Here is what Timothy R. had to say in “Bland characters,” his 3-star review of The Tiger’s Eye:
I struggled to rate this book. It was not awful and I was able to finish it, which is saying something with all the indy books now. The main character starts off in such a way to want to get to know him more but never really develops. It really did feel like a bad rpg game to be honest. There was some world building but not a lot and it felt that many aspects of it were just modified dnd. A lot of the story did not add to the story and there felt like to much bland filler.
If you’ve been following my blog, you know I sometimes comment on the reviews, and I think this one needs an explanatory response. I can definitely understand what led him to think “many aspects of it were just modified dnd,” since I wrote the first draft when I was still playing that game, but the story morphed into something else during the development of the novel. (See the early writing updates about the Tiger’s Eye for more on this.) The second book has a stronger influence of D&D, but there is still a great deal of internal conflict within Angus, but I think I’ve gotten further away from that influence in Book 3. As for his comment about the “bland filler…”
I have been a reader for a long time, and I dislike novels that are “padded” with unnecessary information just as much as Timothy does. I do my best to minimize it in my own stories, but I don’t always succeed. Still, The Tiger’s Eye is the first book in the series, and a number of the things that occur in it are unresolved until Book 2 and Book 3 (and even Book 4). I’m not sure if that is what Timothy is referring to as “bland filler” though, since there is a lot of description about the use of magic, and it may be overdone at times in Book 1. Anyway, I am always aware of what I am doing in my stories and frequently eliminate material from them that doesn’t serve some purpose. Of course, I am not perfect, and what I think is necessary may not seem that way to others, which is why I have my mom read what I write so I can talk with her about it. She’s usually a pretty good litmus test, since she’s read thousands of books (a lot of mysteries) and tends not to tell me it’s good unless she really likes it. (Case in point: She was not fond of The Snodgrass Incident because it was too heavy on the science and didn’t have enough character interaction. The Tiger’s Eye has so much character interaction because it was partly a response to of what she said about that novel, and I think I may have overdone it a bit.) Her comments on the drafts of Book 3 have been quite helpful in fixing problems, developing the plot sequence, and encouraging me through the challenging spots.
Lastly, although I have been writing for a long time, I am relatively new at writing novels. I’m learning a lot about it as I go. It isn’t the same as writing short stories, which tend to be plot-driven (one of my strengths as a writer), and it has taken me a while to begin to feel like a novelist. I’m finally there, and I think it will show in Book 3 (The Golden Key). I think is my best novel to date because it has a better balance between plot and character interaction/development. It also brings together almost all of the loose plot threads from the first two books, which is a good way to wrap up this trilogy while setting up another one.