idea of continuing Barge and Squirrel’s storyline throughout the main narrative as a series of interludes between the book parts, giving the reader more insight into Dae’s backstory—his two years in Zurbah—otherwise unreachable (and, therefore, untellable) by anyone he encounters in the scope of his two weeks in Stormhold (that’s right, I am over 430,000 words in, describing events occurring over two weeks; in my defense, though: I started with seven POV characters, killed two, and introduced one). I already thought of some interesting twists and revelations I can use the secondary Barge/Squirrel story for.
The plan now is to start with the Ethelle’s departure from Zafza, then break for the nerdy stuff, then continue with the pirates.
Unless my future alpha-readers club will convince me that it is fine to start with the boring stuff…