Last year (that sounds so long ago, doesn’t it?), I submitted my first novel, Devil’s Blood, to Critters (an online writer critique group). I got two readers.
That sounds dismal, I know, and it probably is, but I got back two great critiques by J.M. Odell and Ashleigh Richie (thank you, two, again!). And to top it off, a good friend of mine, Learco Finck, also managed to fit my novel into his busy schedule. So, I got three awesome critiques.
I pretty much applied all their suggestions. At least, the ones that pointed out my obvious errors (‘widen’ instead of ‘widened’, ‘this’ instead of ‘his’, ‘belongs’ instead of ‘belongings’, and countless others). But, of course, as good critiquers, they didn’t just point out the simple typos and grammatically errors, they also pointed out bad writing habits, some plot holes (or, at least, sags), problems with character development, and story structure trouble.
Those are a lot harder to fix. I had to add an entire section and chapter to explain stuff (I’m now at 80,000 words – it was supposed to be a novella!). I re-wrote other parts to clarify events, and tried to add more “umph” to the climax. Not sure I succeeded, but I did try. Though a new reader might not see it, I think the manuscript is better. I hope.
I know it is better than the very first draft of this beast that four other wonderful writers critiqued a year ago. Joe Bailey, Dan Bieger, Todd Newton, and Stephen ‘B5’ Jones all had a hand in shaping the primordial mud that birthed Devil’s Blood. A thousand humble bows to you all.
So…now what? Is it ready to submit to an agent or, egad, self-publish?
Not by a long shot. It is time for me to really nitpick the hell out of the text. I have a checklist of writing gaffes that I can use the search function in Word to find and then fix. I’ve started on that list, but the deeper I get into the story, the more I realize I need serious help. Man, do I suck.
But, that’s besides the point. I wanted to share my checklist with you (developed with my own poor writing habits in mind, but you might find it useful):
Things I can search for:
- passive sentences (search for ‘to be’, ‘was’, ‘is’, ‘were’)
- excessive or lazy adverbs (search for ‘*ly’)
- vary sentence structure (search for ‘as’ dependent clauses)
General things I need to work on:
- action then reaction
- organize paragraphs (main idea, elaborate, conclude – sounds basic, I know, but I need reminding)
- one sentence per idea
- set the scene
- remember to interjected the BIG idea, the central theme of the book: vanity, mystery of Lorena’s origins, and main character’s flaw
I’m shooting to have my checklist complete by next weekend, along with a synopsis of the book.
Why, you might ask?
Because I’ve managed to find an editor willing to work with me. I promised her (and myself) that I would have a synopsis, and the book, ready for her by the 15th of January, 2012.
Yes, folks, like all good writers, I’m putting it out there for more abuse. I like to think I’ve done so much work on it, gone through so many drafts, that she will simply sit back and enjoy the story. But not even my dog is buying that one (he just groaned when I wrote the previous sentence).
It is getting better. Each time I throw the beast out there, it comes back bloodied and tattered. My heart quails at the sight, but somehow it continues to breath. Like a phoenix, my story rises from the ashes and refuses die.
I suppose I do deserve Emmie Mears Friday Fellow badge. 🙂
After my editor (sounds so official!) has her way with my story, I’ll report any progress. Until later, readers, edit till you puke. 😉