On July 17, 2015, I sent out all 80,300 words to a select group of beta readers, with the tall order of reviewing the manuscript within 2 weeks.
Then I cracked open Writing 21st Century Fiction by Donald Maass...and realized how many dozens of wonderful things I could do to improve the story.
The Fire in Fiction and Writing the Breakout Novel are still on my reading list. Maass, a well-known New York agent, really knows what he's talking about. I want to learn all I can before I submit the story to him and other agents.
Last week, a friend and beta reader, Jordan Cavanaugh, challenged me to determine what the ultimate goal for this project was. "Do you just want to write a book?" "Are you intent on publishing THIS book?" "How are you ever going to determine when it's ready to submit?"
Hm. Yes, I want to write a book. Yes, I want to publish THIS book. When is it ever going to be ready? Well, that depends...
Problem is, I don't really know what I'm doing. I've never written a book before, and I've never tried to get anything published. Every time I do a little more research into how one polishes a manuscript, I see new weak spots and gaps in mine.
Thankfully, I'm starting to read about things I've already done (remove unnecessary adverbs, check. reduce exotic dialogue tags, check. drip feed backstory, check.). It's nice to feel like we're making progress.
Am I happy with where the story is at? Heck, yes! It's so much better than where it was 6 months ago, 1 year ago...Am I satisfied? ...Almost.
Believe me, I'm just as impatient as the next fledgling author. I want to be done, I'm itching for professional feedback...
But I want to start off well. It would be such a waste to send the story out prematurely and to hear, "It's just not quite ready." So, even before I've received feedback from these readers, I'm already identifying parts that need tweaking.
I'm making a pledge to be more consistent with these updates, so that regular readers and fellow writers can get a glimpse into what intensive editing looks like.