Friday, April 16, 2010

write, read, revise!

i'm feeling good about my current novel.
no, i haven't miraculously found more time to spend writing it, but the fact i'm still enthusiastic and pushing forward is pleasing. also, i've been getting positive feedback from my two readers, which really makes me happy.
i've posted before about my different state of mind with this novel - that i'm not rushing full steam ahead, and am carefully listening to my readers' critiques. for my first draft, i've only two people reading my chapters as i write them. neither of them are authors, and only one is actually familiar with the young adult genre.

"so why the hell did you choose those two to give you feedback?" you might be asking.
well, i'll tell you:
my female reader is a voracious reader. she often reads two books at a time and can spot surprise endings a mile away. i picked her to critique my wip because she can clearly articulate what works plot wise for a reader. she knows which characters need more development and when the pacing needs to be picked up. i picked her because she is part of my target audience.
my male reader has never read a young adult novel except for twilight (and he read that only because of the vampires). i picked him to critique my work because he's a screenwriter and knows how to develop a storyline and characters. he can easily tell when there are plot holes, or when scenes are overwritten.

every writer knows how important it is to edit their work (well, at least every writer will learn how important it is). i'm not even done completing my first draft and i'm already thinking about the changes i'll be making when i do my revisions! but no matter how much you revise/edit your own work, you still need feedback from other people, especially if what you write is intended for an audience.
i'm really lucky to have two readers who are willing to read chapter by chapter and give me feedback. i'm lucky to have already been able to use their critiques to improve my novel, even though it is still a work in progress.
and i'm lucky that they are willing to read it all over again once i've finished my second draft.

but even though my two readers are fabulous, and have great insight, i still will search out other beta readers when i've finished my novel (and my first edit). and i will listen to everything they have to say about my manuscript, whether it's positive, negative or indifferent. and i will use what they say in the best way i know how to make my novel as strong as it can be.


Johnny Yen said...

Editing is tough, but essential! It's hard to admit that the piece of writing that you've poured your heart and soul into could be tightened and improved.

I had to take English 101 a few semesters ago-- a requirement for nursing school. Somehow I'd gotten three college degrees, including a Master's in Political Science and an elementary education certification without taking it (I talked my way out of it twice). I decided not to take a chance this time, and went ahead and took it. I spent a lot of time helping classmates-- most of the people in my class were foreign-born, so they needed a lot of help with mechanics, etc., but I benefitted from it too-- it forced me to take a look at my own writing and editing process for my blog. I think that in the end, it tightened up my writing.

Christine Fletcher said...

I can't remember who said "Writing is rewriting"--but he/she was right.

The other quote I've always loved is, "Novels are never finished, only abandoned." THAT one is definitely true!

Kudos to you for getting feedback and listening to it. I know some writers prefer to do an entire first draft w/o showing it to anyone, but I can't fathom the idea.

mi said...

johnny yen - wow, i am amazed at the amount of schooling you've had and are still having!

christine - with my other novels i had no idea how important feedback was WHILE i was writing. but now, happily, it's a lesson i've learned!

Random Thinker said...

Did it take time to get used to the criticism. Seems you pour so much of yourself into writing that it would be hard if somebody didn't like something you had invested a lot into.

mi said...

random thinker - you know, i went about getting critiques the wrong way before, so it didn't take time to get used to criticism since i wasn't really getting anything constructive. i think my beta readers thought i just wanted my ego stroked, and i realize now i wasn't specific enough with my questions.

there's only been one person who hated my work. it was my childhood friend's mother, and she absolutely detested my first novel. she hated how the characters behaved and the outcome of the mother/daughter relationship. i took some comfort in it because it was the story she didn't like, not the writing. and apparently my writing was effective because she had such a strong opinion!

i think "it bored me" or "i lost interest" would be the hardest critique for me to hear.