Now that the promo is over, my mind is back to writing and away from marketing. That means it’s time to allot more than the token hour or so I’ve given to editing “The King’s Sons” over the last few days. I’d love to have it in shape to release sometime this year.
I have edited it twice, and the draft I’m currently working with has gone to some beta readers. I’m halfway through, and all I can think is….
OH. HOLY. MESS. What the HECK was I thinking sending this off to people to read? It’s not ready for that. I’m feeling more than a little embarrassed as I read through the draft and receive comments back….
It’s one thing to send out a draft you know is rough, and warn people of that, and explain to them why you’ll be ever grateful for their comments and why you need input from someone else about the novel at this point in its development. But I thought the book was better than it is. I thought it was polished enough that I could send it to my trusty beta readers (who are amazing) and not feel bad about its quality. I thought I was farther along the road to a finished book than I am. It’s a teaching moment, and I decided to make use of the opportunity it’s given me.
You will always, always, think your own work holds up better than it really does. You will “read” what you intend to be saying rather than what’s actually on the page. You will always be proud of your story and find excuses for its weaker elements.
So, what happened between that second edit I thought fixed so much and disillusionment?
- I wrote another first draft during November and NaNoWriMo.
- I sent the work off to beta readers and comment have started coming back.
We as writers need to understand that we can never approach our work with unbiased, unprivileged eyes. This is why we should always, always, ALWAYS:
- Let a novel sit a bit before an editing stint, so we can approach it with as fresh and impartial a point of view as possible. (Stephen King recommends two months. Most people I know, myself included, find it impossible to wait that long. But I think King knows what he’s talking about when he says that.)
- Always, always, ALWAYS have beta readers/editors give us honest advice, reactions, and comments. My beta readers are so ridiculously helpful it astonishes me.
As I went through the first couple of chapters of “The King’s Sons” again, I realized how much I was struggling to give refresher info and background knowledge in a readable way, as I’m dealing with the last part in a trilogy here. I noticed there were some issues, and I ironed some of them out in this pass through those first scenes. A week or two later, my first beta reader sent me comments back. She said the first two chapters were hard to follow. The dialogue didn’t flow like my dialogue usually does. The scenes were choppy and bit dull.
IT’S SO GOOD TO KNOW THAT. I’m proud to think I picked up on some of that myself, and hearing it from someone else has reinforced that it’s a serious issue in the work and I need to clean up those sections, maybe rewrite or change some things, before all is said and done. Though I’ve made it better since that draft I sent out, there’s no way it’s good enough yet. The beginning of a novel is crucial, after all. If I confuse, frustrate, and bore my readers, they won’t keep reading. Why would they?
So, to repeat: Let your novel sit. Get impartial, reliable input. And do not ever, ever rush the self-publication of your work.