How to Re-boot Better?

I had a story about a 40+ age woman who kicked younger sassy rivals to the curb in the matriarchal society. I thought it was awesome, but it failed hard. I had someone look at it, and call it too niche, despite them liking the character and the world. They advised to reboot it as YA/NA or epic fantasy.

I want to do that, starting the story with the MC being 16, and adding a lot of epic adventures prior to the wrap up (the original story).

Do I rename the story, and put it in the different category to do the reboot, or do I add the chapters in front of the old novella as I complete the parts? Or keep the title & start over?

Does simply changing the character’s age while working in the world that had failed (i.e. matriarchal society) make sense? Or do both of those parameters make the story niche, and the whole thing should be abandoned?

Having read the story in question (and really enjoyed it!) I don’t know that it was really Ismar’s age that was the issue. I don’t think the matriarchal society world-building was particularly niche either. There’s really rich world-building in your story, and the reader gets to explore lots of facets, which was wonderful. However, I think this may have been an issue because people like seeing how characters change over the course of the story - which is likely one of the things we like about younger MCs. There wasn’t a lot of that with Ismar.

I don’t mean that you ought to de-age her just for that reason. She’s a really strong and different kind of character, which was refreshing to read. The greater issue was that we went on an exploration of the world, but we didn’t really do much, if that makes sense. There were a few chapters focused on the romance, a few on political machinations, a few on battles, a few on the gods - but we never got to really get involved in the events. The plot and character development was fairly minimalist, which means that to me it felt like we were just dipping our toes into a greater story. Which was enjoyable, but not completely satisfying. Consequently, I’d be interested in a story where Ismar faces higher stakes, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be one where she’s a teenager.

2 Likes

Yes, that was another problem I wanted to fix, that Ismar have something to learn — though I did think she did in the novella, by allowing Nirav to keep his dignity— but maybe go for more traditional moral lessons.

I plan to work my way through her life, from nothing to acquiring everything, and then having so much that she can toss things out after she wins them in Nirav’s story. I want it to be inspired by Dreiser’s trilogy, the Financier, Titan, Stoic.

The question is, do I stay in the confines of the old title, or rewrite it as the separate title and leave the old novella alone.

Gotcha. I’d say maybe leave the old novella alone and start it as a new book (if not necessarily with a different title). It seems like you’re going to be adding a lot of new material, and you might end up fiddling around with some of the stuff that was in the novella too. It’s like when you write a short story and expand the idea into a novel - the germ of it’s there, but you’re writing a brand new work.

1 Like

Thank you for talking to me about it :slight_smile: yes, I want a full length story to come out of it eventually.

Why was it too niche? What about it made it so super niche?

1 Like

It was the choice of the protagonist (a mature woman who is at her peak of power and accomplishment) and what @rosemaryandrue mentioned, the way the lore was cut back it didn’t present as an epic fantasy, but on the other hand, it had too much politics and lore for a romance. The final problem was matriarchy and how the male lead was for a mainstream romance. It also was a novella, so that might have worked against it as well.

I know that there are stories that made such characters work well, like Peabody in Peters or Mother in Crazy Rich Asians, or in Devil Wears Prada, but they also feature younger, more relatable girls too.

Someone also mentioned they’d wanted to see clash of Cersei and Dany, while I was interested in and highlighted the conflict of Cersei and Margery.

I also drew on Hindu and Italianate themes, but that wasn’t cited as problematic.

Overall, while working on it, I believed I was onto something excellent, but with comments I understood that I missed the big themes that draw people. So, I want to try again with the same setting but more common rebellious adolescent journey.

And, also, with the younger writing style, something I keep working on.

Sounds more like it was just doing a lot of different things at once, or packing in many things.

If a 40 year old woman has universal issues they’re tackling, there’s always something there regardless of age (once you’re past a certain age). While yes, on this platform, you’ll probably scare or turn some people away just on raw age issues, if you don’t really mention it early on and instead present the universals, people could just get right into it.

Mostly to me it sounds like it was just melding a lot of things that weren’t particularly flowing together, which would likely still be an issue even in a rebooted environment.

1 Like

No, there wasn’t any universal issues, that was the problem. No Big Universal Moral Lesson. It was a narrowly focused love story with a couple of twists.

I could not obscure her age, because it started with her coming out of retirement — I didn’t even realize at the time that her age would be a problem. I, on the opposite, thought it would be a selling point, because I listened to the not another inexperienced sassy heroine cliche threads. I made the sassy teen heroine an antagonist.

I’m just keeping the setting for the rewrite, the story will be different, covering the early events in her life, with even less lore, and no succession subplot requiring a touch of sophistication to invert from patriarchal society to strictly female line of succession, more of a relationships thing without historic parallels.

It doesn’t have to be a universal as in a moral lesson, it can just be the universality of feeling or situation or emotions. The construct of having to leave retirement makes for a tricky set up certainly.

Those threads will get you. People complain about superhero movies and disney and yet they make all the top selling movies…

1 Like

I get suckered easily because I’m also get tired of the sameness of the plots and characters as I read more and more.