Over the weekend, I read my NaNo09 novel for the first time. I’ve had good intentions several times and have actually started puttering with the first few pages a time or two. However, I never really got into it. I think I was petrified–afraid it would stink worse than a road-kill skunk and terrified that the manuscript was simply too big for me to tackle.
The long weekend, with eight hours of driving time, forced me into it.
And boy am I glad I did!
Whispering Minds is a YA, psychological thriller. It’s my first complete young adult novel and I was certain it was horrible. 60,124 words of horrible.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t. In fact, I cried over Granny, got a bit squishy inside when my MC cozied up to her best guy friend and had goosebumps raise the hair on my arms while watching a video over my MC’s shoulder.
Not that it was perfect. Or anything bordering on good, but it wasn’t a disaster. It’s definitely clean-up-and-submit material.
And, thanks to some wonderful writer friends, I am ready to edit. I am no longer scared by the huge word count–which is more than double my longest manuscript to date. Instead, through critiquing my buddies’ WIPs, I’ve learned to critique my own work, not just edit.
WHAT DID I DO?
- Read through the entire thing as if I was reading a novel.
- Made notes in the margins. Not typos or grammar or any of those bothersome things. Rather, notes on questions, confusions, time line discrepancies and unclear passages.
- Wrote a mini critique like I do for my buddies. This helped me focus on the issues that needed fixing.
WHAT DID I LEARN?
That my writing is prone to the same mistakes everyone else makes and that by critiquing it in the same way I do for my friends, I am more apt to see my problems than when I try to edit as I read.
That my characters are as flat as a road-kill skunk. While I inherently know this is my downfall, I still write rough drafts with pathetic supporting characters. They need lots o’ work. But at least now I know where and why.
That I have major plot holes. Of course I do. It was a rough draft. But this time, I can actually see them laid out in my critique. I know where I have to spend my time.
WHAT I WON’T DO?
Read it again for quite some time. I will find my plot holes and fill them in. I will plump up my characters and tweak timelines.
Line edit until after another front to back read through. I will ignore the typos and grammar issues that I typically focus on and once again read for content, not copy.
All in all, this entire novel was a unique experience for me. While I wrote my first draft, I simply made notes when I got stuck and moved on. I never reread anything from the day before and simply started with the previous sentence. I certainly did not edit as I went–which I’ve been known to do so often it inhibits my ability to finish a manuscript.
My shout out is not so much that I actually critiqued my novel, or that I believe it has market potential. Rather, I’m thrilled to learn that I have, indeed, learned.
I’ve matured as a writer–both in how I write and how I edit. And that is something worth shouting about!
Can you tell when you’ve grown as a writer? If so, what did you do differently and how does it affect your approach to your writing journey?
Growing minds want to know!