I thought draft #3 was done, until I gave my book to my first beta-reader, my boyfriend.
Verdict: he loves my plot. He gushed about it for hours, actually, including his own alternate universe. It took him about 2 days to read. But there are two major things that need to be addressed:
1.) The “burden.” I can’t discuss this too much without giving the story away, but highlighting the “burden” effectively will require additional chapters and making a tertiary character take on a more important role. This will, in essence, bring my book up to a word count deemed acceptable by traditional publishers, should I change my mind and decide to go that route – no doubt lengthening this process. This will also make my book more expensive for readers, which is not what I was hoping for, but… It’ll still be cheaper than from a traditional publisher, and a higher quality story will make the purchase more worth it.
2.) Characterization. All of the characters are a little… Wimpy. I tried to make them too real, too confused, and by leaving none of the characters with any conviction, I actually made the opposite occur. I didn’t create compelling characters my boyfriend could care about or relate to. They all just kind of let things happen to them. They were too reactive. No one in this world is just reacting to everything.
I wish I didn’t agree with his evaluation. Publishing this story tomorrow, or even my goal of Christmastime, would make me so happy. Unfortunately, I have a boatload of work ahead of me. While I won’t let myself join George R.R. Martin’s Lengthy Writing Club, this is still going to take more time than I’d like. I’m not actually ready to announce a publication date, despite how badly I want this book out. It needs significant additions and revisions.
Most of my editing took place on the computer, by the way. Now that I’m editing on paper, I’m noticing all sorts of spots I can add to. To anyone editing a story, I strongly suggest using both methods. Editing on the computer catches technical/grammar/spelling issues, while editing on paper somehow seems to release Creativity Hormones that enliven the story. In this same vein, I’ve seen suggested that editing the book in multiple fonts is a good idea because your brain processes the unfamiliar in a fresh way.
Despite my urge to just get this thing onto shelves, I’m going to take the time to make it happen right. I finished reading The Passage by Justin Cronin and… Wow. Those characters are so real, you could reach out and touch them. The end of the story feels like it came too fast, but other than that, it was a beautifully told story from start to finish. My boyfriend bought me the sequel for my birthday and I’m really excited to read it. I would venture to say that it’s actually made my own writing better, as well. Cronin’s imagery is perfectly done and I can only hope to achieve that level of skill. Too many writers make imagery feel forced.
Fast-forward to what I’m reading now: The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner.
“Are you fifteen?” my boyfriend asked when he caught me reading it.
“No. It was on sale on Amazon for $5 and I’ve been curious about it since it came out. It’s a mindless buffer after finishing a long book. I can’t wait to finish it. It sucks.”
Sorry, Stephenie. I loved the Twilight series in high school, but Short Second Life isn’t even on the same reading level. I wanted to love it, but these characters have the same problem that mine do right now: they’re all reactionary. I’m 100 pages in with 78 to go and nothing has really happened, excluding arms being torn off and a couple kids hiding in a cave and spying together. With 78 pages to go, I’ll be open to a miracle, but I’m not counting on it. We’ve got an 18 year old kissing a 15 year old and that turned me off right away. Maybe I’m just getting old, but this book has been getting dusty on a shelf in my local Annie’s Book Stop for several months and now it’s no mystery why. There will be a second book to keep it company there soon.
Does anyone reading have anything specific they do to edit more effectively?