When You Can’t Revise Another Word On Your Own

There comes a point with every manuscript when you can’t do anymore with it on your own. You’re so tied up in the plot and characters that you can’t see the holes in either. I’ve almost reached that point with my work-in-progress. I’ll finish reading it aloud this week, and then it will be time to send it off to the first round of readers–the first people to set eyes on this particular manuscript other than me.

It’s always a scary prospect, no matter how many times you’ve done it. I think it’s my best work yet–and it should be. Because with every new manuscript, my craft improves. If I’m not getting better, then why am I doing this?

Now, I know this manuscript is nowhere near perfect or ready to query. I expect tons of comments. I anticipate several rounds of revision, as usual. But the benefit of having multiple manuscripts behind me is that I remember my weaknesses. The comments I’ve received before were hopping around in the back of my mind as I wrote this manuscript, saying:

“You’re being too easy on her there!”

“You’re too focused on plot. You’re not going deep enough with the characters.”

“No, you can’t get away with that.”

“That scene came to you too easily, which means it probably needs more work.”

“That character is too much of a stereotype. Fix her.”

“You don’t need this scene. Get to the good stuff!”

“The POVs don’t feel distinct enough.”

“What happened to that plot thread? Don’t leave anything dangling. Either give it a purpose or take it out.”

“Watch the pacing. Is it slow enough for readers to get to know the characters but fast enough to keep them reading?”

“Are the emotional shifts believable? Make sure she’s not jumping from one to another too quickly.”

Of course, just because I’ve been thinking about these issues doesn’t mean I’ve nailed them already. That’s why I need other opinions. Plus I have some other concerns that I just can’t address on my own. It’s hard to believe that when I first started writing I didn’t understand the concept of critique partners. (I’m talking way before I started writing middle grade/young adult, when I wrote the novel I don’t claim here.) Now I can’t imagine sending something out into the publishing world without getting those oh-so-valuable opinions.

So, if any of my writer friends are in a reading mood, let me know! It’s a YA contemporary, 69,000 words. I have one reader lined up for this round but could use another. And I’m up for reading, too. We could figure out details via email. If we haven’t swapped before, we could do a sample chapter first to see if we’re a good fit.

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