>> Tuesday, August 18, 2009

So, while my sister was here I managed to finish a major rewrite on my "second" novel. Yay me! I'm pretty pleased (in concept) with the changes, but I knew when I rewrote it it would need more polish.

Right now, I'm going through my "reading it out loud to my co-author" phase, where some of the more glaring typo/grammar/awkward sentences will hopefully be caught and little quirky ideas and details are conceived/remembered and implemented. Like remembering the shipcats were venomous or coming up with a special power for our paternal twins, Lin and Kim, adjusting Danai's kittens because my own personal princess, Roxy, has learned out to pull stuff off my desk and throw it away (she loves to throw stuff away, but when she runs out of trash, whats a baby to do?), so she tossed my notes on the kittens.

The problem is, though, that it's so fresh, when I'm reading it, all I can hear is what's wrong with it. Everything sounds stilted and broken and amateurish (which, of course, it could be, but let's hope not). It's always a problem with I work on something right after a rewrite. Perspective.

Sometimes, as I finish a scene I loved writing, I read it thinking it's perfect and wonderful and fabulous. Sometimes, all I read sounds like garbage and it's easy to get discouraged. I've had both reactions on the same book and it's more a reflection of the kind of work I've been doing (slogging revision or inspired writing) before the review than a reflection of my work (or at least I hope so).

In order to get a feel for how I really feel for it, I'll have to put it away right after this read-through and let it sit at least two weeks so I can regain my perspective. And, then, I'll read it again. I might let a few trusted friends take a look while I'm waiting in case they have some polishing suggestions.

One piece of advice I'd give to any would-be author. Always give it a rest period from when you think you're done and when you want to send it out. And read it again with eyes as fresh as you can make them.


  • Jeff King

    Great points...

    i wish you luck with your goal to be published, and i have to agree with leting it sit for a good period of time before a final read.

    i am on my 7th re-write and still need changes to plot and flow. the main prob i get is when i chnge somthing i loved and it flowed so well it jumped off the page, the rest of the book is weak in my eyes and i start a complete re-write again.
    maybe one day i will fill the honor of holding my finsihed work. thx for the tips

  • The Mother

    Examining one's own work is always painful. That's why I ship copies to mom, hubby, four friends and anyone else I can find who will read it.

    Then I listen to how great it is, because I know damn well they will lie to me.

    Knowing how great it is, I can then reexamine it with a little perspective.

  • Shakespeare

    I agree with the time off... I tend to need months between revisions, with other writing projects to do in the between time, before I can truly go back in with a fresh brain.

    This latest revision is really an entire rewrite. I scrapped all but one scene, and I am now nearly finished with the final scene of the play!

    But then, of course, I'll have to set aside for a while... drat!

  • Stephanie B

    The Mother, find some friends who will tell you the truth and ship it to them. "It's great!" feedback is good for the ego, bad for the writing.

    I have a sister and friends who respect me enough to go, "Uh, Steph, I just couldn't get around your main character - I don't like her," or "This just confused me. What are you trying to say here?" or "The pace of this seems off. You might want to slow things down." I have a friend who always puts comments in where she "LOL'd", too. Man, I love it when she edits my stuff.

    I'm not saying your stuff isn't (or is) great. I'm just saying that having people willing to give their honest perspective is at least as useful as getting your own.

  • Patricia Rockwell

    Finding the right person to give unbiased criticism is certainly the key! If a relative can do that--why not? My husband writes better than I do and has years of editing and English teaching experience. He's pretty rough on my work and let's me know what does and doesn't work. My main problem with him is he doesn't really like my genre (which could actually be a good thing) and it would just be nice to have someone read my work who at least shared my love of cozy mysteries.

  • The Mother

    It was meant to be sarcastic.

    No one you know or love will ever be able to tell you as much truth about your writing as an agent or a literary critic. Those personalized rejection letters are gold.

  • Stephanie B

    Agreed, the mother. I think I've only gotten personalized rejection letters twice, but I treasured them both.

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