I have a goal to write 5000 words a week. I have given myself a deadline of getting my next novel done and cleaned up, so it can be published this November. I’m worried I won’t get done. My list of excuses are: a son graduating high school, new job, moving to Texas, trying to sell a house, remolding projects so the house will sell, trying to find a house to buy, a son leaving on a mission, another son who wants to be able to start marching band with everyone else at his new high school (so we have to have the new house at the beginning of summer break). If you are still reading this list you should have skipped a head to the next paragraph a long time ago because the list is boring and no one cares about excuses.
Let me clarify what I mean by not getting the novel done. I have no doubt I’ll actually finish the story. And I have no doubt I will clean it up the best I personally can. HOWEVER, I believe that when I’ve done everything I can to make it a great story, the story itself is only halfway done.
Next, I need to give the story to a good critique partner who will shred it with a red pen. She’s wicked good with her pen and leaves it all on the field or paper in this case. She tells it too me straight, “That part sucks.” I think she’s the best thing since sliced bread. She’d scribble through that last line and insert something like, “She’s the best things since God said, Let there be light.” Or something more creative.
After I finish rewriting the story that was shredded, I have to find beta readers. People who will read the story and tell me what they didn’t like, where it was slow, places that the wording tripped them up and that sort of thing. Every once in a while I get a comment about something they liked, but it’s all about addressing the negatives. I try to find 3-5 beta readers and make them as varied as possible in personality, interest and what they like to read.
I have to hope that they actually read the book in a timely manner and that they will make notes. At this point in the writing process it is not helpful to have someone say, “It was good.” or even worse “It was really good.” Sometimes I have to go through a lot of beta readers to get a few that are brave enough to point out more than one or two tiny faults.
The book is off to the editor after I made the changes from the beta readers suggestions. I’m okay-ish at grammar. I’m fabulous compared to where I was ten year ago, but I’m never going to be an editor. It isn’t my talent and I’m fine with that. You don’t have to be good at everything. I’ve found that there are two kinds of writers. Those that CAN write great stories and those that KNOW HOW to write a great story. The ones that know how to write a great story are usually the grammar Nazis and they rarely, if ever, get a story finished. The ones who can write a great story and actually do it, rarely, if ever, are super-duper at grammar. They are two very different talents.
When the book has been edited, it can at last be called done. There are writers who don’t have to go through all these steps or don’t think they have too.You can tell who they are because often you put their book down and forget to ever pick it back up. I’m not embarrassed to say, I’m not a good enough writer to write a great novel without help.
Even if I meet my goal of getting the story written, it may not get done on time because when you involve people in the equation it always equals late. That’s why I’m worried. Well, I feel better. Glad I got that off my chest. Time to get back to work writing.
P.S. To the person who asked if they could quote me and reference back to my blog, I think that’s fine, but I’m guessing it was just a spam scam trying to get a response so they could deluge my post with spam. So don’t think I’m being unfriendly, it seems very suspect–I’m really not that cool that someone would want to quote me. I got a good laugh about it though.