Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ask a Good Reader What They Think

I’m lucky because I’ve got a few good readers who have consistently been reading my manuscript for the past – ahem – three years. But every manuscript needs a pair of fresh, critical eyes. I was lucky enough to have a good friend who has worked in publishing read my first three chapters – her feedback was immensely helpful. Most of us, however, are not that lucky. If you have a friend who is a good, critical reader and is willing to look at your manuscript, that’s a good place to start.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Don't Stop Believin'

This is pretty stupid. I have a full time job, a baby, a workout schedule, friends and all the other trappings of adult life. They all suffer (a little) so that I can spend about 12-14 hours per week writing a book that stands a small chance of being published. Even if it is published it stands a pretty good chance of earning enough to buy lunch for me and a friend – as long as we eat at a pretty cheap place.

At times I’ve thought of redirecting my computer use to the stuff people usually use them for: Facebook, newspapers and shopping for sewing supplies. Sometimes I think of diverting my time into reading other people’s books. But I don’t…because I believe that my book is going to get published.

My husband helps me get time to work on my book by giving me the confidence to occasionally say “no” to social events and scrubbing toilets. He has taken over much of the house cleaning. Sometimes he talks about “Thud Factor.” That’s the pride he’ll feel when a book with my name on it lands on a table. I think he’s more confident that my book will be published than I am.

We may be stupid, but we won’t stop believin’.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Outline More, Cut Less

“So, without putting too fine a point on it, we’re going to have to let you go.” This is a recent conversation I had with chapter four. I put lots of time into it. I balanced the funny portions of it with the tense ones. I edited it to the bone, leaving not even so much as a comma up for consideration. But when I reread it, one stark reality came to my mind: it didn’t move the plot forward. I dragged it to the trash with some sadness.

As I look back on it now all of this could have been avoided if I had started outlining sooner. The chapters I wrote after that have a much better shot at staying employed through the editorial process. Outlining came too late for chapter 4. Chapter 1 suffered less, but did have the first half of its content rearranged and its starting place moved around a few times.

I know it doesn’t seem cool or sophisticated to write an outline but I won’t ever give it up. I don’t have the time to waste on another chapter 4.